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Life’s Simple Pleasures

I can hardly remember what it was like when I was tied to Corporate America.  Well, that is not exactly true….  I remember it all too well but these days it seems like it was somebody else grinding it out in a suit and tie every day. These days I do several different things but the main one involves a bulldozer and my brother.  One of the favorite things we do during the course of the day is “Social Hour”.

The unique stopper on the Blanton's bottle.

The unique stopper on the Blanton's bottle.

It all started at a job  a few years ago close to Weatherford, TX. The property owner loved to hang out and talk and drink a little bit so at the end of the day we would gather at the RV Basecamp and sit in the shade for an hour or so before supper. We swapped stories and drank some of our favorite beverage. We started that job in late summer and the favorite beverage was an ice cold longneck beer. As the weather changed and it got cooler we switched to bourbon whiskey. By that time of year the days were shorter and it was getting dark earlier so a good fire was added to the Social Hour furnishings. Pretty good stuff you know? A crisp evening with a good fire to ward off the chill, some good bourbon whiskey to warm you on the inside, maybe a good cigar and guy talk around the circle.

I have always loved my bourbon whiskey – Jim Beam White Label does me just fine. Whether straight or with a little 7 Up, I usually have a toddy or maybe even two after 9pm every night. The property owner at Weatherford, Doc Jim, had him some money but he didn’t flaunt it — not really. He is the same old boy we shamed so bad that he traded his King Ranch Ford for a GMC.  When it started to get into the whiskey weather Doc Jim would bring a bottle of the good stuff with him and he favored Woodford Reserve.  It comes in a wooden box and it is pretty fancy stuff.  I would just set the bottle of Jim Beam on the table and when you got dry, you just poured you another one.  Doc Jim sorta stingied that Woodford Reserve out.  He kept it close and when he saw your glass getting empty he would ask if you wanted some more but he kept a tight hold on the bottle and just splashed a wee bit in the bottom for you.  Regardless, once we got him in that GMC, he was a helluva guy.

Somewhere along the way,  I came up with an empty bottle of that Woodford Reserve complete with the pretentious wooden box. Lord knows how I got it away from Doc Jim but I did.   Being the thrifty soul that I am I just filled it up with my buddy Jim Beam and set it back on the shelf in the Old Girl for future action.  That bottle has been refilled many times to date.  It holds a special place when my brother and I have high roller visitors for Social Hour.  He will give me sort of a sideways, crooked look and say ” You got any of that good whiskey left?”  Out comes the bottle of pseudo Woodfords and it always gets great comments. “Wow, that is smooth!” or  “That is good whiskey!”  You know, stuff like that.  I guess it just shows that sometimes when you put lipstick on a pig, it isn’t a pig any more.

Now just to prove we are not crass, ignorant, duplicitous rednecks; we did acquire an appreciation for really fine Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey along the way. I was in a big city liquor store one day picking up supplies and I noticed the oddest whiskey bottle on the shelf I had ever seen. It had a racehorse stopper on top of a gorgeous bottle. At almost $50 American money and I wasn’t about to take a chance on it just because it came in a ‘purty’ bottle. So I went back to the Fish Bus and called on my friend, Mr. Internet, for some more info and here is what I found out about Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey:

Blantons Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Blantons Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

From the Blanton’s web site—

Blanton’s Original
* Type: Bourbon Whiskey
* Recipe: Corn – Rye – Malted Barley
* Mash Type: Sour
* Still Proof: 70% Alcohol by Volume – 140 proof
* Entry Proof: 62.5% Alcohol by Volume – 125 proof
* Warehouse: H
* Barrel Type: White Oak
* Maker: Independent Stave
* Staves: 6 month air dry
* Treatment: #4 Char
* Filtration: Chill Filtered
* Bottle Proof: 46.5% Alcohol by Volume – 93 proof

________________________________________

Tasting Notes: A reddish amber color.

Nose: A spicy aroma of Dried Citrus and Orange Peels with a hint of Caramel and Vanilla.

Palate Entry: Full and soft, marked by a mix of Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Orange, and Cloves.

Finish: Muted but well balanced with Vanilla, Honey, and Citrus.
________________________________________
Best Served: Straight, on ice, or used in a premium cocktail.

Hmm, OK. I don’t know about nose or palate entry. I don’t know if I even like those terms. So I searched for reviews…

When searching out the best, always go back to where it all started. Blanton’s was the first American whiskey to be made in small batches and bottled from a single barrel – these guys set the standard for what qualifies as great bourbon. It’s aged entirely in one barrel and never blended. A spicy aroma of dried citrus caramel and vanilla gets this going out of the shoot, with a burst of burnt sugar, honey, orange zest, and cloves on the home stretch. The trademark thoroughbred closure separates this bourbon from the pack and hints to its most obvious cocktail application – the Mint Julep.

Or

You’ll know it by the little horse and rider on the stopper and the grenade-shaped bottle. At $45 a bottle, you’ll often find this in the lockup at your local liquor store.

As bourbons go, it’s unique: All bottles are single-barrel bottlings, which means that a glass will vary from state to state and store to store. Aside from several bottlings created for duty-free markets alone, there is only the “original” single barrel bottling. Hence the price.

How’s it taste? Quite good. An odd 93 proof, the bourbon goes down smoother than you’d think when served neat, but a splash of water brings out the honey, caramel, and burnt sugar notes to an even more obvious level. I’d be fine using Blanton’s as a sipping whiskey or in a mostly-whiskey cocktail like a Manhattan. Just avoid blending it too much with strong aromatics or liqueurs or you’ll lose the delicate character.

There’s not a lot of nuance in Blanton’s, surprising for a single-barrel whiskey, but it’s otherwise a fine whiskey that easily earns its notoriety.

So I went a got me some . I test drove it and found out it definitely goes better with a single cube of ice because it is pretty ‘hot’. Let me tell you right now that this is good stuff folks. It drinks down SO smooth and then explodes in your belly. Fine, fine, fine drinking especially if you pair it up with a stout Cuban cigar. It just doesn’t get any better. So does that make me some sort of effete snob? — not hardly! So am I enjoying life? You Betcha! – in a Sara Palin voice.

Guess what happened the next time my brother said ” You got any of that good stuff left?” ? Wrong! I broke out the fake Woodfords! I save the honest to God good stuff for me and him and a select few. And another confession; With the Blantons, I am guilty of ‘stingying’ it out. You don’t want to waste a single drop!

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1 comment to Life’s Simple Pleasures

  • Derek

    Do you guys know if there is a place to trade the Blantons bottle stoppers, to be able to fill out ones collection?

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