On 20 March 2017, BBS hosted a unique tasting event at Milroy's of Soho: four Blanton's Single Barrel releases bottled exclusively by La Maison Du Whisky to celebrate their Sixtieth Anniversary. This was to be followed by a much anticipated Pappy Van Winkle raffle ... but first the Blanton's tasting.
All four Single Barrel releases had been bottled on the same date (15 August 2016) at the same ABV (60%) from barrels that had been stored next to each other on the same rick (15) in the same warehouse (H). In other words, the barrels were practically identical to all intents and purposes. But how different would they taste? Following a brief introduction to the Blanton's range and its unusual history from Simo and @londonliquor, as well as a couple of drams of the Blanton's Original and Gold releases to get warmed up, we got to find out.
Now, if BBS had learned one thing from selecting the first BBS FEW Single Barrel a few days earlier, it was to expect significant flavour variance. And we were not disappointed. Although all four displayed the core characteristics of Blanton's that has made the range a standout BBS favourite, different elements stood out across each barrel, particularly once a few drops of water had been added to temper the heat of the alcohol. More than one member was seen desperately searching the LMDW website to see if their favourite barrel was still in stock only to be disappointed!
After the tasting was all said and done, it was time for Milroys and BBS' much anticipated Pappy Van Winkle raffle. Now, there's no easy way to allocate rare releases. The fact that such releases are often immediately flipped on online auction sites for multiples of their RRP only complicates the situation further.
Thanks to Milroy's support, BBS was able to do something a little bit different to help fulfil one of our core aims: making sure that whisky goes to people who will actually drink and enjoy (rather than flip) it. The premise was simple: everyone who attended the tasting had their name put in a Glen Cairn. The first three names pulled out by Simo were offered the chance to buy a bottle of either Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 Year Old, Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year Old or Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old for RRP. So far so usual. The twist was that each winner was asked to remove the foil from the bottle there and then to prevent any temptation to sell it. BBS was fortunate enough to have dinner with Preston Van Winkle a few days after the event who turned out to be a huge fan of our anti-flipping concept.
In true BBS spirit, the winner of the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year Old immediately shared the bottle round the room so that everyone could see whether the hype matched reality. Having not been a fan of the 2015 release, I was blown away by the 2016 release – an epic bourbon.
Thank you to everyone who attended this event. Milroy's next tasting (the 1792 range) and Pappy raffle will take place on 18 June 2017! Sadly, it's already sold out.