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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.

NEAT
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.

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

WORDS WORDS WORDS
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)

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