Bonded and Single Barrel
I've had the chance to try a number of bonded or single barrel bourbons lately. They include Henry McKenna 10 year Single Barrel (BIB), a 90's bonded VOB (rather different from the current 100 proof, not as old I think), a couple of Blantons, also JD Silver Select which in effect is a kind of bonded whiskey. I am coming around to the idea of the superiority of these over batched bourbon. There is a purity about the taste that clearly comes from the season's production or of course the single barrel where used. While I am a dedicated believer in blending and vatting, I also admire the singular nature of bonded whiskey. Sure, some of it may not be that good but the less good stuff is rare (on the retail market I mean) because it will end up being vatted or batched. Vatting has a role but it is not easy to do it right. The current Rare Breed is very good and other bourbons of course get it right but the classic simplicity of a good bonded is hard to beat. It is not that I ever doubted this, but I tended to think in the past the concept of bonded whiskey was (as it evolved) mostly a marketing thing but now I think it still retains inherent value. I don't mean the actual designation, but the fact that bourbon comes in some cases from one season's production or a single barrel (often the case even where the whiskey is not technically bonded). Really these whiskeys approach in concept the Scots idea of a single malt and in many ways are more singular since single malts can be combinations of different years' production from the one distillery.
I have really been enjoying my J. W. Dant BIB. Cheap but good, and I do see what you mean about purity of expression.