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Blanton's Silver Edition

VSOP bourbon...

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@hunggarReview by @hunggar

20th Aug 2013

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    91

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Blanton’s Silver Edition is primarily sold at duty-free shops, and isn’t available to most. Apparently, it’s considered a more premium offering than the original. I did a bit of research and it seems that the distillery has pulled this release, so it might be one for collectors to grab. But not me; I thought about keeping it as an unopened collectible for about zero seconds.

Anyway, I bought the Original not long ago and was quite taken with it. It’s not sold here, so I was quite proud of myself for acquiring it. No more than 3 weeks later, I went to a local shop to find a bottle of Blanton’s Silver Edition sitting on the shelf. I’d be a fool not to grab it, right? So does it live up to its premium reputation? I tasted the Silver and Original side by side and here’s the verdict:

Nose: Significantly darker than the original. Heavy maple and vanilla hit first. There’s some rye in here, but seemingly not as much as the original. Oak, tannins, milk chocolate, cream, roasted nuts, and cinnamon. There’s also something floral here…

Palate: Wow. Intense. Lovely spices ride in on a wave of fresh cream. Grassy rye, chocolate fudge, maple, and dried fruit. Quite tangy. There are some floral/perfume notes in here that are evocative of a quality cognac.

Finish. The aforementioned cognac notes seem to get stronger into the finish. At this point they are neither subtle nor nuanced. With them are lingering rye and maple notes weaved in between. Smooth and creamy to the very end. Wow. Deep, rich, and stunning.

This is an absolutely brilliant dram. It’s got it all. There’s rye notes, maple notes, fruit notes, wood notes; and all of them shine through with quality and clarity. But the floral/perfume/cognac note is what truly characterizes this bourbon. Not only is it distinctive and unexpected, it’s absolutely delicious. It evolves ever so steadily. It’s hinted by the nose, delivered on the palate, and it culminates on the finish in a superb crescendo of interwoven flavours. So, is this better than the Original? I think so, but you may not. I didn’t drink them side by side to choose a winner, but simply as a point of contrast. Both releases are well worth the money. But for me, as a relatively new bourbon lover and a long time cognac lover, this is the perfect marriage. So, have I stumbled across a new favourite? Yes. Yes I have.

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3 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

Thanks for a great review, @hunggar. It would be interesting to know if different barrels of the Blanton's Silver Edition would have similar notes. I am not at all sure if anything differentiates the various species of Blanton's from one another other than the amount of dilution and the uniqueness of the barrels. They all use the same Buffalo Trace # 2 "rye recipe" mashbill, which contains about 15% rye grain. That mashbill is the higher rye content one of the two Buffalo Trace mashbills, but is only average rye content among all bourbons within the field. The yeasts are presumably the same across the Blanton's line. Seems like only the uniqueness of the barrels and the uniqueness of the aging, together with variable water added, differentiate them from one another. That is still saying a lot, though, because, as Chuck Cowdery reports, the US whiskey makers regularly tell him that they consider that 50% of the flavour in the whiskey comes from the wood.

So, @hunggar, I am curious to see, maybe a year or two or three from now, when you try another Blanton's Silver Editon, whether you get Cognac and a lot of floral notes from THAT particular barrel of Blanton's. Enjoy that bottle that has the flavours that you love! There are only a couple of hundred bottles from that particular barrel.

6 years ago 0

@hunggar
hunggar commented

@Victor, yes I've checked the Blanton's website. It seems they all share the same fundamental recipe and processing. The staves, the wood, and the charring process are all identical. But I drank the Silver and Original side by side and the difference was night and day. Next to the Silver, the Original tasted like a rye cinnamon bomb. By contrast the Silver is thicker, richer, and bolder, with a very individual flavour profile.

To be honest, the presentation between them is so different it's hard to imagine that they're from the same mashbill at all. The 3% difference in strength doesn't even come close to accounting for the disparity here. So all I can figure is that the Silver has been aged significantly longer, perhaps in a different environment. I’m sure that different ageing methods and casks can influence whiskies in such a way that rye notes (or any other notes) ultimately seem strengthened or weakened. That might account for the rye notes seeming more predominant in the Original. Anyway, that’s all speculation. As to where the floral cognac note comes from, I’m completely clueless.

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Usually, when I get floral notes in any whisk(e)y, I suspect that it is the yeast used which produces them. That hypothesis would not explain why you have gotten those notes in one Blanton's and not in another, except that the unique barrels used in the two cases might in one case have accentuated the floral element, and in the other have hindered or muffled its expression.

6 years ago 0

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