October 2, 2010

Blanton's: The Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

Blanton's, as the neck label on the bottle tells you, is "The Original Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey." More than marketing, this statement is true - Blanton's pre-dated Beam's Small Batch Collection. Blanton's also enjoys the reputation of being one of the best whiskies around. I heard about its reputation before having tasted it, and due to my tendency to eschew popular sentiment towards drinks, I discounted Blanton's supposed high rank among other brands. That was a mistake.

Blanton's is pale amber, caramel, in color. A few sniffs reveals grainy spiciness, caramel-ly sweetness, some pepper notes around the edges, and a soft, full warmth of well worn oiled leather. The balanced complexity of the nose advertises its many tasty splendors. Mouthfeel is warm, smooth, and thick enough to coat you mouth without being syrupy. It is bottled at 93 proof, as well.

Tasting Blanton's is an event; it is thought provoking, important, and memorable, like a Whistler painting, or a van der Rohe building. It's something that stays with you, something to which you compare other whiskies. At first, Blanton's warmly, sweetly permeates your palate. After the toffee-esque sweetness subsides, a blunted spiciness comes though with the faintest of yeasty sourness way in the background. Everything works together in concert. Blanton's finish is actually an substantial element of its taste: after swallowing, a dry corn note flares up, but it's joined by heat on the tongue and a fleeting honey richness in the throat.

In all, Blanton's is complex, with each constituent part working for each other's benefit. It is a complex, balanced, and smooth bourbon that is simply outstanding. It will surprise you in new ways after every sip, and after each new bottle.

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