Saturday, May 10, 2014

Review #9 - Blanton's Straight From The Barrel Bourbon

I love anything whiskey that is cask strength or barrel proof. There is something magical in getting uncut and unfiltered whiskey right out of the barrel and into the glass. The aggressiveness of a barrel proof whiskey challenges you to engage in an intricate battle or to tuck tail and accept defeat. Blanton's Straight From The Barrel (SFTB) is no different in that regard. It is edgy and often times harsh on each level of the flavor profile all the way into and through the finish. But don't get me wrong, the flavors that it provides are extremely complex and layered. This is not by any means a one dimensional bourbon.

SFTB is the stronger and more aggressive brother to the standard single barrel Blanton's and the Gold Edition which I previously reviewed in Review #5. Like the Gold Edition the SFTB is not released in the United States. I have been lucky enough to purchase a bottle because I happen to live in Germany.


Whiskey Type - Bourbon

Alcohol By Volume (ABV) - 65.85% (131.7 proof)

Bottling Date - 09-06-2012

Mashbill Buffalo Trace's Mashbill #2 which is the higher Rye recipe.

Barrel Number - 68

Bottle Number - 173

Age - No age statement. Most likely around 8 years.

Cherry Cola (Dr. Pepper)
Lemon sour candy
Cinnamon red hots

Dark Peppermint chocolate 
Rich Espresso 
Heavy oak
Black licorice 

Bitter coffee
Charred Oak
Wood varnish

The finish is medium to long with an oily mouthfeel. The alcohol is very overwhelming with this bourbon so my advice is to liberally use water to proof it down. 

There is no compromise with this barrel proof. A pure beast. There is something to be said of being challenged by a whisky and another to be said for finding the balance between a good challenge and enjoyment. SFTB really leaves no margin at all. I love the fact that it is non-chill filtered and left uncut. I wish more distilleries would provide whiskey at this level. It takes quite a bit of water to calm this down and even then it doesn't resemble the Blanton's Gold at all which shocks me. It makes me think that this version of Blantons may be slightly younger than the Gold. SFTB is really the first bourbon that I've encountered that doesn't have that overtly bourbon sweetness to it. It is a strong whiskey that has been left unpolished and is not for the feint of heart.

3.5 out of 5. I'm giving SFTB a rating of 3.5 because of its non chill filtered and barrel proof nature. I also believe that there is a lot of dark and complex savory flavors that make this unique for a bourbon. SFTB is far from a beginners whiskey and it lacks the overall balance and roundness qualities for which most high end bourbons are known. It is a challenge to get past the nose, palate and finish and it will confront you at every opportunity. If given the chance I always encourage people to try whiskey at barrel proof just to experience the potential that a whiskey has when uncut but this bourbon must be consumed at your own risk. 

0 - hot dog water - nothing redeeming
1 - one dimensional - not complex and can be flat in areas
2 - entry level whiskey -  a few highlights for a good value
3 - daily sipper - solid, well made product that is always enjoyed.
4 - big whiskey - complex layered flavors - amazing balance
5 - huge, exceptional, unique, one of a kind