My whiskey for September 12th: Blanton's.
One of my fondest memories in recent years is sitting and drinking Blanton's with my dad. Because of that, it's difficult to really review it completely objectively outside a blind tasting. After all, the situations I'm drinking bourbon these days -- exhausted, late at night after a bar shift, as my wife and the world sleep around me -- aren't exactly the perfect tasting scenarios. That said, Blanton's is good enough to lift my spirits. The nose is nothing to write home about, but when it hits my tongue, it reminds me of the lovely honeyed taste Scotch aficionados write about. The mouthfeel isn't exactly thick, but it's not really thin or anything. The final taste and finish is a thing of beauty, one of the great back-of-tongue flavors and finishes in the world of bourbon, and whisk(e)y in general. The finish is what brings me back to bourbon -- a peaty scotch has a lovely finish, but nothing matches a beefy bourbon finish, save for a really exceptional (and/or old) American rye. The wood gives so much to the back of the tongue and the lingering taste on the throat.
I'm trying to avoid looking up outside information as I drink these whiskeys, but, unless my memory fails me, I think that Blanton's is part of the higher rye/lower corn mashbill that BT uses for some of its bourbons. That rye definitely kicks in that "back of tongue" grain interplay I keep harping about.When I want to tell people about the crazy tingling and "dancing-grain" tastes I get in some bourbons, I usually use the Weller bourbons as a point of reference. However, this freshly-cracked bottle of Blanton's is giving me the same thing, but with a rye profile. While Van Winkle is no doubt a great distiller, Blanton's (and Stagg) are the big arguments for how Harlan's mainline BT stuff can go toe-to-toe with the hyped Pappy (and its little bro Weller).
I'm trying avoid dipping too much into my stash of rare (mostly-US-only) bourbons, to keep mostly to whiskies that will be available at the Derby. I'm worried, drinking Blanton's now, that it will be hard to feel as enthusiastic about another bourbon as I do about this whiskey. That said, there are some lovely whiskies lined up on my shelf -- EC12, Wild Turkey, and the entire Four Roses line -- and a lot of them should offer some nice alternatives. Especially when it comes to the nose -- as I finished the last few drops, I can't help but notice how I quickly skip past nosing the whiskey (normally one of my favorite parts of the drinking experience) and just jump to the finish. I do have to say that's a clever way to get me to down my drink quick.