Before you actually pour a glass of Blanton’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, it is obligatory that you spend a few minutes admiring the bottle that houses it, as it is in itself a little bit of a work of art. Intriguingly angled and shaped, topped with a silver jockey and his steed and adorned with plenty of good old-fashioned typography, it’s a nod to the great whiskey traditions it was created to honor.
Imagine this for a moment. As an ambitious youngster, you attempt to secure employment with a near legendary local distiller, a man whose unusual penchant for creating bourbon whiskey in single barrels created a tipple reserved only for royalty, dignitaries and the very rich. You are told, rather bluntly, no hands are required and sent on your way. And yet some 30 years later, when you launch your own groundbreaking bourbon you name it after that man who turned you away.
That’s basically the story of Elmer T. Lee, who created his first single barrel whiskey in 1984 and kicked off something of a revolution. The mentor that wasn’t was one Colonel Albert B. Blanton and Lee created his bourbon based on the blueprint of the older gentleman’s rarified tipple.
But enough about history and artistry. How does Blanton’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey hold up, now that there are so many other single barrel bourbons out there to compete with it? The answer is admirably. A first taste – delivered from, we’d suggest, the fanciest glass you find, sans ice or any other adulterant, provides a heady, sweet blend of caramel, cloves and honey that then finishes with vanilla, honey and a distinct citrus tang. It also mixes well as a part of a high-end cocktail – but it must be high end please – as this racing classic of a bourbon, which truly can claim to have kicked off the single casket movement – deserves nothing less.