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Blanton's Gold Edition

Posted on by Eric Burke

Does anyone know what bourbon goes best with a microwavable frozen chicken sandwich? Asking for a friend.

My wife is away at a work meeting tonight and so I am left on my own for supper. And while I thought, briefly, that this was a good excuse to skip supper and move straight to the tv and a drink, alas, I am too much of a responsible adult for that. So instead I proved just how much of a responsible adult I am by skipping anything healthy that I might have in the house and eating out of a gas station freezer section.

It really is a good thing I don't write for a food site. I value convenience in my meals way more than I should. Yep, luckily for you, I write about bourbon.

When it comes to bourbon, convenience is not an issue. Sure, I will happily pay a few dollars more per bottle at my corner store in order to avoid a trip across town. But, I will also happily place an order from across an ocean if they have one I'd like to try. Maybe one like tonight's subject.

Blanton's Gold Edition is a 103° proof bourbon produced for Age International, Inc. at the Buffalo Trace Distillery for sale in international markets. Why can't we get it here? No idea. I'm sure it makes a lot of sense to someone that makes way more money than me.

Blanton's Gold Edition

Purchase Info: £6.03 for a 3 cl bottle at MasterofMalt.com ($8.44 for a roughly one-ounce bottle at today's conversion rate. A full bottle sells for about $77.)

Details: 51.5% ABV.

Nose: Caramel, brown sugar, mint, baking spice and wet rock.

Mouth:  Thick and chewy mouthfeel. Lightly floral with spicy heat. Mint and caramel. 

Finish: Medium length with lingering cinnamon and dark chocolate.

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Thoughts: This is a beautiful whiskey if you like spice, which I do. Thick, chewy mouthfeel with a lot of spice backed up by floral mint. This stuff is really good. At roughly $75 US, this would be a something to seek out if it were available here. As it is, I'm making plans to get a full bottle the next time I place an order.


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Blanton's Special Reserve

Posted on by Eric Burke

Can we all agree that silly as it may be, price and a fancy bottle do have an effect on the perception of a whiskey? Bourbon aficionados know that, no matter how much they might enjoy a glass of Basil Hayden's now and then, it is basically a slightly more refined version of Old Grand Dad. A diluted and probably over-priced version, but one that is suitable for a beginners palate and is priced at a point where a person can feel like they are indulging a little bit when they buy it. It's an introductory bourbon. Soft, refined and delicate. 

Speaking of introductory bourbons, Blanton's Special Reserve is the subject of tonight's post. It is not available in the US market. If it were, I think it would compete on the same footing as Basil Hayden's. It is an entry-level bourbon much in the same way that Basil Hayden's Bourbon is. It's light and delicate to appeal to a beginner's palate. It is also giftable to as it comes in a fancy bottle so you can gift it to a beginner and they will feel like you really bought them something nice. At least if you are in the market where it is sold. 

When I saw that there was a Blanton's that was 40% ABV, I didn't think it would be an amazing bourbon. I mostly bought it because it seemed silly not to when I was buying the other two non-US expressions. I was correct, this isn't the most amazing Blanton's expression out there, but after tasting it, at least I think I now know why it exists and where it fits in the marketplace.

Blanton's Special Reserve

Purchase Info: £4.72 for a 3 cl bottle at MasterofMalt.com ($6.65 for a roughly one-ounce bottle at today's conversion rate. A full bottle sells for about $50.) 

Detail: 40% ABV.

Nose: Caramel, peppermint, and dried corn.

Mouth: Delicate sweet floral flavors with some spice. Cinnamon and mint.

Finish: Floral and quick.

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Thoughts: This is fine. It's nothing to write home about. It certainly isn't worth paying international shipping for. My wife rated it meh. I rated it as a low-level like but not a good value so I'm going with her rating on this. For my tastes, I'm pretty ok with this one not being sold in the US.  


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Retailer Review: Master of Malt

Posted on by Eric Burke

The first time I went to Canada, I had a shopping list of bottles that I hoped to buy. Oddly, one of those bottles was a bourbon. You probably know this, but even though bourbon has to be made in the United States, there are brands and bottles that are not sold here. Four Roses, Evan Williams and Blanton's, to name just a few, have releases that are tailored to specific markets that are not the US. Why? Only the bean counters and marketers know for sure.

Now, ever since I learned that there were bourbons that were not sold in the United States (way back in the dark days as I was starting my bourbon journey), I've been curious to try these fruits that had been forbidden to me. And that trip to Canada was going to be the time I got them. I checked the LCBO website before I left and, sure enough, Blanton's Straight from the Barrel was in stock. 

Yes, this was a long time ago.

But one thing I hadn't counted on was my less enthusiastic wife letting me know that I wasn't spending half of her Canadian Whisky budget on a bourbon. It seems that she felt that some very tasty Canada-only whiskies that were, in fact, made in Canada would make a better souvenir for our first visit to the country.

Shortly thereafter I found the Master of Malt site. They sell not only full bottles but also 30 mL samples as part of their Drinks by the Dram program. Of course, the accountant in the house decided that a shipping cost of about $40 was too high for what might work out to just a few samples. And she was correct so I let it sit for a while. 

To be honest, I played the long game on this one. What I was really hoping to try were the various Blanton's expressions that were not available in the US. I knew she would like Blanton's if I could get her to try it. But then a funny thing happened. 

Blanton's disappeared from US shelves. Everyone else wanted it just as I was convincing her to give it a try. Shortages led to allocation which led to a multiple-year pause for my plan. Last September, I happened upon a bottle of Blanton's in Kentucky. Here was my chance.

I had her try it. She loved it and after a few months, I mentioned this site I knew where we could try a barrel proof version. She was interested. I popped 2 samples of Blanton's Straight from the Barrel, Blanton's Gold and Blanton's Special Reserve in my cart. The cart was roughly $40 for 6 ounces of whiskey...shipping and duties was another $42. $82 for 6 ounces of whiskey was a little too rich for my blood. But...

The shipping is based on weight so a full bottle only cost $45 for shipping and duties. And, even better, a full bottle and four samples also only cost $45 to ship. That makes the shipping feel much more reasonable. And so I bought a bottle of Blanton's Straight from the Barrel and samples of Blanton's Gold and Blanton's Special Reserve.

Three days later, yes three days, the whiskey was on my Mother's porch. It had to go to my mom's house in Wisconsin because Minnesota's import laws favor in-state producers and do not allow whiskey shipments. I am a happy customer and highly recommend them if you can stomach the shipping. 


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Bird Dog 10 Year Old Very Small Batch

Posted on by Eric Burke

My first introduction to the Bird Dog brand was a while ago. I liked to stop by the Burnsville location of one of our local chains because the guy they had working in the bourbon department was top-notch. We had fun whiskey conversations all the time. 

Often, the chat would start with me asking what new stuff they'd gotten in recently and what they were expecting. During a lull one time, he pointed to something new they'd gotten in. It was one of the flavored Bird Dog whiskeys: peach, blackberry, something like that. 

I was going through a deep philosophical dislike of flavored bourbon at the time. And since in my mind, Bird Dog was a "flavored Bourbon company" I never really gave them another thought. I've since softened immensely on the idea of flavored bourbon, figuring that I needed to shut up and just let people drink what they like. But for some reason, that initial impression of the brand was hard to shake. 

Well, that is until I was walking through the store last week looking for something to review. I was walking down the bourbon aisle, waiting for something that I hadn't had before to catch my eye. 

Yes, sometimes this really is how things get on the site.

Anyway, I was walking, and I noticed right next to Bookers was a bottle that said "10 Years Old" big and bold right across the label. Glancing down at the price, I saw that it was $35. "Well, shit," I said, "no matter who is putting this out, 10-year-old and under $40 is interesting." So I grabbed the bottle of Bird Dog 10-year-old and went on my merry way. 

Now, once I got home, and I did have a few questions for the producer. I knew this was a sourced bourbon and was put out by the same people as the Calumet so I reached out to them. I figured if I had these questions, you would too. Jon Holecz, Vice President of Marketing at Western Spirits (the Bird Dog brand owner) was kind enough to answer my questions. 

First, noticing the lack of Straight on the label, I asked: "There is no mention of the word straight on the label. Was this a marketing decision or does this not qualify for that designation? As it is a sourced product, I know that it can't be called straight if it is sourced from multiple states, etc. And speaking of sourcing, are you at liberty to disclose where it is from?"

Jon: "This was a marketing decision, and all of our bourbon is distilled and aged in KY. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to disclose our source for this bourbon. Sorry!"

My wife noticed the "very small batch" near the bottom of the label and wondered "how small is your very small batch?"

Jon: "Each batch uses less than 100 barrels in the Bird Dog 10 Year Old Very Small Batch."

And finally, I was shocked by an age stated bourbon for an affordable price: "A 10-year-old bourbon at an affordable price is something of a rarity these days. I applaud you for being able to pull that off. I guess my final question is how did you accomplish it?"

Jon: "We are very proud of our Bird Dog 10 year old.  As Bird Dog is still a new brand to many consumers, we do not want to over price ourselves in the super competitive market."

I want to thank Jon for taking the time to answer my questions.

Bird Dog 10 Year Old Very Small Batch Bourbon

Purchase Info: $34.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine in Burnsville, MN.

Details: 10 Years Old. 45% ABV.

Nose: Bubblegum, mint, vanilla and a little dill.

Mouth: Good spice in the mouth, mint, vanilla, and oak tannins. 

Finish: Medium length. Nice spice at the back of the tongue. Lingering dark chocolate notes.

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Thoughts: This is a ten-year-old bourbon that I bought for $35. That alone makes this worth a look. The fact that it is pretty tasty helps too. It is a very solid, well-crafted bourbon that has a nice "well-aged" flavor. Good oak which is not overpowering, good vanilla sweetness, and good spice. It works well neat and holds up well in a cocktail. If you are trying to find something to compare it to, it sort of reminds me of a Barton bourbon. Yeah. I like this one.  


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

Comments & Responses: What Annoys the Readers!

Posted on by Eric Burke

A couple of weeks ago, I went and listed my top five bourbon-related annoyances. And then I asked what annoyed you, the readers. And I got so many great responses that I want to share some of my favorites. So I've poured a measure of Jim Beam Black into my favorite Heaven Hill glass and here we go.

Lynn R. writes: "Wax!!! It drives me insane."

And Lynn is not alone. Over 10% of respondents listed wax as the thing that annoys them most about bourbon. And I'm right there with them. If you want me to drink your product, don't force me to make a mess of things just to get into it. Save that for after I've had a few tastes of what's inside...

Now Drew P. agrees with Lynn but takes it a little bit further: "Faux premium, charging a high price for a bad product but fancying it up through marketing. Also the wax and packaging." 

So yeah, on some level, I agree with Drew here. How many times have you bought something that looks great on the shelf and costs a fair bit of money only to have it be just..."fine" or "ok, I guess?" This situation sucks! And even worse, to prevent this, you only have two options: buy the same thing all the time, or really know how to read the label. You'll need to look for terms like "Straight," or "Bottled in Bond" (which fewer and fewer people are using these days) to guarantee it is at least two or four years old. You need to look for an age statement—if it doesn't have one, it is at least four years old. And very importantly, look for the words "bottled by" because if you see this, it is a sourced product and is very possibly overpriced. 

And speaking of ages, Christopher F. writes: "No age labels."

Yeah, this is a battle we are all losing. Age statements are dropping everywhere we look. And even worse, the "straight" designation is dropping now too. And not necessarily because producers are putting out products that aren't old enough, they are just leaving it off. And I don't understand why. It's a small word that tells you that it is at least two years old, is all made in the same state, etc. Why not use a designation you earn? Annoying.

Greg P. writes: "I really don't have any, as most of the people I know who drink bourbon are pretty darn cool people!"

I may not have met Gregg in person before, but I'll speak for all bourbon lovers out there when I say:

Aww...shucks...

George H. is annoyed by: "Living so far away from Kentucky."

I hear you, George, I  hear you.

Joshua C. writes: "People who don't know the difference between a rye whiskey and a bourbon whiskey. I'm tired of seeing posts stating: "This is my favorite rye" with a picture of Russel's Reserve SB Bourbon above it. Get it straight. There is a difference. And there is a reason for it. Anyway, minor but it is quite a bit annoying. Cheers to good rye! Or is it bourbon?"

Yeah, I mean at least read the label a little bit, right?

Allen L. says: "This can be applied to other spirits as well. The "Costco" sized 1.75-liter bottles are such a deal per ounce that one's liquor cabinet can no longer hold a variety of different and interesting varieties. And it then becomes a job (although not that much of a job if the bourbon is to your taste) to get through the bottle. A bottle can be a sizeable investment."

Allen...
Buddy...
I love you, but are you really complaining about getting too much bourbon for too low a price? That sounds more like a brag to me...

Jeff W. writes: "Asking what brands of bourbon a bar/restaurant carries and being given a BS answer like "we have whiskey" or " we have Johnny Walker" or "we have Jack Daniels.""

Jeff needs a new bar. I'm kidding. But seriously, this doesn't happen to me as much anymore. I normally have a much better bourbon selection than a lot of the bars I visit, and if I don't, they usually have at least a little knowledge. But, if it does happen, I'd move to beer and save my bourbon drinking for home. 

And now the annoyance that had the biggest percentage of complaints: snob/dicks/etc. I'm going to share a few of these before I comment on them.

Anthony B. writes: "Snobs. If someone like a cheap Bourbon, that is their business. It tastes good to them, and that is all that matters."

Dave K.: "The "you are doing it wrong" crowd. It makes people that are new to whiskey or are trying new things afraid to talk/post about what they are trying, or afraid to ask questions. We should all be as welcoming and helpful as possible to everyone that shares our love of whiskey!"

Ross says: Being told that I only drink cheap whiskey by people that don't even drink the stuff. Went to a national championship game party with a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed and was berated by the host because it was Wild Turkey...so he pulled out his bottle of Basil Hayden's. Just annoying that people think they need to spend so much on whiskey."

I could keep posting, but these hit the high points. So let me start by saying: you gotta be a special kind of asshole to tell someone that they are enjoying themselves incorrectly. And that's what I see here. 

Anthony, if your favorite bourbon is inexpensive, that is awesome for you, and it is no one else's damn business what you like. There is a reason there is always a handle of Wild Turkey on my shelf. (Sorry Allen.)

Dave. Right on man. "There are no dumb questions" is on the wall of schools for a reason. If everyone could just remember that at one point they were also new to this and offered encouragement instead of insults and snide comments, the whiskey world would be a much better place.

And Ross: Good lord man! I wouldn't have stayed. If someone is that clueless, and so proud of their cluelessness? That isn't just annoying that there is a special kind of asshole. Let them drink the overpriced and overwatered Old Grand Dad, and the rest of us can keep the good stuff a secret. 

Finally, Kevin says he is annoyed by: "An empty glass"

And since that is what I have right now, I'll end this right here.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!

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