Why Is Blanton's Bourbon So Difficult To Find?

Good bourbon whiskey is smooth, sweet, and oh-so-sippable. If you're lucky, it might come in a classy hand-labeled bottle, and there's even a chance you'll profit if you buy it now and sell it later. This is why bourbon collectors get wide-eyed at the mention of Blanton's Single Barrel. The trouble is, it's more than a little tricky to find, but chasing this golden unicorn only adds to the drink's mystique.

When it comes to taste, Blanton's Single Barrel is up there. In other words, it would be sacrilegious to pour coke into it. No, this is a bourbon for drinking straight or on the rocks, ideally on a porch at sunset. It's crafted to go down easy, with creamy notes of honey, vanilla, oak, and crisp red apple (via Whisky Base). When Kentucky's Buffalo Trace Distillery launched it in 1984, no one else was offering a single-barrel bourbon, which simply means that every bottle comes from its own cask rather than blended in larger batches. Blanton's, according to its website, uses flavor-enhancing charred oak barrels, where the whiskey is left to age for at least eight years. Plus, every single whiskey sold is selected, bottled, and even labeled by hand. 

And to add to the hunt, there is a total of eight of those collectible jockey and horse bottle stoppers to find. But surely Blanton's wants to sell as much of their product as possible, right? So why is this bourbon so hard to get a hold of?

Here's why Blanton's is so elusive

Rumors of Blanton's Single Barrel showing up in a store can create feverish lines outside overnight. One of the biggest reasons for the gap in supply meeting demand is, as Liquor Laboratory points out, it takes years to age. The recent whiskey boom surprised even those in the industry, and Buffalo Trace couldn't respond at the speed, say, a candy bar maker could. Plus, as Wine Mag points out, there is the allocation issue, where distributors decide which stores will be supplied. These companies will designate a certain amount of their product for high-dollar markets like Japan and, for ease of distribution, tend to favor chains over smaller liquor stores.

For some, the thrill of the chase can add to the product's appeal, but many would sooner order it. Another possible reason boutique liquors have been hard to get ahold of, according to Whisky Advocate is that until 2021, U.S. liquor laws prevented sellers of hard liquors access to a direct-to-consumer sales model. The new law means that Kentucky distilleries can now ship their product to 10 reciprocal states (Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.), but not to other places. As of yet, Blanton's has many things for sale in its online store, but not bottles of Single Barrel Bourbon. However, other online retailers are happy to hunt it down and sell it to you at a premium. 

Here's how to find Blanton's Bourbon

If you don't happen to live in either Kentucky or a reciprocal state, there are other options for getting your hands on a bottle of Blanton's. Uproxx suggests various strategies — for instance, you could keep your eye on online alcohol stores like Drizly, or try internet resellers — again, marked up at a premium. You can also visit the distillery in Kentucky, but check the website in advance to ensure it's in the store. If you're really committed, you could find an airport selling it duty-free, reserve a bottle in advance, and hop on a flight.

Failing those tricks, Uproxx suggests an old-fashioned neighborly approach — find a liquor store near you that stocks it, make friends with the manager, then ask for a bottle to be set aside when it comes in. You never know, you might get lucky. 'Till then, happy hunting.