Blanton's Bourbon
by Greg Kitzmiller

Blanton's was the first single barrel bourbon. It was released in 1984. It was named after Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton, who in 1901 at the age of twenty became superintendent of the distillery. It was reportedly a labor of love for Blanton who led this as the only working distillery in Kentucky during Prohibition (1920 to 1933) and had the distillery back and running within 24 hours of the floodwaters subsiding following the great flood of 1937. Col. Blanton was a pioneer in American bourbon and this whiskey does honor to his name. The Blanton's bottle itself is seductive. Most

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bourbon bottles are, well, bottles. This one is a jewel. A beautiful round and faceted ornamental glass bottle caresses this fine product and just beckons you to buy her. Atop the cork stopper, sealed in wax, sits a beautiful metal symbol of the great land of bourbon- a Kentucky racehorse and jockey.

Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee, Member of the Master Distiller's Hall of Fame and a friendly guy, oversaw the introduction of single barrel bourbons and may have barreled the bottles you see in classy bars and fine liquor stores. Current Master Distiller, Gary Gayheart, carries on the tradition and likely 'dumped' your barrel- that is, he was present when the barrel was opened and bottled. The bottle I have came from barrel #139, warehouse H on Rick 38 and was dumped 11-5-01 and bottled at 93 proof. There is no age statement but Gary tells me this is 7-8 years old. Travel to Frankfort, Kentucky and you can see the historic warehouse where your bottle was stored in barrel. Bring a flashlight- the primary warehouse is so old it has no electricity.

The bottle and history alone are enough to get us interested in the bourbon but wait until you lift the cork stopper. The color is wonderful deep amber. On the nose this bourbon gives strong hints of toffee/caramel. Sampled neat it is true to traditional bourbon with solid caramel, toffee and, I think, a hint of vanilla. Cut with water it entices me. I taste very strong caramel flavors. The finish continues with wonderful caramel notes and a hotness that you might describe as peppery.

This bourbon has one over ten awards including "Finest Bourbon in the World" from the Washingtonian magazine in 1990. And there is good news from this award-winning distillery. They are experimenting at the Buffalo Trace Distillery (as it is now named). They're using different small grains (in addition to corn, of course) different proofs, and different recipes (e.g., mash bills) to produce new bourbons. Some of these are already available, like Buffalo Trace Bourbon, the Eagle Rare bourbons, and the H.L. Weller line. Others, though, won't be ready for maybe a decade or more. That's all right by me. With a dozen aging warehouses there is plenty of Blanton's.
Greg Kitzmiller is a freelance writer, university instructor, and conference speaker who follows food and beverage trends. He happens to really like bourbon as well as tequila, Irish whisky, and beer.

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