Tag Archives: Standard Rye Bourbon

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon – Review

Blanton’s is my second stop on Buffalo Trace’s Mash #2 Train. Last time was Elmer T Lee and next up is Rock Hill Farms, Hancock’s President’s Reserve, and Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star.

Blanton’s Background

Blanton'sBlanton’s is named after Albert Blanton who started working at what was then the George T. Stagg Distillery in 1897. He stayed with the company for 55 years. In 1984 Blanton’s Single Barrel was released as a full strength premium product. It sold for 2-3 times typical Bourbons and was a risky venture during some darker days of the Bourbon industry. Other whiskeys were more fashionable as well as a general downturn in whiskey consumption. With a premium single barrel product backed by a strong marketing campaign, Blanton’s slowly gained a strong following. It’s credited as the first single barrel Bourbon product, at least in the modern marketplace. 

The inspiration for Blanton’s came from parties thrown by Albert back in the day. Blanton would pull samples from his favorite Warehouse H. He would pick a barrel or two and then have them bottled for his guests. Blanton felt Warehouse H made the best Bourbon, and that has been the source of Blanton’s from the beginning. Warehouse H is a tin clad building that Blanton had built shortly after prohibition. The intention was to make a metal warehouse to age whiskey faster, which obviously was suddenly in demand again. As a result, the warehouse tends to get warmer during the summer days than others. Like other warehouses at Buffalo Trace, Warehouse H is also steam-heated during the winter, further aiding the aging process.

Today that full barrel strength and some other variations are only available outside of the U.S., which is a shame. What we have here in the U.S. clocks in at 46.5%. Overseas you can find a Gold Edition at 51.5%, Straight from the Barrel around 66.25%, and an entry expression Special Reserve at 40%.

Details

No age statement ,but said to be around 9 years old. Bottled at 46.5%. Aged in Warehouse H. Uses Buffalo Trace Mash #2, which is thought to be about 13-15% rye. MSRP – $54.99 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Fruity. Some apples, maybe cherry. Grapes. A little perfume. Oak. A little cola. Vanilla. Some corn.

Flavor

Mild char flavors. Caramel. Vanilla. Light toffee. Mild rye spice. Tartness. A little chocolate in the finish. Nice sweetness up front balanced by char, a little spice, and some astringent drying. Delicate with good flavor.

Overall

Excellent. The bottle of Blanton’s is a classic whiskey decanter with that iconic jockey stopper. This drink exudes history of American Bourbon. My Bourbon preference is more on the spicy side and this Bourbon seems to lack some oomph. Some days I feel it’s a little boring, but it’s a delightful glass. I’m really wondering what the Straight from the Barrel Blanton’s is like. Or even the Blanton’s Gold. I’ll have to source a bottle or at least a sample some day.

I’m very happy with this buy and I don’t think anyone should be disappointed in buying a bottle. It’s a page out of modern Bourbon history and a very nice experience. I think it would also make a nice gateway Bourbon being a mild whiskey with still good character. You may be able to find it cheaper than my ABC price book, but $60 is a little pricy, I think.

This is where things get complicated… For $60 I don’t see myself keeping this stocked. It’s not rare, yet, and I just don’t love it that much. Right now I like to slightly better than Elmer T Lee, but that could change with the day. They’re each very nice, but Elmer T Lee is over $25 cheaper. So while I like it, I’m not sure I like it $25 better. I’ll probably eventually buy another bottle, especially if I find it on sale in my travels. Plus, those cork stoppers are collectible, so there’s that for when I run out of things to buy.

Blanton’s Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.5/5 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Blanton’s Links

 

Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon – Review

Elmer T Lee BottleBuffalo Trace makes a number of products with their #2 Bourbon mash. This mash is a little higher rye content than their #1, but the rye actually isn’t too assertive. #2 mash is thought to be around 13-15% rye and the #1 is somewhere just south of 10%, so not a huge flavor difference. It seems just a little more spice than the other branch of products. These Bourbons are said to age around 8-10 years, but have different flavor profiles. Difference between these drinks basically are the warehouse location and barrel selection. You would think with the same distillate, they would be pretty similar, but they’re surprisingly distinct. Unique, but basically members of the same family.

Elmer T Lee is my first stop on the #2 mash train future stops include Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farms, Hancock’s President’s Reserve, and Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star.

Elmer T Lee Background

Lee started with the company in 1949 as a maintenance engineer. The year after he retired, Buffalo Trace launched this Bourbon in 1986. Lee agreed they could use his name as long as he could personally selected the barrels. That sounds like a nice retirement. Lee continued to do so into his 90’s and there appears to be a plan in place to continue his legacy. He passed away last year at 93.

Lee’s favorite warehouses at Buffalo Trace are I and K and that’s where we generally get Elmer T Lee. This compares to Blanton’s, which come from Albert Blanton’s favorite Warehouse H, for example. Lee’s favorite drink is Elmer T Lee with 7 UP on ice, but here we’ll drink it neat.

Details

No age statement, but said to be aged 8-10 years. Rumored to use Buffalo Trace Mash #2 which is thought to be about 13-15% rye. It’s bottled at 45%. MSRP – $34.99 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Fruity with apple cider and honey. Caramel. Vanilla. Woody oak. I got a little bread/biscuit.

Flavor

Toasted oak, caramel. Rich vanilla. Some dark sugars – toffee maybe with brown sugar. Nice rye spice. Sweetness is there, but balanced. Finish I get more toasted oak and vanilla with some mild alcohol. Alcohol seems is on the edge of being solvent-like. Pretty nice overall.

Overall

This is great. I go back and forth a bit with Elmer T Lee and Blanton’s. Seems more flavorful, but Blanton’s seems more refined and lack the hint of fusel alcohol I get here. Right now I’d give Blanton’s an edge, but that could change with my mood. Very well done with some character, but no rough edges. As you pour glass after glass, the bourbon reveals a smiling Elmer T Lee from the inside. If I were in this bottle, I’d be smiling too. A great bourbon.

My price on this was $34, which seems a great deal for such a great whiskey. For the price, buy some and grab an extra to enjoy after that’s gone.

Elmer T Lee Rating

Buy Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Comments, corrections, suggestions?

Elmer T Lee Reference Links

Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon 2003 – Review

Evan Williams Single Barrel Background

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003Info on Evan Williams Single Barrel according to Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams site: “Each year our Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam select barrels that meet their exacting standards. It’s a bourbon that is vintage dated, meaning each bottle is marked with the vintage date it was put into oak and the year it was bottled.”

The Evan Williams Single Barrel 2004 bottling has been released and is making its way through retail inventory. I haven’t seen it yet in Michigan, but I’m not exactly asking to pull down bottles to check. Since the new release is here, thought I should give the 2003 bottle some attention.

Details

Barreled: 2/28/03, Bottled: 10/26/13, Barrel: #989. Rumored to use Heaven Hill’s low mash 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley. 43.3%. Paid $30.

Nose

Caramel and vanilla. Corn, honey sweetness, oak, char. Perfume. Toffee, brown sugar. Fruity.

Flavor

Apples, oak, a little buttery. Cinnamon. Sweet. Light smokiness in the finish. Low to medium rye spiciness in the finish. Some alcohol warming.

Overview

There’s balance here. Seems dark sugars and vanilla with a good dose of oak. Hint of smoke is interesting in the finish. Everything seems held in check and nothing really jumps out. Just a well put together Bourbon. When you factor in the price, there’s even more to like.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0/5 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Evan Williams Single Barrel Links

Evan Williams Single Barrel
Drink Insider
Sour Mash Manifesto