Blanton’s Single Barrel Special Reserve

G’day guys. Malt Liquor Mitch back with more whiskey. This week we’re switching sides of the Pacific, this week we’re going with one of Australia’s oldest friends, the United States of America. They are no stranger to fine malt liquor. And I’m about to dive straight into how fine it is.

Single barrel whiskey is a very esteemed categorization of bottle. I’ve only had three bottles so far in my life yet that come under this heading, and they definitely weren’t a dime a dozen. Big ticket items, quality stuff. A well crafted process based on the premise of a bottle tracing it’s origins back to a single batch of whiskey from a sole barrel. Meant to create consistency between bottles to maintain a taste far closer to what the label originally intended. What this entails is, when the label is permitted to spread their wings and are not constrained to limit their abilities to the confines of a price tag as tightly so that their drinkers can afford their bottles and will keep them in the black, they can create great liquors. Something they can use as a flagship to advertise and push forward to the public.

Blanton’s is a very prestigious label of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. One of the world’s favourite American whiskey. Very iconic. A short, wide, round octagonal bottle. Bearing a large wax-sealed cork with a figure of a racehorse and jockey, a patriotically Kentucky mascot. The corks themselves are an icon. Patrons keep them so often that they and their sister label Buffalo Trace sell merchandise, barrel heads and barrel staves crafted to display them and their accompanying bottles. I don’t blame them. I’ve had one of their bottles before too, it was too attractive a bottle to throw away. I still have it. Their Original Single Barrel Private Reserve. This must’ve been twenty-six, twenty-seventeen, I remember I liked it, I vaguely remember it being smooth but given how long ago it was now if I were correct I’d be surprised. The Original Private Reserve is a pricier bottle than today’s, today’s is their Single Barrel Special Reserve (Yes, their names get very confusing and riddled. It’s much easier to differentiate them by the colour of their wrappers and their pricetags). What the label puts forwards as a bottle to introduce more to single barrel whiskies. Their bottles themselves are all completely identical, the corks too. The labels wrapped around the width of bottles, disregarding their colour classes are the same – Printed in elegantly addressed italic writing, all stating the individual details of the batch in hand-written marker; The date the whiskey was dumped, and from which barrel, in which warehouse, and the individual bottle number. This one for example, is bottle number three-thirty-six, dumped on February the twenty-fifth twenty-nineteen, from barrel number fifteen in warehouse H. A collection enticing system of individuality. These bottles inspire this uniqueness that others can compare amongst other patrons of Blanton’s. Like those vintage cars with mistakenly fitted components from other makes and models on their assembly lines. Very unique. It’s more impressive upon reflection that anyone should posses two bottles bearing the same details. I move to open the bottle and savor the beautiful burnt-caramel liquor inside.

The toggles underneath the wax peel the wax off pleasingly, and the bronze equine comes free with an audible ceremonial pop, releasing a healthy and hearty nose of a perfect, textbook Kentucky straight bourbon nose. Deep, full-bodied and spicy. Brown sugar, molasses, sweet chili, Habanero chili, and vanilla. The bottle has a fluted lip underneath it’s cork, that looks great and pours like a decanter. In the first mouthful, the Special Reserve exhibits a floraly, sweet taste. A rosie sweet flavor, transitioning to strawberries and a hint of cinnamon. And an exit of cayenne pepper, generous with oak. And you guys know how much I love when they don’t skimp on the oak.

A lovingly refined bourbon, sweet in character, brash in pungence and dangerously smooth. I love this label, I have had nothing but good experiences with them. A definite drinker. Cheers

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