Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blanton's Straight From the Barrel

Distillery: Buffalo Trace (under contract with Age International)
Age: NAS
Proof: 132.7 (66.35% ABV)
Price: JPY 4500

Blanton's - the brand credited with creating the idea of a single barrel bourbon - at cask strength.  

As you can see, in this case, barrel strength means 132.7 proof (66.35% ABV). Most of the bottles I have seen are a little above 130 proof. This is a little higher than Booker's, which is normally in the 120s, but not far off. A 5% difference doesn't make that much of a difference at this level.

Blanton's Straight from the Barrel is non-chill filtered, which means it becomes cloudy with the addition of water or ice. I think this adds a little more body to this bourbon compared to its diluted brethren. I normally drink this as-is, without the addition of water or ice, but a drop or two of water can sometimes open up the aroma and flavor. Because it is non-chill filtered, each drop of water c
reates a little vortex of esters that swirl through the glass.

The nose starts off with notes of maple sugar, leather and green apple, before moving on to notes of prunes and cinnamon. It has a nice thick mouthfeel with notes of candied apple, vanilla and cashews. There is some woodiness as the flavor progresses. The finish is nice and long with prunes for miles.

This is forward, aggressive and masculine, as you would expect from such a high proof bourbon. Lots of dark fruits and woody tannins. It really lives up the nose. It is not, however, "hot" and the burn of the alcohol is not as pronounced as you might expect given the proof. The wood is somewhat surprising given that its probably only about six years old, but the woodiness is not unpleasant and should not be taken as a sign of over aging.

Verdict: Buy it, even if you don't like Blanton's Single Barrel. 

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