The Problem With Blanton’s Is Its Greatest Asset

In this blind tasting, I put Blanton’s to the test. It finished strong, for sure. But did it win?

Never in my career have I considered Blanton’s an elite bourbon.

When I was at Whisky Advocate, I rated Maker’s Mark, a craft bottled in bond (Tom’s Foolery) and Eagle Rare higher than Blanton’s. Yet, nobody loses their shit over these brands, and I don’t recommend them as gifts as frequently as I do Blanton’s.

Blanton’s package is hands down the very best in all of bourbon. The circular, easy-gripped curvy shape with the jockey and horse closure: Nothing sings Kentucky like this bottle and every inch of the label and bottle feel special.

If you collect every jockey, it spells out “Blanton’s.” And the fact that the Elmer T. Lee’s connected to this bottle, named after the great Albert Blanton, who actually pioneered single barrels before we called them such, makes this all the more special.

This 1952 barrel pick from the Albert Blanton sold for $10,000 at auction in 2018. This bottle is evidence of Blanton selecting and selling single barrels long before they became popularized. For this, Blanton had the brand “Blanton’s” named after him. Elmer T. Lee was the distiller who selected the barrels.

When I look at the package, I have an expectation of greatness. The bottle is perfect. The whiskey…. is not.

I would buy the majority of Buffalo Trace’s products over Blanton’s, and I do. Maybe once I found the whiskey matched the bottle, but I’d never go out of my way to buy Blanton’s over Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace or even Ancient Age.

Yet that bottle, in all of its shimmering glory, attracts new bourbon eyes, gift buyers and makes the palate salivate for an exceptional taste. When I put Blanton’s in my YouTube blind tasting, I wanted to be fair and give it the best shot I could. It did well, but not allocation well.

In the tasting lineup were Horse Soldier Signature, Corner Creek 10-year-old, Wild Turkey 101 and Elijah Craig Small Batch.

Blanton’s came in second; Elijah Craig Small Batch prevailed in a tasting that offered a bunch of mediocre tastes and one that as borderline 89 / 90 point quality for me. And that was Elijah Craig. Truthfully, if I put Blanton’s in a blind with my whiskey-of-the-year contenders, it would fail miserably.

Yet, you can find Elijah Craig in most bourbon-centric stores, and there won’t be a Blanton’s bottle in sight.

While I am buying Blanton’s store picks every chance I can, regular, once everyday Blanton’s remains the greatest “availability” conundrum to so many. Yet the reason it’s so popular is plain as day: The bottle tells the story of Kentucky bourbon.

When did the hype start? It’s hard to say.

But even though we bitch about Blanton’s over-hyped status, most of us buy a bottle when we see it. The lure of the bottle gets me every time!

Stay In Touch!

15 Replies to “The Problem With Blanton’s Is Its Greatest Asset”

    1. I agree completely. I’ve put it in several blind tastings against everything from everyday shelters to allocated, expensive stuff and it’s never done all that well. It’s perfectly fine, but that’s not exactly what you want from a bourbon that some folks will race to the store for.

      I have had a few store pick Blanton’s that were on another level, but that can be the case on any store pick.

  1. I bought a couple of Blanton’s for a few years, it is good for $50 or $60, but not for the outrageous prices I have seen lately. I won’t buy it at those prices. I think the late Bourbon prices are a con.

  2. It’s the taste that gets me. Once introduced it’s the smoothest I’ve tasted so far(don’t care for the burn). My close rated second would be Uncle Nearest 1856.

  3. Blanton and common BT killed Elmer t, AAA 10yr, rock hill farms, and several other products in trying to raise the quality of the 2. So while it maybe part of history it is also destroying it. And personally I would rather have the listed bourbons over Blanton’s.

  4. Blanton’s to be sure is good not great bourbon and I like you would grab a bottle if I could. But I know why it’s not available. Buffalo Trace bottles it, seals it and sends it overseas all day every day. Take a trip to Australia, Japan, or New Zealand and pick yourself up a bottle for $500 smackers.

  5. I fully agree. My wife, who is from Kentucky, loved the bottle and collected a full set of caps. Yet whenever I taste Blanton’s I feel a sense of disappointment. It doesn’t live up to expectations

  6. We play the blind game at my house. I ask the wife to blind me on one of the 100 or so bottles I have open. I try to do typical blind stuff, guess the age, proof and distillate. I love the game because it keeps me 100% honest. A few months ago I asked her to pour me something. I guessed the proof was around 90 and I felt like it was a BT product. I also felt that it was a bit young and due to the nose and palate being filled with corn. It felt really familiar but I didn’t really much like it. I guessed that it was Ancient Age 90. And I’m pretty familiar with it as that’s the game day bourbon that I drink during UK football and basketball events (kind of a superstitious tradition). Much to my surprised I was basically right on with the proof and distillery. But it wasn’t AA90. It was a normal Blantons SiB from 2019. Wow! I was both elated that I got the mashbill correct, but extremely disappointed that I thought Blantons tasted like a sub $10 bottle. So suffice to say I’ll never buy a Blantons for personal consumption ever again.

    Or at least until they put age statements on them 😉

  7. Can’t agree more,I catch alot of heat from bourbon snobs when I say Blantons isn’t all its hyped up to be.

  8. I agree, Blantons is highly overrated, prood seems weak at times. I’ll take Eagle Rare instead

  9. Well, I beg all to consider every single barrel is an adventure. They are different for every bourbon drinkers palate, some bottles of the top rated bourbons won’t pass the test, yet some good low priced bourbons can be truly unique flavorful experiences, including BT, Weller, Four Roses, Willet, and many others. As you likely already know, flavor profiles can be different for every bourbon drinker

  10. Blantons will always be considered great to me because of the interest it gave me more than what is in the bottle. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a pour of Blantons, but it’s scarcity drew me into hunting around, learning about other allocated products, and ultimately trying so many other quality bourbons because it wasn’t available. It was a major reason for getting out and talking to folks in the liquor stores, gaining insight from them, reading reviews etc. The “if you like that, try this” conversation is probably had more around Blantons than most other bourbons. What was once a sad bottle of basil (it’s been awhile) and 1792 when it was still 8yr ridgemont reserve has now turned into an ever-expanding 70+ bottle collection. If blantons wasn’t so popular and therefore so hard to find, I probably would’ve never branched out and tried so many other wonderful pours. From a drinking standpoint, it’s still in my top 10-15 but from an education standpoint it is priceless.

  11. The truth is all these bourbon experts are full of crap. Yes, there are some bad bourbons but most are just as good as each other. Hint of pomegranate, essence of juniper in spring. Bullshit. I hope they’re not being paid much. Double test any 8 single barrels and you’ll never match the results.

Comments are closed.