Kentucky and bourbon go together like, well, delicious bourbon and the sweet southern breeze. Defined as 51% corn, produced in the United States and aged for at least two years in new, charred oak barrels, Bourbon is notably an American beverage of choice. In fact, the United States Congress recognized bourbon whiskey as a “distinctive product of the United States” in 1964, making Bourbon America’s only native spirit by law.
Whether you like it neat, in a mint julep or carefully crafted into a Manhattan, every whiskey bourbon has a story and Blanton’s bourbon is no exception.
The History of Blanton’s Bourbon
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It all started back in 1984 when Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee, who was close to retiring, was asked to create a high-quality bourbon, a class of bourbon no one had ventured into before. Pondering back to his early career days with Colonel Albert B. Blanton, who was president of the distillery until 1952, Lee decided to follow his footsteps and handpick “honey barrels” from warehouse H and bottle the bourbon one barrel at a time. Blanton’s Single Barrel was born and with it a new “super premium” category of bourbon along with the world’s first single barrel bourbon.
It’s no coincidence that Lee used Warehouse H to age his premium bourbon. Built in 1933, Warehouse H was constructed quickly out of metal to anticipate the demand of bourbon after the repeal of prohibition. Colonel Blanton later surveyed the bourbon aged in the newly constructed warehouse and realized that the temperature inside the warehouse fluctuated with the outside air, causing the bourbon to interact with the oak at a faster pace.
Because Colonel Blanton favored Warehouse H for his “honey barrels” Lee decided to use the same warehouse to try out his new bourbon, and he was no newbie to the bourbon whiskey game. After serving in World War II, Elmer T. Lee returned back home to Kentucky and joined the distillery in the late 1940’s as a maintenance engineer. The more years he spent at the distillery the more he climbed, ultimately retiring as Plant Manager and Master Distiller in 1985.
Each bottle features a horse and jockey which is now an artistic trademark for the bourbon. Starting in 1999 a collector’s set of eight different stoppers were produced, each with a jockey and horse in a different stride. To add, each stopper has a letter and when lined up, they spell B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S.
Toted as The Orginal Single Barrel Bourbon, Blanton’s boasts tasting notes of nutmeg and spices. There are hints of vanilla and honey interspersed with caramel finishing with corn and nutmeg. Bourbon drinkers seem to agree that Blanton’s Bourbon is award-worthy, including a recent gold medal from the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.
Blanton’s Original is amazing on its own in a glass filled with ice, but we can all agree to add bourbon into recipes is a treat; these two recipes are just that.
Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Wake up on the right side of the bed with a shot of espresso and bourbon combined with foamed milk.
This bread pudding is made using dinner rolls (the perfect way to use up the leftovers from last night). Bourbon is infused into the bread pudding along with the salted caramel sauce which is drizzled on top. We won’t judge if you eat the caramel by the spoonful.
Today Blanton’s is produced at Buffalo Trace Distillery (alongside Buffalo Trace, Sazerac Rye, and Eagle Rare) which is open to visitors to tour for free.