Blanton's

$$$ — 46.5% ABV — No Age Stated

In 1984, Buffalo Trace bottled very select barrels of their Ancient Age high rye bourbon and released "the world's first single barrel bourbon whiskey." It is named after Col. Albert B. Blanton, who took over the distillery in 1921 after literally working his way up from the mailroom.

This is a very unique product for Buffalo Trace, but also one that many fans return to again and again. The higher content of rye (somewhere around 15%) would suggest this is a cinnamon-spicy drink, but it's actually very well-tempered and can be enjoyed straight out of the bottle.

A single barrel whiskey (barrels are not vatted together, but bottled individually), Blanton's is subject to some variability, bottle to bottle. Many hardcore fans watch for bottles with their favorite warehouse letter on them to guarantee the very best buy. Warehouses I and K, for instance, are argued to consistently produce above-average barrels — but that is all a very big can of worms.

As if the bottle wasn't distinct enough, its cork sports a jockey-and-horse handle. There are actually eight different poses for the horse, detailing start to finish of a derby race. Collecting them all requires a watchful eye and something north of $400 but, with a bourbon this fine, you may just make the collection accidentally.

Ancient Age is still available, if hard to find in some states, and the 10 year expression is quite the bargain. The more comparable Elmer T. Lee is also pulled from the same barrels, but those barrels are chosen for a more robust flavor.

Buffalo Trace is located in Frankfort, Kentucky in the Southern United States. Established in 1812 by Benjamin Harrison Blanton, it is now owned by the Sazerac Company.