In 1984, bourbon was having something of a 30-year low period. As Baby Boomers began to come into adulthood, they dismissed bourbon as the drink of their fathers, something to be ignored. However, 1984 was also the year all of that would change. That year, distillery manager Elmer T. Lee was tasked with developing a single-barrel bourbon that could stand amongst the likes of a fine cognac or single-malt scotch. What he developed was called Blanton’s — inspired by his renowned predecessor Albert Blanton — and it was the first bourbon of its kind (via Club Enologique).
As a result of Lee’s efforts, bourbon from 1984 has become akin to other fine spirits from the year, like The Macallan and Karuizawa, per Food and Wine. Four bottles of 1984 LeNell’s Red Hook Rye have sold for as much as $200,000. This is owning to the fact that only 892 bottles of LeNell’s, which were pulled from four hand-picked barrels, exist (via Go-Bourbon.com). Higher-end bourbons like these are the reason the spirit is no longer an afterthought. According to Vine Pair, bourbon has been on a continuous upward trajectory since 2010. Combine this growth with the new crop of craft distilleries all across America, and you have yourself a winning combination of old and new looking towards a profitable future.