Before you want to hang me out to dry over this, view it with an open mind.
Blanton’s is iconic! Beautiful bottle, horse topper - with collectible letters that show each step of a horse galloping, the dump dates, and of course, it is Blanton’s after all.
I think everyone should own at least on bottle of Blanton’s in their time. I do not, however, think you should be hunting for it. If you are lucky enough to live within driving distance from Buffalo Trace Distillery, I advise you make a trip there with the potential to score a bottle for less than $65 retail. A theme you will notice with me, I hate secondary. buying something on secondary is a ripoff. Do not get ripped off over whiskey.
So what is Blanton’s?
Blanton’s is a single barrel bourbon, which means that one barrel of bourbon is dumped and bottled. No batching, mingling, or blending can happen. Each barrel is different, one barrel on the bottom floor could be softer and have lighter sweet notes, while one aged on the top floor may have more spice and oak tannins. Blanton’s is also aged in the historic Warehouse H at Buffalo Trace, the only metal warehouse on the property.
Create by Elmer T. Lee in 1984, Blanton’s is what is considered the ‘mashbill 2’ recipe from Buffalo Trace, which is the “higher rye” recipe that they offer. Elmer created the iconic brand in name of Albert Blanton who was at one tie, president of the distillery and also worked under the well known Col. E.H. Taylor. Elmer wanted to designate a brand to remember and pay homage to someone who lead their brand and the business as a whole to a new level.
Today, Blanton’s has become a trophy. I have to admit, I do feel like a child getting the golden ticket to the Wonka Factory every time I find one at retail. There is just something magical about finding for a fair price. I hope that everyone who reads this, if you haven’t yet, find one at retail soon. Open it, share it, experience it. Blanton’s is known for being “smooth.” A term I hate to hear, but I do understand why people say it. Blanton’s has a very soft mouthfeel, almost marshmallow like. Rich with vanilla, burnt caramel, dried fruit, and baking spice - it is a very basic whiskey profile, yet done so well for a 93 proof whiskey.
What is something I can try that is similar to Blanton’s? I am glad you asked!
My first suggestion, every time is going to be Evan Williams Single Barrel. 86 proof, ranging from 7 to 8 years old, which is older than Blanton’s these days to keep up with demand. EW Single Barrel retains some of the same flavors, but has a much thinner mouthfeel due to the extra water added to the whiskey.
Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit is another great option! While this is bolder, spicier, and a bit high in proof than Blanton’s - I have to say several people i know would have never tried this had I not suggested it. WT gets a bad rap, but this bottle of juice is fantastic! Want a lower proof option? Add 3 to 4 drops of water to get that similar proof point to Blanton’s. It helps round off those rough edges and brings out more of the sweetness in the liquid.
If you live near a Total Wine that is outside of Kentucky - Chestnut Farms. Rumored to be a 6 to 9 year blend of juice from Buffalo Trace, this bottled has loads of dried fruit, vanilla, and oak that is slightly subdued in Blanton’s. It retails for about the same price as Blanton’s and has fooled my friends in blind tastings on more than one occasion!
Buffalo Trace Store Picks - I know, I know, i am suggesting something that is also few and far between, but hear me out. Buffalo Trace does this fun thing where they sometimes toss their Mashbill 2 recipe into the mix for single barrel picks of Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare. Why? Based on taste. If the barrel doesn’t meet the profile they want for a MB2 product, they move it to their MB1 lineup. Buffalo Trace store picks are very different than the batched stuff you’re used to - most of the time better tasting than Blanton’s and will always be older than most Blanton’s too!
This is a small list of alternatives, but are 4 damn good replacements. Like I stated earlier, everyone should buy a bottle of Blanton’s to experience the hype, but do not pay secondary and dont go out of your way for a bottle. There are so many amazing products out there for you to enjoy. Who knows, maybe you will try Blanton’s and hate it and not understand why everyone loves it so much.
Shoot me an email or DM on instagram @mydailybourbon and let me know your thoughts and alternatives for Blanton’s and I’ll make an updated list down the road!