1792 RIDGEMONT RESERVE
discontinued 8 year age stated bottling (likely from 2008)
MASH BILL – Undisclosed (rumored 74% corn, 18% rye, 8% barley)
PROOF – 93.7
AGE – 8 years
DISTILLERY – Barton Distilling Company
PRICE – $36
BUY AGAIN? – Already did! If I find another I’ll leave it for someone else.
Something I’ve retained from before the Stay-at-Home era is my habit of going on long “dusty walks,” taking my time walking across the city and stopping into random corner stores to see what oddities might be found. Recently I popped in to a fairly nondescript corner market on Geary Street, in the Richmond District of San Francisco, and spotted an older bottle of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve perched high up on a corner shelf. There were two bottles. I pulled one down, turned it around, and lo and behold it had the 8-year age statement, discontinued in 2013. I checked the laser code and it seemed the bottle might actually be from 2008.
The 1792 line was first released in 2002 with the subtitle “Ridgewood Reserve.” The people over at Brown-Forman didn’t like that, believing it too like their Woodford Reserve line, and got legal. So in 2004 Barton changed “Ridgewood” to “Ridgemont” and carried on. The age statement remained until 2013, when it was dropped along with “Ridgemont Reserve,” itself replaced with “Small Batch.” The bottle’s nice burlap neck covering was also replaced with sticker labels in different colors to go with the line’s expansion into other variants—Sweet Wheat, High Rye, Bottled in Bond, Full Proof, Single Barrel, Port Finished, and the 12 Year.
My own first experience with the 1792 line was a 2017 Single Barrel store pick from Save More Sam’s in San Francisco. At first I found it floral in a soapy, perfumed body-lotion kind of way—not appealing. As the bottle aired out, the soapy aspects abated and I began to appreciate its soft, floral character. It tasted sweetly old fashioned, like Grandma’s parlor. But it wasn’t top of my list.
A 2017 Full Proof store pick from Bourbon County and Fred’s Liquors followed. This impressed me with its smoky vanilla, a sweet breadiness, and those old fashioned floral notes now balanced with gooey butterscotch. The kick from the 125 proof seemed to lift the flavors with more distinction. This bottle brought me back around to the possibilities of 1792.
And so here we are now with this blast from the past, a true “dusty” from 2008. Though the cork appears to be very much in tact, there are bits of something floating about in the bourbon. Tasting it at uncorking, I did suspect there may be some cork taint at work. But I cannot tell if the sharper qualities of the aroma and flavor are that, or simply the nature of the whiskey. They aren’t offensive, in any case, just attention grabbing.
Here are some notes in brief, taken in a simple brandy glass just a few days after uncorking and a few pours into the bottle:
COLOR – rich sunset orange
NOSE – crisp and dry, maple syrup on fresh pancakes, dusty oak, caramel, butterscotch candies, some dried grassy rye spice
TASTE – a crisp dry shell of candied tropical fruits around a smooth core of butterscotch and caramel, some bright wood tannins, and a nice tingly pepperiness
FINISH – the candied tropical fruits, some astringency from the wood tannins (or cork taint?), floral rye spices, butterscotch, and now also some melted butter with a dusting of baking spices
OVERALL – a lively contradiction of edgy and rounded flavors, at once velvety and crisp
Despite the astringent edges, I dig it. I’ve already returned to that corner store to pick up the second bottle. How often will I come across this old feller, after all?
As I write these notes and it continues to air out in the glass, the crisp astringencies soften, leaving a thin edge like an outline around the lovely old-fashioned butterscotch and caramel notes. As with that 2017 store pick from Save More Sam’s, Grandma’s parlor is conjured here too. Only this time Grandma isn’t taking any guff. She’s welcoming and sweet, but with a keen glint in her eye. Don’t assume you’ll beat her at a game of poker.
I don’t believe this old bottle will set me off on a hunt for more. The two I now have will do me fine. I’ll leave any others I come across for other bourbon fans to find. I’m certainly appreciative of what it offers—that interesting dichotomy of edge and softness. But the 1792 line’s particular high-rye floral qualities, and that edge that tempts astringency, aren’t quite centered enough in my flavor profile range to make it a regular buy for me.
Now, the 1792 Sweet Wheat is another story. And what this dusty old age-stated bottle does do is stoke my interest to try other variants in the 1792 line up as well.