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In today’s climate, a new premium bourbon label seems to be born every day. However, the bourbon business was not always so popular. In fact, the 1980s are generally considered one of the worst periods for American whiskey, when many distilleries were shuttered and brands consolidated to a few large distillers. So, launching a premium bourbon brand at that time would seem downright insane. But, that’s exactly what Elmer T. Lee did when he released Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon in 1984.
At the time, Elmer was the master distiller at Buffalo Trace distillery, which was then known as George T. Stagg Distillery. Elmer released Blanton’s in honor of Colonel Albert B. Blanton, a previous master distiller. For the bourbon stock, Elmer selected barrels aged in Buffalo Trace’s only metal-clad warehouse, which is known as Warehouse H.
Blanton’s bourbon is sourced from the higher-rye mash bill made at Buffalo Trace, which is known as mash bill number two. Buffalo Trace doesn’t disclose exact mash bill proportions, but mash bill number two is thought to be about 15% rye grain. Other popular brands that use mash bill number two are Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, Ancient Age, and Rock Hill Farms Single Barrel. If you’re interested in some bourbon history, there is an interesting relationship between Buffalo Trace and the brands that are made from mash bill number two that is worth reading about.