Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ebook Assessment: Warehouse H: The Story of Blanton’s Bourbon

Blanton’s has reached such a degree of saturation within the collective consciousness of bourbon folks that it’s misplaced all which means. Each the identify and the item. Is it a meme, is it collectible, is it overhyped… is it even any good? The solutions are: Sure!

Fortunately, Dominic Guglielmi’s Warehouse H, based mostly on his web site of the identical identify, goes a great distance towards imbuing the model with a way of identification. Whereas it does contact upon the polarization of Blanton’s, it doesn’t mire itself within the superficial cruft incessantly debated over social media. The e-book is a concise and celebratory account of the model’s previous and current with out feeling hagiographic.

Guglielmi has been referred to as “the final word tater.” As he states in his introduction, he “put on[s] that badge with honor.” And so he approaches the subject as a collector initially. There aren’t any tasting notes to be discovered and, in reality, his introduction features a wholesome dose of skepticism towards flowery evaluations, a skepticism I received’t take personally, Dom. Quite, the e-book is sort of utterly centered on two areas: the historical past of Blanton’s and the huge and peculiar world of higher-end Blanton’s amassing.

Little doubt the tales of Colonels Albert B. Blanton and Elmer T. Lee are acquainted to those who dwell and breathe bourbon and its historical past. Guglielmi’s writing of every man and their involvement in what finally grew to become often known as the Buffalo Hint Distillery is much from exhaustive, however it’s breezy and legible. A lot of their private histories as they relate to the creation of Blanton’s and even the distillery itself are hazy at finest, and Guglielmi does effectively to avoid mythos. Quite, the place issues get fascinating and the place I’d argue the guts of the e-book resides is in two males that have been beforehand unknown to me: Ferdie Falk and Robert Baranaskas.

The duo, each alcohol business executives, bought what was then the Historic Age Distillery in 1982 and with it, plant supervisor Elmer T. Lee. Because the story goes, they tasked Lee with creating what was successfully a Maker’s Mark competitor – “a novel bourbon of remarkable high quality that may command a… excessive worth,” as Guglielmi tells it. Whereas the story of Lee selecting “heart minimize honey barrels” to create the primary “mass market” single barrel bourbon is well-trodden, the small print of bringing the product to bear are much less so: the selection of the bottle, the wax, the enduring stopper, the aggro advertising and subsequently the rivalry with Maker’s Mark’s Samuels household. It’s genuinely fascinating, private, and surprisingly humorous stuff.

On the flipside, Guglielmi focuses on the world of Blanton’s amassing, and that is the place the e-book will get definitive. Having amassed one of many world’s more-complete collections of Blanton’s varieties throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s maybe the authority on Blanton’s particular releases, a lot in order that it’s stated Buffalo Hint will refer inquiries concerning the product they will’t reply to Guglielmi. The latter half of the e-book is split into sections based mostly on “sort” of launch and options pictures full with charts itemizing data such because the dump date, a bottle’s supposed market, abv, and so forth. By no means would I’ve anticipated there to exist a 141.9 proof Japan-only barrel decide – and so my “unicorn” record is irreparably altered.

Nick Fancher, a photographer based mostly in Columbus, Ohio, and L.A., supplies the glamor photographs of bottles starting from the exquisitely adorned releases from Paris-based whiskey chain La Maison du Whisky to the absurd 1991 Sterling Silver bottling which Ferdie Falk gave to Invoice Samuels, Jr. of Maker’s Mark following a 1992 tasting competitors. Fancher’s eye for product photographs helps elevate the e-book from enthusiast-lite to espresso desk important, lending tangibility to the geeky marginalia.

A lot like Blanton’s itself, Warehouse H is an amalgam of distinctly American preoccupations – it’s consumeristic, nostalgic, aspirational however, above all, the product of numerous earnest and laborious work. Deliberate or not it succeeds in not solely imbuing the model with a way of function however an image of a forward-thinking identification that neither Falk or Baranaskas bought to see the fruits of. One can solely hope they’d be pleased with the dignity with which their most bold mission was portrayed right here.


Warehouse H: The Story of Blanton’s Bourbon


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