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How To Truly, Actually Buy Blanton’s Bourbon This Fall

Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon is the OG single barrel bourbon and one of the most sought-after whiskeys out there. Today, the bottle is so popular and fleeting that people line up overnight at local retailers, pay premiums on the aftermarket and at auctions, and travel overseas just to snag a bottle. I’m a big fan too and have hoarded a stash of Blanton’s for both special occasions and investing. So I figured it was time to break down how I procured those bottles, in hopes that you might be able to buy one too.

Blanton’s — made by the Sazerac Company at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky — changed the bourbon game in the 1980s when it was first released. The bottle was the first ever single barrel bourbon release, which, admittedly, sounds crazy in 2022 when single barrel whiskeys are released nearly non-stop. The “drop” (they weren’t called that back then) was the masterstroke of Elmer T. Lee back in ’84. Basically, the distillery was looking to stay afloat and move product during the dark days of whiskey when distilleries were shuttering left and right.

The hand-selected, hand-dumped, hand-bottled, and hand-labeled whiskey was a massive hit — mostly in Japan — to the point that it damn near single-handedly saved the distillery from collapse. And to be fair, it is (and always was) an exceptional offering. The juice itself is from six to eight-year-old barrels from Buffalo Trace’s famed Warehouse H, which was built after Prohibition by Albert B. Blanton, or “Colonel Blanton” as he’s referred to at Buffalo Trace. These days, the process is still all done by hand like it was done in the 1980s to the point that there’s a room full of workers still hand-writing and sealing every label. While Buffalo Trace is mum about their water, yeast, and grains, we do know that Blanton’s come from their famed Mash Bill no. 2. That’s a slightly higher (but still low) rye mash bill that’s also used for Ancient Age, Elmer T. Lee, Rock Hill Farms, and Hancock’s Reserve bourbons.

When it comes to Blanton’s there are three core expressions — The OG Single Barrel Bourbon at 93 proof, Gold at 103 proof, and Straight From the Barrel at barrel proof plus a few international variations (more on those later). Read on for how to score one for yourself!

Also Read: The Top 5 UPROXX Bourbon Posts Of The Last Six Months

METHOD 1a — Retail

Blanton's Drizly
Drizly

This is going to take the most person-to-person conversation. Yes, some retailers still get an allotment of Blanton’s — mostly just the OG bottle though. My local liquor store (in Kentucky) just had a case or two come in last week. It was on the shelf for about 4 hours before it sold out. It was priced at $79.99. There was never a line outside.

Unfortunately, I was too late to get a bottle. Why? I didn’t ask the store manager to tag me when that particular bottle came in.

Blanton's Bottle
Zach Johnston

Here’s the rub with getting bottles at retail prices at retail shops — you need to first join their customer club/benefits club/member’s club. Then you need to become a regular. Then you need to strike up a conversation with the manager. Generally, if you’re a good customer who they see often, this should all be easy. But you have to have a relationship with the folks who work at these stores. Otherwise, you’re not getting anything unless — through blind luck — you show up and there’s some on the shelf.

Make the right friends. Be kind. Don’t ask for too much too early. Find out when allocated deliveries take place. Don’t abuse that information. Be a good neighbor. It’s not rocket science and it does work.

Method 1b — State Run Liquor Store

Blanton's Bottle
Virginia ABC

Another option is available to folks who live in a state-controlled liquor store state or “ABC” state where the local state government controls the distribution and/or run the stores. These states strictly control what bottles come into the state, where they go, and how they’re priced and sold. That means that price hikes generally never overshoot MSRP. But that also means that lines form (sometimes days) early for big releases like Blanton’s. Some states require a local driver’s license to buy booze, but beyond that wrinkle, this is widely considered a great equalizer for buying bottles.

If you live in one of these states, just click the link below to see if you can find some Blanton’s on the state’s product and price lists (availability will vary wildly)!

METHOD 1c — Online Retail

Then there’s online retail. This is a little dicier. Retailers like Drizly or Reserve Bar will get bottles in but they will only be available in certain regional markets. There’s no universal rule for buying/shipping booze in the U.S., so you’re at the whim of which state got what and their laws and which online retailer got their cut of that cut. So you may see a bottle of Blanton’s on Drizly for $89 but you’re in San Francisco, California, and that bottle is in Peoria, Illinois, and you’re out of luck. Naturally, sometimes the stars align with online retailers and you can score some serious bottles. You just have to set up alerts and check regularly in your zip code. To be frank, it’s likely easier just to go to your local (good) liquor store and get to know the staff.

PRO TIP:

Be warned. IRL retailers will mark up prices beyond the MSRP. Sometimes that markup might be $15, like in my local liquor store. Sometimes it might be a lot more. Know the MSRP (manufacturers suggested retail price) before you go into the shop or hit buy online.

Blanton’s Original is $65. Gold is $95. Straight From The Barrel is $110.

METHOD 2 — Visit The Distillery

Buffalo Trace Gift Shop
Buffalo Trace

Distillery bottle shops can be a gold mine. They can also be frustrating. The Gift Shop at Buffalo Trace is a great place to get rare bottles at true retail.

If you’re in making your pilgrimage to the Buffalo Trace promised land in Frankfort, Kentucky, you can grab one bottle from each brand at the Gift Shop every 90 days. After parking, there’s a tall red-brick building with a Buffalo on it. Before you walk in, there’ll be a sandwich board that’ll list the bottles currently being sold in the Gift Shop that day. Wheatly Vodka and Bourbon Creme are always on there. The top slot rotates daily. This can be Weller Special Reserve, Blanton’s, Elmer T. Lee, Eagle Rare 10, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, and maybe a few other entry-level bottles (never, ever is it Pappy — don’t bother).

Whichever bottle is available that day will be at MSRP. That means you can get a Weller SR for $30 or a Blanton’s for $65. If you live in north-central Kentucky, it’s not that hard to keep your ear to the ground and hear through the grapevine what’s on the sandwich board every day. If you’re not in the area, you can also check the Buffalo Trace website to see what’s available in general at the Gift Shop. If you’re in town for one day as a tourist, you’re getting whatever is on that sandwich board that day.

METHOD 3 — The Aftermarket

Blanton's Bottle
Justins

This is the easiest way to score a bottle. The aftermarket is a guaranteed win… but at a price. These are online and in-person retailers that will sell collectible and other hard-to-find bottles of whiskey that they buy, sell, and trade for.

The most legit place to get an aftermarket retail bottle of Blanton’s is Justins’ House of Bourbon in both Lexington and Louisville. A single bottle of the OG Blanton’s will set you back $249. That may sound dire. But there’s a guarantee involved that’s very important. There’s a ton of subterfuge and forgery in the high-end whiskey game. Places like Justins’ has a crew that makes sure you’re getting the real thing to the best of their ability. The same goes for online retailers like Frootbat.com, Caskers.com, and TheWhiskyExchange.com.

For the most part, you can rest assured you’re getting what you’ve paid (top dollar) for. Beyond that, things get dicey quickly.

Another option is to use WineSearcher.com for regional and international retailers that are selling Blanton’s — for a hefty aftermarket markup. Very generally speaking, you’ll be able to find a retailer local to you. You can then go into the shop and use common sense to verify if it’s all legit or not.

METHOD 4 — Buying At Auction

Blanton's Auction
Proxbid.com

This can be a very legitimate way to score Blanton’s if you follow the distillery auctions. Distilleries often release bottles throughout the year for various causes. Case in point, Buffalo Trace just released three bottles of Blanton’s (and several other huge name bottles) from their stocks for charity relief for Eastern Kentucky’s devastating floods. This is what you want to look for since there’s no question if these are real bottles or not. The benefit is also that you’ll actually be funneling the money you would have given an aftermarket retailer toward a good cause.

Right now, you can bid on all three Blanton’s — OG, Gold, and Straight from the Barrel — if you have a few grand to donate. Click right here to bid. You might win!

Then there are private house auctions for private charities for, say, golf clubs or retailers or a million other things. Sometimes those are fueled by donated bottles from private folks. The veracity of those bottles of Blanton’s is on those peoples’ words alone. The point I’m making here is to always, always do your research and find out where the bottles come from, who verified their legitimacy, and where they can actually deliver to (or if you have to pick them up).

METHOD 5 — Duty-Free

Blanton's Bottle
DFA

Okay, now we’re getting into the fun ways to buy Blanton’s! Traveling through IAD (Washington-Dulles) anytime soon? You can pre-order Blanton’s from their Duty-Free for pick up when you’re transferring internationally through that airport. The price is just over double MSRP per bottle, but it’s there.

German and Japanese Duty-Free is another great bet for bottles at much closer to MSRP. German Duty-Free will be a bit more hit and miss because the brand has a strong retail presence there (more on that next).

Japanese Duty-Free is the best bet, as Blanton’s tends to be widely available there too. You’ll generally find the OG bottle and then Black Label (and 80-proof version) and “Red Takara” Label Blanton’s (aged two years longer than Blanton’s otherwise the same as OG). Naturally, this will depend on which airport and which shop you’re in. Tokyo-Narita is the best bet — it’s a near guarantee you’ll find Blanton’s there.

And that’s just scratching the surface. The point is, check out Duty Free the next time you’re in a huge international airport. You might get really lucky.

METHOD 6 — International Retail

Blanton's Online
WhiskyOnline24.de

This is also a lot of fun but takes a little investment to, you know, actually, travel.

Again, Japan and Germany are your best options here. Though, this time, it’s Germany where you want to go for guaranteed retail. Here’s a big insider tip for Blanton’s OG, Gold, and Straight From The Barrel — you can get all three at retail shops in Berlin at MSRP. Big luxury shops like KaDeWe in Berlin will have three bottles of all three expressions on the shelf at most times. Regular whisk(e)y retailers in Germany will also have Blanton’s (and a lot of other Sazerac products) at MSRP pretty much all the time.

This is similar in Japan but those bottles tend to be Japanese-specific releases. Then again, those Japanese-specific releases have a lot more value when you bring them back to the U.S.. Anyway, if you ever needed another reason to travel, getting Blanton’s for sure is a good one.

***

Good luck out there this fall! And be sure to read our review of all three Blanton’s expressions before you pick your poison!

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