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No Blanton's? Now what?

No Blanton’s? Now what do I do?

Over the past few years, Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon has become very highly sought after (as well as its even more rare variants, Gold and Straight from the Barrel). But it's becoming more difficult to get ahold of; in addition to its recent scarcity, the price has doubled. In some markets it has even tripled (or more) in price. So what is a Bourbon drinker to do when they can’t get their favorite whiskey—or don’t want to pay the ever-increasing price for it?

The History of Blanton's

First, let’s look at why we want Blanton’s in the first place. Blanton’s is the original Single Barrel Bourbon, first bottled by Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee, at what is now Buffalo Trace Distillery.

What does that mean? Well, when you buy a bottle of Buffalo Trace (or most other whiskies) it is typically a blend of hundreds, maybe even thousands of barrels. Since each barrel ages differently and will have its own unique flavor profile, the art of blending barrels to maintain a consistent flavor profile is nothing short of incredible. That being said, Elmer, as well as many other Master Distillers, understood the certain barrels are just a bit more special than others. In an attempt to highlight those barrels, and create a premium product that was lacking in the Bourbon World at that time, he created Blanton’s.

Blanton’s is named after Albert B. (for Bacon) Blanton, a previous Master Distiller at the distillery. Along with offering a premium product, a premium package had to be created to show consumers that this Bourbon was special. So the signature barrel shaped bottle was created, topped with a cork stopper supporting a race horse, which is as much a part of Kentucky heritage as Bourbon. The horses are shown in different strides of a race. As an added premium feature, the horses all have a letter on them, so if you collect them all you can spell out the word Blanton’s. There are even display pieces you can get to display all of the horses. Some bottles come packed in rubber mesh, some in plush bags, and some come in a box. For more information on Blanton’s, check out their website.

So with all of that, good product, good packaging, and great marketing, Blanton’s has become scarce and more expensive. Ironically, that leads to more scarcity and higher prices. The question here is not whether Blanton’s is good or even worth the price you will pay for it. Certainly, if you like something, then it is good for you. And as for price, like anything else, it is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. And if you are a collector who likes the way the bottle looks on your home bar, or you are trying to spell out "Blanton’s" with the horses, then by all means, happy hunting. The question here is, if you are looking for whiskey of unique, Single Barrel character, and Blanton’s is not available, what other choices are there?

Great Single Barrel Bourbons

Here are a few Single Barrel options that may be a bit more readily available and a little more budget friendly.

First off, store picks are almost always Single Barrels, and offer consumers a chance to taste unique offerings from different distilleries. They are limited to that particular store and are truly one-time offerings. So when you find one you like, you might want to grab an extra bottle or two.

 

 

Four Roses Single Barrel
Four Roses Single Barrel: $45. Aged a minimum of seven to nine years with a high rye mash bill and bottled at 100 proof. Lots of spice and cocoa on the nose, big mouth feel with dark fruit on the palate, and a nice long finish. The bottle lists the warehouse and barrel number
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit: $50. No age statement, bottled at 101 proof, same mash bill as all Wild Turkey. Bold flavors, nutty and spicy with sweet vanilla notes. Warehouse and barrel number are on the label as well as the bottling date. Different warehouse every time, so there may be flavor differences with different bottles.
Evan Williams Single Barrel: $32. Typically around 7 years, standard Heaven Hill mash bill, bottled at 86.6 proof, sweet oak and vanilla notes, with caramel, apple and citrus. Barrel number, barreled date, and bottling date are on the label.
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