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Toasting the Founder of the Single-Barrel Bourbon Boom

Toasting the Founder of the Single-Barrel Bourbon Boom
Photograph by Craig F. Walker/Getty Images

The oldest name in American single-barrel bourbon, Blanton’s, turned 30 this summer—and it’s ready for some props from industry peers. The bourbon, which is sold in a round bottle with a metallic horse atop the stopper, was first bottled on Aug. 30, 1984. It was the first bourbon on the market to come entirely from a single barrel.

Blanton’s, named after a former master distiller at the company, Colonel Albert Blanton, hit the market at a time when the liquor was down on its luck, suffering a retail crisis as Americans were discovering a taste for higher-quality wines and vodkas. “It’s what old people drank,” John Shutt, Blanton’s international sales and marketing executive, says of the stereotypes that dogged bourbon in the 1980s. “It’s what poor people drank. It’s what we in Kentucky—us rednecks—drank.”