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Blanton’s was the first brand of single barrel bourbon ever released. Produced at the Buffalo Trace distillery and originally developed by the great Elmer T. Lee (whose eponymous line of single barrel bourbon shares the same high rye mash bill: connosr.com/whiskey/american/…), Blanton’s comes in several expressions, including Original Single Barrel, Silver Edition, Gold Edition, Straight From The Barrel, and Special Reserve.
Unlike the other expressions, Blanton’s Special Reserve is made exclusively for the foreign market. Billed as an introduction to the Blanton’s line—“ideal for those new to single barrel bourbons” (whatever that means)—it is bottled in the unique Blanton’s style, complete with a wax-dipped, metal horse-and-jockey stopper, but at only 40% ABV.
The nose is thick and sweet, with notes of sarsaparilla, oak, and spiced oatmeal. Hints of banana, honey, and bubble gum provide an added touch of character.
The palate is also sweet, amazingly smooth, and a little nutty. Oatmeal comes to the fore, sarsaparilla makes a welcome reappearance, and a small measure of rye spice joins the show. The sweetness lingers for some time.
In all, Blanton’s Special Reserve is understated, but absolutely enjoyable. Given its low proof, it has a surprisingly full body, and strikes me as a good complement to a bottle of Elmer T. Lee.