1792 SWEET WHEAT
MASH BILL – Undisclosed mash of corn, wheat, and barley
PROOF – 91.2
AGE – NAS (press release states ~8 Years)
DISTILLERY – Barton 1792 Distillery
PRICE – $38
BUY AGAIN? – Yes
1792 Sweet Wheat is among the minor unicorns. Its annual release is not as limited as some. But what there is goes pretty quickly. I managed to come across a bottle at a good price and picked it up, ever on the lookout for affordable wheated bourbons. Here are some notes, taken about a quarter of the way into the bottle:
COLOR – a wheat field tinted orange by sunset light
NOSE – soft wheat bread, lightly floral, a dusting of robust baking spices, a bit of cream, some baked apple and apricot, candy store caramels
TASTE – darker wheat bread, creamy texture, mild salty caramel, a fine and tingly spiciness, oaky tannins at the end
FINISH – sweet oaky tannins linger most, some faint salty caramel leaving a soft warmth
OVERALL – a more refined take on a bready/woody flavor profile I more readily associated with rougher craft bourbons
I find this immediately enjoyable. It’s also easy to forget. That might sound pejorative out of the gate, but I don’t at all mean it to be. For such an oaky bourbon, it’s quite gentle. The tannins add a dryness to the sweet flavors without drying the experience out. There is nothing remarkable about it, making it an easy, somewhat rustic sipper, undemanding of one’s attention.
I thought immediately of the Old Monroe Single Barrel Select, a craft wheater from Stumpy’s Spirits, which I’d recently tasted. The 1792 Sweet Wheat offers a similar but softer profile. Curious, I poured a glass of Old Monroe:
COLOR – a rich burnt orange
NOSE – fragrant rustic wheat, dry floral notes, mild creaminess, a faint waft of caramel
TASTE – young oak, a bit of thick pine wood, caramels, robust crusty wheat bread with walnuts
FINISH – crusty walnut bread, thickly cut sweet caramel
OVERALL – this is a local bakery’s fresh crusty wheat bread to 1792’s high quality store-bought sliced wheat bread
Trying the 1792 Sweet Wheat next to the Old Monroe helped me appreciate the Old Monroe even more since my recent tasting of it. The local bakery versus store-bought bread comparison is clear between them. Both are good quality breads. The robust crustiness of the Old Monroe is in chewy contrast to the softer, smoother sliced breadiness of the 1792. The 1792 offers up its sweeter side more readily, whereas the Old Monroe is encased in its rustic bread aspects.
These bourbons make a wonderful comparison—variations on a theme that show one another off and help me appreciate the particularities of each. I’m struck by how the experience of each is actually improved when compared next to the other.
Coincidentally, these are priced the same despite one being from a small, young craft distillery and the other from a large, well established operation. Old Monroe has very limited distribution and is actually harder to come by. The 1792 is released nationally, with more marketing behind it, but in limited quantities. Both are worth looking for. And, based on this tasting, I’d say both benefit from a comparison. They’re almost like siblings raised in separate parts of the country, offering insight into the variations of genetics.
This experience leaves me curious to pair other bourbons similar in profile, but differing in craft versus mainstream maker. Small versus large scales of operation, and the discrepancy of experience between new and longstanding distilleries, each must have their benefits and drawbacks. Such comparisons might make a productive means of considering how the scale of production impacts the nature of a product, in combination with the benefits of experience versus fresh eyes.
In any case, if you enjoy rustic breads and fragrant wood, pick up either or both of these entries into the growing range of wheated bourbon offerings. Whether either becomes a mainstay on your shelf, each are very worth considering at least once along a bourbon journey.