It was former master distiller Elmer T Lee – who passed away in 2013 – who launched the Straight from the Barrel series in 1984, a year before his retirement. The casks for the series matured in the metal clad and thus warmer Warehouse H. Albert Blanton – one of Buffalo Trace’s first employees – built this warehouse and that is why the series is named after him. Quite a few of these single barrels appear every year, always at cask strength (well, barrel strength in this case) in the typical round bottle with the trademark tin stopper with the horse on top.
Blood oranges, candied ginger, dark chocolate with almonds and cold espresso form the heart of the nose of this Blanton. Add a truckload of caramel, a bit of parsley and some dill. This nose is – for a bourbon – quite complex.
It’s no surprise that this malt gives a kick to the teeth with the first sip, considering the ABV. Chili peppers, nutmeg and some cinnamon are the spices on duty. That is followed by liquorice candy, caramel, maple syrup and a lost date. The caramel returns, albeit in slightly burnt state as if my glass stood too close to the BBQ. It works. The second sip goes further and offers some caramelized orange peel, eucalyptus and maraschino cherries. It even turns quite candy-like with the third sip.
It’s the blood oranges that command the warm, spicy and very long finish.
This is clearly the better stuff from across the Big Pond. Thanks, Peter!
A shame this is not available in North America. I was able to try it by getting a sample from Master of Malt, and taste it H2H2H with the Original and the Gold. It was close, but this one was my favourite.