The 1970’s and 80’s were a tough dog fight for whiskey against vodka. Clear spirit popularity had risen and Team whiskey was spanked...bad! In these trying times, Distillers desperately sought creative angles to attract new business and return to glory.
The Scots were the first to make headway. They focused on wine enthusiasts’ appreciation for the individual characteristics of each grape. Could a similar appreciation be gained for singular scotch? Identifiable, single whiskies seemed like an opportunity (and a departure from the dominant scotch blending practice of the time). To delight of many, Single Malt scotch hit the market and quickly gained fanfare.
Observing this success from across the Atlantic was the American whiskey distiller. Similar to scotch, they were losing market share. They were also accustomed to batching (blending or mingling) the whiskey from many barrels for a consistent flavor profile. What can we offer that is bold a different? The American response to Single Malt Scotch was Single Barrel Whiskey.
...and the man leading this charge was Elmer T. Lee.
Wait...isn’t Elmer T. Lee a bourbon? Yes, but before he was forever immortalized on a bottle, he was Master Distiller at Age International.
In 1984, Elmer hand-selected a limited number of premium-aged barrels and introduced Blanton’s Bourbon. The new bourbon went on to repeatedly beat reining Kentucky favorite Maker’s Mark in blind taste tests.
The Single Barrel & Single Malt Success created opportunities for new expressions, expanding the variety for our enjoyment that continues to evolve today.
Extra shot! Blanton is named after Colonel Albert Blanton, a distiller for Schenley (https://www.whiskeyraw.com/blog/well-aged-bourbon-a-story-of-war-threats-taxes) in the 1930-40’s. On occasion, he would bottle bourbon from select single barrels for special guests visiting the distillery. Elmer T. Lee remembered this practice and it became the inspiration for Blanton’s Single Barrel.
Boom! Boom! It’s raining Florence size shots of knowledge! Stay dry and stock up!