1984 marked the partial decline of western civilization. Stevie Wonder abandoned his funky roots for the drippy, I Just Called to Say I Love You. Escaping the sounds of Phil Collins or Duran Duran was impossible and TV supported this backslide with programs such as Dynasty, Cagney & Lacy and Knight Rider. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom didn’t help the situation at the box office but then came The Terminator, Ghost Busters and TV classics such as Cheers to dig the country out of its rut. 1984 was also the year that Blanton’s released the first single barrel bourbon. Suddenly the sour sights and sounds coming from the radio and television became tolerable when paired with this fine new bourbon.
A 16-year-old Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton started his career in 1897 at what is now the Buffalo Trace distillery. He worked his way up from office boy to distillery manager over a 15-year period. Blanton particularly liked the whiskey that came from barrels aged in the middle of the distillery in what was known as Warehouse H. He personally selected and tasted barrels from this part of the warehouse to create his own private reserve essentially inventing the concept of single barrel bourbon – bourbon taken entirely from one barrel and not blended with the contents of other whisky barrels. This private reserve was never offered for sale but used to amuse friends and special guests.
Bourbon icon and master distiller Elmer T Lee changed bourbon history when he took the reins and introduced the single barrel concept to the rest of the world in 1984 naming it after Colonel Blanton as a tribute. After its initial success the distillery continued expanding its line of single barrel bourbons that included the Gold Edition. “Blanton’s Gold Edition was created for discerning connoisseurs who appreciate exceptional smoothness and clean finish in their bourbon whiskey,” explains the distillery’s website. This bourbon has plenty of leathery and wood oak aromas wafting from the 103 proof whiskey. It’s balanced and smooth for high proof whiskey – dry with spicy rye accents but the star of the show are the honey notes that ride the wave from start to finish with a slow fade into cigar tobacco. And I’m talking about rich honey notes – where a ravenous Winnie the Pooh would break down your door with an axe looking for your bourbon – kind of honey. So be prepared.
If you’re staying in an area that bears call home, for example a forest, it’s best to pack up and leave. Choose somewhere free of predators where you can enjoy your bourbon in peace. However, here are some guidelines if you decide to stick around. Make sure you’re living space is kept spotless. This means suspending your bourbon plus your food, garbage, soap and toiletries from a tree far from where you plan to sleep. Do not keep any of these items in your tent including toothpaste. Bears enjoy toothpaste probably because like humans, they like to freshen up and practice good oral hygiene after snacking on reckless non-food-hanging campers.
It’s also a good idea to change out of the clothes you cook in and hang your cooking equipment from a tree so you don’t give the bears the needed tools to cook up all your friends into a tasty dish. Bear are equipped with Freddy Krueger like razor claws and have sharp pointy teeth. Plus they are stronger than you, can run faster that you, and can swim faster than you. Let’s face it, the only advantage you have over a bear is the ability to walk into a store and buy a bottle of bourbon. So if you come across a bear and have a bottle of Blanton’s Gold Edition, it’s safe to assume it’s the bourbon it wants. Remember, bears don’t like you. So if you decide to take a picture of the bear, don’t go crying on the news with your face half missing because the bear freaked out like Sean Penn on the paparazzi. Instead, leave the wild life photography to National Geographic and if your approached by a bear, stand your ground, make yourself look bigger and calmly negotiate with the bear. Then slowly back away. If it’s a grizzly you can try playing dead because a grizzly may not see you as a threat when you’re curled up in the fetal position.
At the same time, you may look like an instant meal when playing dead so if the bear attacks, this is probably a good time to fight back. Bash it over the bridge of its nose with your empty Blanton’s bottle. However, breaking this bottle, even to save your life, may be a tough decision to make. That’s because each bottle lists the date the bourbon was dumped, the barrel it came from and where that barrel was located in Warehouse H.
Making the bottle more collectable is a racehorse action figure cork stopper. “We have produced a collectors edition set of eight different stoppers, featuring a horse and jockey in different strides and poses. Each stopper is marked with a single letter that spells Blanton’s when the set has been completed,” explains the distillery. So instead of using your bottle as a weapon, learn from the 1984 version of the Karate Kid. A well-placed crane kick to the temple of Winnie the Pooh will do wonders for protecting your valuable bourbon from honey loving bears.
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