Buffalo Trace has another Blanton’s surprise for the U.S. market coming later this year: It’s bringing another international-only expression of the beloved bourbon to the domestic market with Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel.
Straight from the Barrel (colloquially known as SFTB) is an uncut and unfiltered version of the whiskey Americans typically know as a 93-proof, citrusy bourbon they can never find. SFTB is non-chill filtered, and bottled at barrel strength, meaning it can range up into the 120s or even 130s in its final bottling.
Parent distillery Buffalo Trace is making this an annual release for the U.S., following similar steps with Blanton’s Gold Label earlier this year (Gold Label will remain an annual springtime release).
For the history buffs out there, Blanton’s has a special place in bourbon history. It was the first ever single barrel bourbon. Named for former distillery president Colonel Albert B. Blanton, Blanton’s Original Single Barrel was created in 1984 by Elmer T. Lee, (whose name now also adorns another beloved whiskey that’s impossible to find).
According to tasting notes from the distillery, SFTB features notes of “dark chocolate, caramel and butter with earthy undertones of walnut and hazelnut on the nose. The palate delivers intrepid notes of warm vanilla, oak, toasted nuts and a rich spiciness with hints of butterscotch or honey, with a deep and resonant finish.”
In many ways, SFTB is the best of Blanton’s: the uncut unfiltered presentation is as close to drinking it out of the barrel as you can get, and for the world’s first single barrel bourbon, that’s a pretty important experience.
As we’ve mentioned before, international-market-only bourbons are common among the major producers. Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, and others all produce bourbons exclusively sold outside the United States, and many of them have begun bringing those labels “home” for domestic distribution. Maker’s Mark 101, for instance, will become a nation-wide staple later this year.
It’s worth noting that there is still a green label Blanton’s we’ve yet to see, which is officially known as Blanton’s Special Reserve. But as Special Reserve is typically bottled around 80 proof, we’re not exactly drooling the same way we are for SFTB.
As for the bad news (you knew this was coming): SFTB will be available in fairly limited quantities, one time a year, at a price point starting around $150. Expect horrible human beings to mark that up at retail and thereafter, but seek out a bottle if you can—it’s damn good stuff.