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Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon is made for Age International by the Buffalo Trace distillery, from their high rye mash bill. I have previously reviewed two other bourbons produced using the same mash bill: Elmer T. Lee (connosr.com/reviews/elmer-t-lee/…) and Blanton’s Special Reserve (connosr.com/reviews/blantons/…).
The nose is immediately sweet, bready, and spicy. It is heady, with dominant notes of menthol, leather, and pipe tobacco. Hints of pepper, oranges, apricots, and strawberries make themselves known in the background. In time, it deepens further, eventually yielding vanilla and brown sugar, contrasted with the slight astringency of furniture polish.
The palate is equally rich and full bodied. It is spicy and warming, with a nice sweetness. There is dry rye, a light nuttiness, gentle astringency, and sumptuous touch of orange liqueur. In all, it is exceptionally well balanced.
The central difference between Blanton’s Original and Blanton’s Special Reserve—aside from the color of the labels, of course—is the proof, the former being 93º and the latter 80º. While perhaps not a profound difference in profile, it is nevertheless a significant one. Everything that makes Blanton’s Special Reserve interesting is made considerably more impressive in the higher proof expression. Compared to the 90º Elmer T. Lee, however, the differences are more subtle: Blanton’s Original is drier and smokier, though it is neither especially dry nor smoky. It is as if they are two sides of the same person; at times sweet and playful, stately and mannered at others. This sort of complexity makes me wonder what else Buffalo Trace has up its sleeve.