I've enjoyed this release for quite some time (much more than it's equal-rarity-counterpart Sweet Wheat). This is now my 2nd bottle I've opened, which I've had probably 4 glasses out of thus far. I waited til now so I wouldn't have reviewed a highly oxidized bottle like my previous one was. Twelve Year is harder to get than most of the other shelfer options, but if you go looking it's not impossible. I seem to see these anywhere from 80 to 100 bucks around Mass at certain times of the year now.
The Barton 1792 distillery has a long and interesting history that is not often talked about for whatever reason. They seem to just silently keep plugging (or chugging?) away at making a ton of great whiskey these days, even offering that as their explanation for why they stopped doing facility tours in June of 2022.
Barton 1792 Distillery was established in 1879 and continues today as the oldest fully-operating Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Situated in heart of bourbon country on 196 acres, the Distillery boasts 29 barrel aging warehouses, 22 other buildings including an impressive still house, and the legendary Tom Moore Spring. Barton 1792 Distillery is named in honor of the year Kentucky joined the United States.
The brand website also describes the some of the background of this release:
Twelve years is a long time to wait, but patience has its rewards. Starting with our signature "high rye" recipe, this impeccable bourbon whiskey is the satisfying result of maturing for more than a decade in the finest charred American white oak barrels.
This one is usually solid for me. Let's see how it tastes today!
Company on Label: Barton 1792 Distillery
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed (but assumed to be 74-75% Corn, 15-18% Rye, and 8-10% Malted Barley)
Age: 12 years
Further identification: This one of the rarer releases of the flagship line from the 1792 series; it features the light gray neck tag and the distinct gold 'UFO' topper
Nose: Right away there are tingles of caramel, cherry skins and bright, sugary laffy taffy tones. The glass is loaded with butterscotch, gingerbread cookie and crème brûlée. It's balanced, approachable and steeped with bakery tones that bring comfort on every inhale. Distinct age comes across rich and decadent in the quality of the caramel with a strong but not overpowering leather and oak backbone. Let's jump into a sip.
Returning to the nose I find the sweetness is joined by plenty of floral tones now. Cedar shakes, black pepper, corn fritters and cherry-soaked Spring florals all jive incredibly well. Everything is subtle, nuanced, bountiful, yet somehow balanced. Bravo to the blending team on this one. Hints of earthy iron embolden a well layered experience. The empty glass smells of soft honey and jasmine flower petals.
Palate: My first sip is cherry forward - skins, juice, pit and all. The mouth feel is tingling as angostura bitters, chamomile tea and candied plum undulate to and fro. Each sip is distinctly soft yet flavorful with prevalent stone fruit jiving up front before lemon frosting and other soft creamy treats smooth over the taste buds. There's an inherent elegance to the creamy mouth feel reminiscent of a decadent mouthful of dessert being savored. Vanilla icing like you'd find drizzled over a warm cinnamon bun coats the tongue. Another sip and swish produces more of the bread tones that were lying deeper in the glass before. Ciabatta bread comes across with tiny inklings of rosemary, sage and thyme that never quite materialize fully. Later in the glass things return to the sweet and complete cherry experience. There are a lot of whiskeys that produce cherry notes, but none as well rounded as this. The consistent deliciousness of this experience of biting into a fresh cherry is quite impressive. On larger sips just a hint of cinnamon can be found in the slightly tannic delivery. This one doesn't have infinite depth, but just the right amount for an approachable but fun-to-explore pour. My last sip is distinctly sweet with the obvious cherry we started with, plum, slightly minty blackberry and a creamy tiramisu mouth coating. The linger is medium to short with all the sweets sticking in the corners of my mouth.
This is just solid bourbon. This pour doesn't try to do anything too flashy or unique, but instead leans in on a traditional profile with magical completeness in the ways it nuances distinctly recognizable flavors and aromas. This is one of those bottles that always seems to tantalize you into having another glass. I won't be without one of these on my shelf. Cheers!