Blanton’s Gold Edition Bourbon
Review: Blanton’s Gold Edition Bourbon 84/100
Review by Chip Dykstra(aka The Rum Howler)
Published July 8, 2014
Blanton’s is a bourbon whiskey brand created by Sazerac and launched in 1984. The brand is named for Albert B. Blanton who worked at the Buffalo Trace Distillery for more than 50 years, and who apparently spent much of his time at the distillery promoting the traditions of handcrafted bourbon. Blanton’s claims to be the first modern whiskey designed and sold as a single barrel bourbon, and indeed the original brand name for the brand was “Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon”.
Blanton’s Gold Edition is produced from a mash bill of corn, rye, and malted barley which is distilled to 140 proof and barreled at 125 proof. Each bottle of Blanton’s Gold Edition is bottled from a single barrel (brought to 103 proof) after the whiskey has been chill filtered. Because even barrels which lie side by side in an aging warehouse (even though they may have exactly the same batch of distillate) will almost certainly age differently, there will be much potential for flavour variation between particular bottles of this Blanton’s bourbon. However, the general character of the whiskey should remain the same between bottlings as the master blender is selecting only those barrels which meet the particular flavour profile he is aiming for.
In the Bottle 3.5/5
The presentation for the Blanton’s Gold Edition is shown to the right. The bottle itself is very unique; but to be honest, it’s beehive-like shape reminds me more of a perfume bottle than a whiskey bottle. It also seems smaller than it ought to be because a spherical shape is more efficient for carrying a volume than a cylindrical shape. This efficiency has the drawback of subliminally suggesting to the consumer that a smaller volume of whiskey is inside that bottle. As well, (and maybe this is more of a case of my older eyes growing dim) I found the copper lettering of the label extremely hard to read against the background of the copper coloured whiskey. I also found that the cork stopper on my bottle began to break down after only a few visits to the whiskey, and soon filtering cork particles out of my whiskey was required each time I opened it. On the positive side, the very nice pewter/brass horse and rider crowning the topper looks very nice.
An interesting feature of the label is the myriad of information provided regarding not only the date from which this particular whiskey was dumped from its barrel (2-8-13); but also which warehouse it came from (Warehouse H); upon which rick the barrel was placed in that warehouse (No. 24), the barrel number (No. 119); and the bottle number (No. 16). However, curiously absent from the label is the date of distillation (and barreling) making this ultra premium bourbon a whiskey with no declared age. Not that non age-statement bottles are unusual; but it does seem to me that a bottle which is as expensive as this one (about $90.00/bottle in my market) perhaps should be proud of its age rather than hide from it.
Unfortunately the negatives outweigh the positives and a low score for presentation is the result.
In the Glass 8.5/10
When I poured the spirit into my glass I was happy to see a nice copper coloured whiskey reminiscent of a bright new penny. When I tilted my glencairn glass and gave it a slow twirl, I saw that the spirit left a medium thick oily sheen on the inside of the glass, the crest of which dropped medium-sized legs back down into the whiskey. I was perhaps surprised at the size of the leglets, as I was expecting fatter legs from a 103 proof whiskey, however this might be a reflection of a younger aged whiskey than I was expecting, or perhaps a reflection of the fact that no sugar is added to the bourbon before it is bottled.
The nose is very nice with honey, sap and wood spice rising into the breezes alongside subtle notes of Christmas cake (chocolate, raisins, dates and walnuts). There is a bit of an alcohol push along with a few grassy notes and some youthful astringency. As I let the glass sit I notice baking spices building (vanilla, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg) in the air along with some baked apples and canned pears. There are also some nice sweet and spicy notes of pipe tobacco. All in all the nose is very nice, and I have decided that with respect to the breezes above the glass, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. (The inviting aroma more than makes up for my misgivings over the bottle presentation.)
In the Mouth 50.5/60
The whiskey enters the mouth with more sweetness than was apparent on the nose. I taste sweet caramel and butterscotch melded into milk chocolate and orange marmalade. Following almost immediately behind the sweetness is a peppery swat of wood sap and wood spice, as well as a bit of spicy rye grain and fresh mowed hay. Corn comes on strong during the second sip as the butterscotch and caramel I tasted earlier now much more closely resembles corn syrup with tinges of maple flavour. In the background lurking inconspicuously are some fruity notes of baked apples and canned pears.
The whiskey is very good; however a touch of unpleasant sharpness from the wood spice and the high alcohol causes me to reach for an ice-cube to soothe my throat. When I swirl the whiskey and let the ice-cube do its business, the bourbon loses some (but not all) of that sharpness and brings additional flavours of vanilla, chocolate caramel, and cinnamon tinged baking spices. There are also pleasant undercurrents of sweet tobacco and roasted walnuts.
If not for a touch of youthful grassiness and astringency which seems out-of-place and a lingering spicy sharpness (even with the ice), I would have scored the whisky much higher.
In The Throat 13/15
The whiskey exits with a solid kick to the tonsils as it goes down leaving the palate and the throat with a warm glow. Fudgey chocolate and sweet caramel linger with glowing pockets of peppery cinnamon, tobacco spice and dry sawgrass. Keeping the score down just a touch is a lingering grassy bitterness which seems to thwart my pleasure.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
Blanton’s Gold Edition is a very good bourbon. However as I reflected upon the taste experience I found myself wishing for more. Perhaps it was that astringent sharpness which did not fully disappear with ice, or maybe it was that haunting echo of bitterness in the finish. Whatever it was, I found myself inexplicably putting my bottle back on the shelf after only a few small sips each time I sampled it. In fact, it took me almost four months to write this review, because I kept hoping that the whiskey would show me something more each time I sampled it again. Despite my many attempts, the whiskey remained reluctant to display the complexity and charm I was hoping for.
As I said, this is definitely a very good bourbon; but the particular bottle I sampled, (No. 16), from its particular barrel, (No. 119), from Rick No. 24, in Warehouse H, decided to play coy with my taste experience. My score of 84 reflects that I liked what I tasted; but I was hoping for more.
You may read some of my other Whiskey Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
As you can see by the picture to the right, I did a lot of ‘hands on’ research before I wrote my review. I found that I enjoyed the Blanton’s Gold Edition far more with ice than I did when I served it neat. However, my greatest enjoyment came when I served it with a splash of ginger ale over that ice.
2 oz Blanton’s Gold Edition Bourbon
2 dashes Fee’s Cocktail Bitters
Splash Ginger ale
In a Rocks glass add ice
Pour Bourbon over ice
add 2 dashes cocktail bitters
add splash of Ginger-ale
Note: If you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)