Westworld is finally back with its third season. Although I’m sure that by the time this article sees the light of day, the season will have already wrapped up. The show may have left behind the wild wild west theme this season, but I still can’t shake that old image of theirs from my head.
As we go through life, we learn to associate different things with the different aspects of our lives. It’s very apparent since more people have been able to associate themselves with Blanton’s lately thanks to shows and movies like Justified and John Wick. As a result, I’ve been hearing that Blanton’s has been hard to find in the US as of late. I don’t blame the new fans. The bottle is unique. I’ve heard some people say it reminds them of the Holy Hand Grenade in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
When we are asked to think of an old less and less lawful America, cowboys on horseback with revolvers usually come to mind. Of course, movies and shows have shown us that cowboys like to spend their time drinking booze in saloons. What kind of Malt contributor would I be if I can’t associate that fiery and romanticized era with American whiskey.
I generally think of two American whiskey brands when I watch Westworld. This applies vice versa as well. Those are Blanton’s and High West. I think of those two mainly due to them being American whiskey and their marketing. The title is an obvious give away that, for me, I associate the Blanton’s with the show more. I’m sure that some readers will say High West would fit the boot better because of their marketing. Also, Blanton’s horse tops represent a horse jockey in a race and not a cowboy. I agree with them. But the different horse top designs just remind me of the stationary galloping horse in season one’s opening credits.
Despite being made in the Buffalo Trace Distillery, there are at least four other expressions (Black, Green, Straight from the Barrel & Gold) of Blanton’s not available in the US. So, it’s safe to say the regular Blanton’s Original Single Barrel is the first Blanton’s a lot of us have tried. No one really knows why but it’s part of the non-disclosure agreement between the brand owner, Age Int’l, and Sazerac. Although it looks like the Gold will be available in the US in limited amounts soon.
For a bit of a background, Age Int’l is owned by a Japanese company called Takara Shuzo. Aside from Blanton’s they own other brands that use Buffalo Trace Distillery’s mash bill #2 like Ancient Age, Rockhill Farms, Elmer T Lee and Hancock’s Reserve. Aside from Japan, Singapore and France, I’m not sure which other countries sell more than just the Original Single Barrel. If you want more in depth discussion regarding Blanton’s history, Taylor has already covered it before. Bourbon Pursuit also discussed it with Fred Minnick.
I was planning on doing a Blanton’s vertical as I have the Gold version but it’s still unopened. So, I’ll just compare the Original Single Barrel and the Straight from the Barrel for this review.
Blanton’s Original Single Barrel – review
Dumped on 2-2-16, Stored in warehouse H, from barrel # 786, on rick 52 and bottled at 46.5% abv.
On the nose: A mellow heat followed by mild scents of toffee, honey, dusty wooden furniture, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Peach jam, hints of pineapple, hints of figs, hints of rye and more honey.
In the mouth: Astringent toffee, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, hints of peaches, brandied cherry juice and watermelon. A second sip gave off hints of rye, wooden furniture, leather, cloves, caramelized orange peel oil and a nutty syrup.
Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel – review
Dumped on 6-6-13, From barrel # 298 in warehouse H on rack # 46, bottled at 64.1% abv.
Color: Pecan nuts.
On the nose: Sweet and floral on the nose and not so much heat. Strong scents of honey, vanilla, hints of peach and cinnamon. Hints of apple pie, nuts, toffee and caramel come out after.
In the mouth: Astringent texture followed by mild heat and sweet bourbon notes. Honey, peppers, hints of peach jam, vanilla, brandied cherry juice, cinnamon syrup, toffee, caramel followed by heat appropriate with the abv. These are followed by cloves, muscovado sugar, more cinnamon syrup, vanilla and pecan nuts. An apple pie note creeps up at the end.
The Original is slightly disappointing and shy on the nose. I remember my previous bottle of this being more fragrant and sweeter. I had hoped the scents would be as strong as the last bottle due to the abv. But I guess this is the issue with single barrels. It more than makes up for it in the mouth. It’s very complex and expressive.
While this isn’t perfect, you can’t go wrong with this bourbon. At the price point of between $50 and $60, this is a great buy. If I were to compare this with Westworld’s season 1 though, because it was our intro to the show just like this bourbon is our intro to Blanton’s, it wouldn’t fit the boot. The first season is just a masterpiece while this bourbon is, at its best, a great deal.
This Straight from The Barrel is basically an Original Single Barrel on steroids. I am guessing this is not extra aged so there’s not much added complexity and length.
This is the first SFTB I’ve tried and owned so I have no other comparisons. I remember buying this for $85 around 3 years ago. I think it’s a great deal at that price. But I’ve been seeing it at around $100 to $110 ever since it won an award two years ago. I’d be hesitant to say it’s a great deal. I guess it would depend on the barrel your SFTB came from.
Unlike Westworld’s season two this did not disappoint. Many viewers felt season two fell short. But I find this SFTB to be head and shoulders better than the Original.
Image courtesy of Caskers.