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This is one of two bottles I was able to procure from a buddy of mine who flew in from Shanghai a few weeks back. While both were overpriced by American standards, I consider fine bourbons and ryes to be nothing short of exotic in this corner of the globe. The first bottle he brought back was a Willett’s rye. Absolutely sublime stuff. This is the second; Blanton’s Original. I was going to get the Special Reserve instead, as it is priced cheaper here in Asia, but I figured I’d start with the signature bottling. Let’s hope it’s a worthy follow-up to the Willett’s.
Nose: Quite a strong whiff of maple syrup hits me first. It’s a clean sweetness that isn’t overbearing. There’s also a fair amount of rye. Very lovely oak with hints of cedar shavings. Vanilla, smoke, spearmint, brown sugar, red apples, cinnamon and melon. Crisp, with good intensity.
Palate: Medium body, with a very clean delivery. Rye spice and spearmint dominate. Oak is here, but it’s not as strong as you’d expect. The flavours seem to follow through from the nose. The sweetness here is gentle and sophisticated, and mingles nicely with the rye notes. Smoke and spice bring us into the finish.
Finish: Rye notes in droves. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and anise. Then maple sugar, then distant wood. Medium-long finish with a beautiful burn that’s by no means harsh.
What I particularly like about this bourbon is its crispness. It’s also quite intense. Its charm seems to stem from the fact that the flavours here are so precise and well-defined. I also like the sweetness here, which is neither cloying nor thick. Lovely maple highlights. Finally, the heavy wood notes present in other bourbons seem to have been largely exchanged for the grassy, spicy rye notes. There is indeed good oak and cedar flavour here, but it’s not dominant. Ultimately this is a lovely single barrel bourbon that has a crisp and sophisticated delivery. And rye lovers won’t be complaining, either.