1792 FULL PROOF
Barrel No. 2111 picked by K&L (2018)
MASH BILL – Unstated (rumored 74% corn, 18% rye, 8% barley)
PROOF – 125
AGE – NAS
DISTILLERY – Barton 1792 Distillery
PRICE – $54
BUY AGAIN? – Can’t! But future 1792 Full Proof picks, if the price remains ~$50, sure.
My first experience with the 1792 line was a single barrel store pick that tasted distinctly soapy to me. I tried and tried with it, and toward that bottle’s end I began to come around to it a bit more. But it was not an experience that set me off on an eager exploration of the full range of 1792 products.
Then a bottle of the 1792 Sweet Wheat made a very different impression. It was immediately enjoyable. However it was also easy to forget. There was something unremarkable about it, yet very pleasing to drink. It did not demand attention. Rather, it quietly accompanied whatever I was doing. Horatio to my Hamlet.
More recently, a vintage age stated 1792 Ridgemont Reserve offered a more tart variation on what was becoming for me a familiar Barton 1792 floral bouquet of aromas and flavors. A bottle of the 100-proof bottom shelfer, Very Old Barton, rendered that floral rye bouquet brightly and with panache, demonstrating that Barton doesn’t at all skimp on quality in their lower end products. And over this past year I’ve encountered several Barton-sourced bourbons also highlighting the Barton bouquet, like the excellent Lucky Seven “Hold Up.” Another Barton-sourced secondary bottling, Sam Houston, on the other hand, came across more like an MGP-sourced bourbon, less floral and more centered on wood and caramel notes.
All of this prompted me to finally dig out from the back of the bunker this 2018 Full Proof store pick from K&L.
Nobody can be certain how much water is added to the bourbon, and we don’t know how old it is. But we know from the term “Full Proof” that after aging it is then watered back down to its original entry proof for bottling. The dark color of the bourbon comes from its years in the barrel in combination with its relatively undiluted state. And as a store pick it’s a single barrel release, offering the idiosyncrasies of the given barrel, rather than a carefully crafted blend.
So what does it taste like? Here are some notes taken four weeks after uncorking and some handful of pours into the bottle, tasted in a traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – a classic bourbon orange, rich like a harvest moon, with dark cherry reds in the mix
NOSE – rye florals, granite, organic peanut and almond butter, a deep layer of caramel underneath, some cinnamon, a faint whiff of cherry
TASTE – a lively spiciness from the proof alongside a wood spiciness, a wonderful syrupy texture, the rye and wood spices blend together, the caramel seems to coat the cherry aspect
FINISH – a gentle but palpable bite lingering from the proof, the caramel shows up front but soon fades, the rye florals and nut butters mingle and continue to linger faintly, and the heat eventually lowers to a minty coolness…
OVERALL – a strong, dark outing of the 1792 flavor profile; it feels like it leans forward into me slowly, but then backs off a little faster than I’d like in the finish
This is a far cry from that soapy introduction a few years back. Though it shares the 1792 Sweet Wheat’s unsatisfying finish, the color, nose and taste are all enticing and rewarding. The darker aspects conjure fun sense memories of the Halloween season—its colors and aromas. And the combined wood and proof spiciness is lively. It’s a shame it all then leaves the party so soon in the finish.
The variety of 1792 experiences I’ve had of late, both sourced and released directly from Barton, have helped me to appreciate the incredible range of this high-rye bourbon line. It can be light and flowery like grandma’s parlor. It can also be dark and pungent like a harvest-moonlit night’s walk through a corn field. And as I sip on it further while writing up these notes, new nuances emerge from the nose and taste. The finish continues its habit of ending sooner than I’d like. But quantity does seem to help it linger a bit longer. 😉
For the price it’s not something I’d generally want to devote to mixing, though I have no doubt it would contribute well to a variety of cocktails. As a straight sipper it’s perfectly good, even great in some respects. I especially love how the texture interacts with the cherry-tinted caramel aspects. And those wonderful organic nut butter notes ground the experience for me.
This particular store pick is long since sold out. But if you’re curious to try a bourbon with a strong burst of fiery rye florals, grounded in autumnal caramels, I recommend the 1792 Full Proof.