There is not a single distillery that evokes more passion within Bourbon enthusiasts than Buffalo Trace, and that’s not even arguable.
Then, there’s the individual Bourbon that people are most passionate about. I would humbly suggest that distinction goes to that beautifully reddish-gold juice distilled in a large metal warehouse painted red with green trim in Franklin County, KY. Good ole Blanton’s.
Blanton’s Bourbon itself can arguably take credit for the Bourbon boom that we’re now experiencing, but I won’t go into details of that. What I’ll say is that Blanton’s epitomizes the William Falkner quote,
“There is no such thing as bad whisky. Some whiskies just happen to be better than others.”
And, Col. Albert T. Blanton, and Elmer T. Lee happened to realize that the bourbon aged in Warehouse H always fell into that latter category of “better than others”. So, Elmer T. Lee decided to start bottling those barrels separately, naming them Blanton’s Bourbon, and Blanton’s became the first commercially available single barrel bottles of bourbon the world ever saw.
In the past five or ten years, Blanton’s has transformed from a bourbon that was easy to find, and always available in the upper $50 to lower $60 range, to an enigmatic bottle that can be almost impossible to find. Then, once it is found, it is normally accompanied by a price tag in the range of $109 to $139 or even higher (even though it currently has a suggested retail price of $67.)
As with so many things within this site, I’m not going to tell you whether you should or should not buy the bottle of Blanton’s you find with a price tag in the $100+ range. It’s your money, I believe you worked hard for that money, and you should 100% do whatever you choose to do with that money. If that means you pay over $100 for a bottle of Blanton’s, I’ll never hold it against you.
Unless the entire bourbon industry continues getting more expensive, it’s unlikely I’ll personally ever pay more than $90 for a bottle of Blanton’s.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Blanton’s is a phenomenal bourbon. At $67, I can’t think of any whiskey on the planet I’d rather drink. Up to $90, it’s still a great bourbon, of course, but once we get into the $90 range, the competition starts to get much stiffer. That competition is why I won’t pay more than $90. To me, it has very little to do with what the MSRP is, it’s about what bourbon I can drink with the money I’d have to spend on Blanton’s.
In that $90 range, you start getting into some of the high end Rabbit Hole bottles, Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea Cask Strength Wheated, Maker’s Mark Private Select, and a few different Barrell bottles. Blanton’s absolutely competes well with these bottles, but how each individual ranks them is very personal and subjective. These bottles are why I’m still willing to pay up to $90, because it competes very well with them.
After $90 though, when we start getting up to what is becoming a common price for Blanton’s, we’re into some very heavy hitters. There’s Yellowstone Special Edition, Blood Oath, Bardstown Discovery Series, Woodford Reserve Batch Proof, multiple Belle Meade bottles, Bib & Tucker 10 or 12 years, and just so many more.
If you do a blind tasting of Blanton’s versus any of the other bottles in the $100+ range, and still prefer the Blanton’s, then I highly recommend you continue buying the Blanton’s at whatever price you see it.
On the other hand, if you do the blind tasting and share the opinion with what I truly believe is the majority, then you’re going to set your own personal limit on the price you’re willing to pay for Blanton’s, and it’s likely to be sub $90.
If you’ve never had Blanton’s, it is WELL worth the hype at $67. In my opinion, it becomes less worth the hype as it strays further away from that price. So, I discourage you from paying the exorbitant prices of $119 or higher at all, but, again, it’s your money, you earned it, and you SHOULD spend it however you choose. I’d offer instead that you visit a whiskey bar and have a dram before you decide how much you believe a bottle is worth.
What that bottle of beautiful reddish-gold bourbon is actually worth is 100% a subjective decision that no one can make for you. But damnit if it isn’t a pleasure to drink, especially the closer the price is to $67.