Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stuff We Don't Get: Blanton's Straight from the Barrel

Blanton's is known as the first single barrel bourbon (whether it actually was or not is the subject of some dispute). Distilled by Buffalo Trace for a Japanese company, Age International, Blanton's uses a higher rye mashbill than the other Buffalo Trace bourbons. The same mashbill is used for Elmer T. Lee, Ancient Age and Rockhill Farms bourbons, all of which are owned by Age. While Buffalo Trace makes barrel strength versions of its rye bourbon (George T. Stagg), wheated bourbon (William Larue Weller) and straight rye (Thomas Handy), Age International doesn't release a barrel strength version of its higher-rye bourbon mashbill...in the United States.

Blanton's Straight from the Barrel is a barrel strength version of Blanton's available in Europe and Japan. Like the regular version, it's a single barrel bourbon, so the proof varies, and it carries no age statement. It seems to go for around $90 in Europe, but that, of course, depends on the exchange rates.

Normally, I wouldn't review a whiskey that was not available in the US, but I thought this one would be interesting since there is no other way to sample a barrel strength version of this mashbill. In addition, there has been some rumor that Age might release this (or one of the number of other Blanton's expressions that are sold only overseas) in the US. I wanted to see if it was something we should be advocating for.

Blanton's Straight from the Barrel, Barrel 195, Warehouse H, Rick 18, 68.3% abv

The nose on this is fantastic and complex. It's starts off with sweet caramel and then transitions quickly to spicy rye and wood polish notes. There's also some fruit on the nose; I'm getting candied apples (the sticky red ones you get at the fair). The palate socks you with rye right off the bat and then treats you to sweet wood. Water, of course, is pretty essential for something this proof, and in this one, brings out the sweet candy but also enhances the rye, giving it a peppery like quality that lasts into the finish.

This is really great stuff, a bourbon you can sit and contemplate, with notes that continue to grow and evolve as you drink it. The folks at Age International definitely need to let us in on some of it.


Florin said...

Had no idea this existed! Their website indicates that it is also available in airport duty-free shops within US, I'll keep my eyes peeled. Thanks, Sku.

BMc said...

A couple of months ago, a member posted on a bourbon forum that he saw 7 barrels of Ancient Age about to be dumped when he was touring the A. Smith Bowman Distillery. A week ago, two single barrels from Bowman turn up at the Party Source. Maybe they're Ancient Age?

I don't know how Sazerac got the authority to transfer the barrels to their Bowman location. It's possible, though unlikely, that Bowman was buying from Age before Sazerac bought Bowman, and those thus predate the acquisition. The reason I say this is because the member said that they had just been transferred from Kentucky and hadn't been sitting in Virginia for the decade or more since the acquisition.

sku said...

BMc, very interesting info. Thanks.

NP said...

and to those who say by looking at this inky uber dark liquid "hmmm somebody dumped a lil too much caramel in barrel 195" i say NO. this color is totally natural. barrel 195 was just made outta chocolate.

sku said...

NP, I think that's at least partly a photography/light issue. It doesn't look that dark in real life.

As you may know, straight bourbon sold in the US cannot contain caramel, but those regulations do not apply to bourbon sold for export.

Unknown said...

I'm lucky enough to have a bottle from 2006.
Dumped on: 9/1/06
Barrel number 278
Warehouse H
Rick No. 45
Alcohol Vol % 65.95
131.9 proof
Bottle #175

Going to finally open it up this Christmas.


Anonymous said...

Man, I would love to be able to purchase some of this stuff! This and the Paris by Day and Paris by Night bottles.

If they released those products in the U.S., especially the SFTB, they would sell like hot cakes.

Anonymous said...

We love the special bottles, we order them now and then online. You can search by the site wine-seacher.com which shops send them worldwide through out your state.