Barton Brands Distillery, owned by Sazerac (the same folks that own Buffalo Trace), has produced 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon for almost a decade or so now. This bourbon is called “barrel select”, which essentially means it is a small batch bourbon. The master distiller selects barrels that he deems “ready” for batching together with other barrels and then bottles these “batches” separately. The minimum age of each barrel in 1792 (the year KY became the 15th state) is 8 years. That’s a fair bit of age, and what some believe to be a real sweet spot for most bourbons. Of course that’s extremely subjective.
With so many fantastic American Whiskeys under the Sazerac umbrella, I am interested in seeing how this one stacks up. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down and had a pour of 1792.
Color: Deep Amber/Copper
Nose: Firm rye spice really elbows its way through at first with undercurrents of ripe fruit (Red Apple, Banana, Orange rind) and soft caramel eventually revealing themselves. There’s a ton of dried oak throughout. This is rye forward bourbon for sure and really shines after a good bit of air time. I find this common with many high rye mashbills (Old Grand-Dad Bottled in Bond comes to mind).
Palate: Much like the nose, the rye asserts itself immediately. It’s prickly, peppery, and very dry with mint, licorice, cinnamon and again loads of dried wood flavors. It’s certainly a bit of an oak monster with some astringency and a thin quality on the palate. Some maple sugars and faint fruit flavors (apple, dried apricot, golden raisin) take time to come through.
Finish: Bright and sharp with ample cinnamon warmth (big red chewing gum). The rye and oaky dryness again dominate. Moderate in length
Overall: There are some things to really like with this whiskey, but unfortunately some misses as well. Firstly it is not cloyingly sweet in the least, and might appeal to folks that don’t have a big sweet tooth. It also has a bracing nose backed with fruit and subtle sweetness that I felt was quite good. However, I enjoyed sniffing this one more than sipping it. That mentioned dryness overpowers and dominates the richer, sweeter undertones. Those flavors simply can’t get enough traction on the sip. With a bit of air time and a splash of water, things open up considerably, but it’s still unbalanced.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 7.9 (Good)