...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, May 6, 2019

1792 Full Proof bourbon (2016 bottling)

Rarely do I get a thrill from obtaining a bottle of bourbon, but I'll admit there was some excitement when I got today's whiskey. It had gotten boisterous reviews from industry and independent reviewers, and as a result was difficult to find. It took some hijinks on my part to get this 1792 Full Proof bourbon, which (I think) is from its rookie year of 2016.

I opened the bottled exactly two months ago. And HATED it. Yes, hate is a strong word. Even stronger when it's in ALL CAPS. But all I could taste was burning bitter ash. I fought with the stuff and brought it to two events to see if anyone else liked it, yet two months later it was still two-thirds full and had caused no one to say "Wow!", or even "Mmmmm".

Before this tasting, I hadn't touched this bottle in a month. But I knew the bourbon was going to require a multistep tasting procedure.

Distillery: Barton 1792 Distillery
Ownership: Sazerac Company
Region: Bardstown, Kentucky
Type: Straight Bourbon
Age: minimum 2 years (no matter what the company says, there's no age statement on the bottle)
Mashbill: I've seen 75/10/15 and 75/15/10 Corn/Rye/Barley. Could be either, could be neither.
Maturation: charred white oak barrels
Bottle code: K16 123
Alcohol by Volume: 62.5%

BIG NOTE HERE. I let this whiskey sit in the glass 30 minutes before approaching. I also let the dilution mingle for over an hour.

Nose - Burning. Then Barbasol shaving cream, dried apricots, lemons, generic vanilla, cinnamon and Bit o' Honey candy. Yet it's all very quiet. After 45 minutes some louder orange candy and citronella notes appear.
Palate - Yes, burning, though not as violent as it was at the top of the bottle. Black pepper, barrel char, Red Hot candies, sweetened hot sauce and simple syrup. After 45 minutes that orange candy note shows up here too.
Finish - Heat, sugar, bitter oak and orange peel.

DILUTED to 46.8%abv (1792 Small Batch strength)
Nose - Louder and more expressive than the neat nose. There's sawdust, ash, raisins, dried cranberries, cherry jam, clementines and a richer vanilla note.
Palate - Hot barrel char, even at this strength. Very sweet. Cherry syrup, dried cherries, brown roasted corn and cracked black peppercorns. Even though there's a subtle orange juice note, the tanginess reads more like vinegar than citrus.
Finish - Hot sweet tangy barrel char. Ash-infused cherry syrup.

Almost like mulled wine, loaded with baking spices and fruit.

While it's better at full strength than I'd remembered, it had a long time to open up, longer than any casual drinker would give it. And it's still not far from mediocre even then. Improvements materialize once the whiskey is diluted to Small Batch strength. It's not great bourbon, but it has texture, character and the occasional pleasant fruit note. The relentless generic barrel char note is reminiscent of present-day Ancient Age. Which is bad. Once the whisky mingles with Angostura bitters, a slice of cara cara orange and a Luxardo cherry, everything looks brighter.

I can tell you from experience, this stuff will get you tipsy, but so will plastic bottle vodka (also from experience). This is better than plastic bottle vodka, and its kissing cousin, Ancient Age. But 1792 Full Proof was not worth the hunt.

Availability - well, NOW it's everywhere
Pricing - $40-$80
Rating - 76 (and it takes a lot to get there)


  1. Hi, Michael. I enjoy your blog and especially your Youtube reviews. I haven't had this one but one of the first bourbons I ever bought was the standard 1792 - they had them for $20 at Costco and I figured I could always demote it to cooking duty at that price. I still have about a third of that bottle - it's neither amazing nor bad. I have to wonder 2 things: 1. could your bottle be part of a bum batch? (taster was drunk, sabotage, Russian meddling, whatevers ;) 2. I also noticed that you don't like certain particular profiles (Woodford, Forester, etc.) - so I wonder if there's a certain flavor that your brain just rejects? Nothing wrong with that - likely we all have these. I wouldn't extol Woodford or anything else I'm going to mention but I also find them to be ok. I.e. Ancient Age - ok for bottom shelf (I prefer Benchmark 8, though). Yesterday I sampled Ancient Ancient Age 10 star (45%) - and enjoyed it. And I also liked Early Times (used cooperage bourbon-mash whiskey) - found it to have a roasted peanut flavor. Anyway, that's not the point. Just thinking out loud. I've also had a few single malts that I really detested at first, which later became my favorites. Thank you for the reviews, malt mate :)

    1. It's true we all have different palates. That's why I try to never make "recommended purchase" announcements. We each have to find a group of reviewers whose palates match our own before we leap out for a purchase. I find the regular 1792 to be decent stuff and have had two single barrel 1792s that were really good, and have bought them as gifts for family. Relatedly, I will try to give Old Forester another try next year. I tend to find Brown Forman's products to be grim, but I'm interested in what they've been doing with Old Forester.