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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. 


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