Blanton's Original is a near-perfect daily sipper for me. It's just the right balance of sweet and boozy, with lots of complexity to keep me interested. A high-proof version of Blanton's Original needed to be made, and it comes in form of Blanton's Gold Edition bottled at 51.5% ABV (compared to 46.5% ABV of Blanton's Original).
Five percent of additional alcohol doesn't seem dramatic, and yet Blanton's Gold Edition takes on entirely new forms of flavor. This is a rougher drink: the distiller's grain notes (yeasty) are a little too high, the nuttiness hits a little harder, and it lacks that pleasant mouthfeel you get with Blanton's Original.
It hits hard, which is what you want in a higher-proof bourbon. Right? High-proof whiskies aren't intended to be polite drinks. They should burn and challenge the palate. But the pain should come with reward in the form of explosive flavor. Blanton's Gold Edition doesn't quite succeed. This isn't a bad thing. You always have the option of watering down a higher proof whisky. But Blanton's Gold comes at a premium price.
Each Blanton's Gold (just like the Original) is a Single Barrel bourbon. That means while they're intended to taste alike, each release might be the barest slightest different. I've tasted a few releases of Gold Edition and could never quite justify the price point compared to the original. Mostly, I really enjoy Blanton's Original and can't quite justify the extra spend for the gold-colored stopper and slightly higher-proof.
Blanton's Gold Edition
Buffalo Trace Distillery
Nose: Light caramel, some vanilla, low on spice and zest. The yeastiness really comes through very nicely. There's some soda pop in the background, in that light ginger sort of way.
Palate: Cinnamon spice, caramel, and a tight finish. When first poured, Blanton's Gold Edition tastes hot. I'm not one to complain (almost never) about high-proof whiskies, but this one shows its proof level. The intensity is there, and the sweetness is there, but the drink feels tight on flavor. It's not giving as much as it could.
Whisky Cabinet Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
The beauty of high proof whiskies is you're either fooled into thinking it's bottled at a lower proof (because there's so much flavor),or you're burned by the proof and yet can't help but come back for more because of the intensity of the drink. Blanton's Gold Edition tastes like over-proof Blanton's Single Barrel, and Blanton's Single Barrel is pretty damn good. Blanton's Original is a far better drink at two-thirds the price. A touch of water cools the bourbon. At that point, though, why not just save yourself a little money and get Blanton's Original?
*Whisky Cabinet Rating takes into account price and availability
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆ Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆ Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★ Extraordinary, memorable, and original