It's another overdue review for a Barton shelfer that many have come to love. I have access to a lot of interesting single barrel versions of this release in Massachusetts, but I will be tasting the shelfer, non-store-pick version here.
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 lore of the Full Proof release:
Bourbon insiders have long acknowledged that full proof bourbon has a distinguished and rich flavor. This bourbon underwent a distinct filtering process,forgoing the typical chill filtration and passing only through a plate and frame filter. This allowed the bourbon to maintain a robust proof for bottling, as well as a full, rich and bold flavor. Bottled at its original 125 barrel entry proof, just as it was years ago when the barrels were first filled, 1792 Full Proof Bourbon is exceptionally distinct.
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: NAS (minimum of 4 years, likely somewhere around )
Further identification: This is part of the flagship line from the 1792 series; it features the black neck tag and the distinct gold 'UFO' topper
Nose: Caramel jumps out first and foremost - a foreboding simplicity that certainly isn't off-putting. Aromas of raisin, milk chocolate, walnut and a commanding spice level tickle the nose. Smokiness fills the glass after a swirl, covering up a funky smell that I can only relate to the faint aroma of socks that spent a long day in a hiking boot. Faint fruit comes across sugary, like the nearly nonexistent smell of a red starburst candy. As I ponder about how strange this experience has been so far, I decide to take a sip.
Returning to the glass after a sip shows that there is just too much proof on 'full proof'. Deep licorice pops up between more volume on the smoky characteristics. A faint burning plastic aroma that I've found on some scotches layers in as well now. Overall its bright, but in a funky spice kind of way. The hallmarks here are the clove, allspice and everything bagel seasoning. Deep inhales mix the plastic tones found earlier with the smell of dry clay and playdough. Chocolate sings a pretty note in the near empty glass. The glass smells of sheets on the clothesline and a lemon-laden hot toddy made with chamomile tea once empty. The whiskey fades slowly off into creamy obscurity.
Palate: My first sip is vaguely sweet, but a few seconds after a sip I feel my insides turn to flowing magma. I find subtleties of lemon peel, earthy tea, allspice, and mint. Deep astringency ties itself to the flavor of clove. Plum and blackberry want to break through but are sufficiently suppressed by the heavy volume of charred oak here. This whiskey feels similar to a double oaked release for whatever reason. Hints of dry banana peel taunt the tongue. I'm continuously reminded that this drinks hot as I struggle through the experience that I think is best described in the single word: 'rushed'. Banana flavors continue to build near the bottom of the glass as molasses, brown butter and cacao powder drastically improve the trajectory of this pour. Mm - as I finish my last sip I am suddenly surprised by a really delicious mouth coating of creamy tiramisu that was made with a heavy hand on the cocoa powder topping.
The end of the glass & the chocolatey notes it produced are definitely the saving grace of this pour, which otherwise was lackluster at best and a borderline mess at worst. I almost didn't drop the score to a 2 despite the two notes I really didn't like on the nose (licorice and burning plastic), as everything on the palate is okay... but ultimately the astringency and ever-apparent proof really push this into a category I don't really enjoy. It's a shame to discover this release just doesn't land right with me because I've been thoroughly enjoying some of the other 1792 shelfer releases as of late!
As a bonus I shared a pour of this with my father who found some quite humorous notes I'll share below.
Rick's notes / quotes:
"This must be proofy."
This is oily... I can't quite place the taste, but it's definitely different to anything I've ever had. Not different good... Not different bad... Just different.
It's copper forward... It's like freshly soldered copper - loaded with lead.
It's combative at the start, but it's open to negotiations with your senses.
I really just don't like the oily characteristic. It's oily and metallic; it's like licking the Tin Man's armpit after Dorothy has just finished oiling it up.
What a gem! Cheers!