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IMG_9774Proof: 93
Color: medium-red amber
Nose: cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel
Taste: caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, toasted nuts
Finish: warm & short
Value: come to your own conclusions…

As you’re likely thinking, “Dude. It’s about freakin’ time you reviewed Blanton’s!”  And yes it is.

Blanton’s is not the flagship whiskey out of the Buffalo Trace Distillery.  It’s not their most expensive, either. No, Pappy claims both of those spots.  But compared to other whiskeys in its bailiwick, Blanton’s is… well… a tad pricey.

First, my standard “let’s not mince words” proclamation: While quite tasty, I don’t get the ‘gotta have it’ mentality surrounding Blanton’s.

Technically, Blanton’s has the flavors that make great American whiskeys awesome: Vanilla, toastiness, baking spices.  And I do appreciate the caramel at the front of the palette.  But where is that little something extra? Instead of a lovely je ne sais quoi, I’m left with just quoi.

…I don’t get the ‘gotta have it mentality surrounding Blanton’s.

A healthy sniff will get you cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. Perhaps you’ll note a touch of caramel or biscuit.  But, any scent notes take a backseat to the baking spices. And the 93 proof had me sniffing a few times to get there.  Ordinarily, high proof doesn’t stall me, but in Blanton’s, it stopped me in my tracks.

Barrel notes present themselves to the palate in the expected partners of vanilla and toasted nuts.  The caramel flavor is lovely.  But the “whiskey burn” I expect from something over 86 proof was a tad off-putting. The burn starts at the tip of the tongue and runs to the back of throat.

Now, Buffalo Trace Straight is still one of my favorite Bourbons, and it hails from the same distillery as Blanton’s. When I reviewed it, I used a lot of compliments. And I still maintain that, in its price-point, Buffalo Trace is the best.  Yes, yes… there are contenders… but I’m writing about Blanton’s this time around.  So, in Blanton’s price-point, does it reign supreme?  In a word: No.  Comparing smoothness to others on my shelf, Four Roses Small Batch wins out. Complexity goes to Wild Turkey Forgiven. Mouth feel and finish sees George Dickel Barrel Select besting it.  And, predictably, all three of those are cheaper than Blanton’s.

So, I’m left wondering why so many other reviewers hold Blanton’s in such high regard.  Is it the color? Is it the process?  Is it the cute bottle with the horsey on top?  Of my contemporaries, only The Whiskey Jug calls out Blanton’s shortcomings as I have, and we agree on every point. (Although, Josh has given it a higher final rating than I shall.)

…in Blanton’s price-point, does it reign supreme?  In a word: No.

As the whiskey consumer gets bombarded with more and more offerings in whiskey and Bourbon, it’s going to get tougher to discern quality from hype. For an established brand like Blanton’s, I don’t believe the hype is holding out; not at its pricing, anyway. [I still can’t believe this stuff shares the same mashbill as Rock Hill Farms and Elmer T. Lee.]

Not to say that Blanton’s is bad. It’s good.  Quite good.  But I’d feel more comfortable recommending it if it were more affordable.

Now, here’s something I haven’t done in a while.  Would I mix Blanton’s in a cocktail? Yes I would.  What ones would work best? Here:

…and it makes a nice Old Fashioned.

Would I turn down a dram of Blanton’s? Certainly not!  Would pay over $40 for it? Certainly not.

Final Rating: 85 out of 100