Calumet Farm releases honor historic racing horses as part of their shtick. This particular release is named after Citation, a horse trained by Ben A. Jones and jockeyed by Eddie Arcaro. This horse rose to fame in 1947. Calumet further describes the history of the horse, saying:
After a stunning 2-year-old season in 1947, famed trainer Ben Jones knew that their horse was set to have a breakout 3-year old season. In 1948, Citation furthered his campaign toward becoming a legend. He began the season with a handful of wins. Then Eddie Arcaro was tapped to jockey Citation. The first race pairing the two was a disappointing loss at the Chesapeake Trail Stakes. This would be the last race that Citation would lose for nearly two years.
Citation would go on to capture the 1948 Triple Crown and be named Horse of the Year. By the end of his 3-year old season, he had a total record of 27 victories and two 2nd place finishes out of 29 starts. Citation would go on winning and be the first major North American horse to amass a 16 race win streak and to top $1 million in career earnings.
To honor the legacy of Calumet Farm and its second Triple Crown winning horse, this exquisite bourbon has been crafted with the same passion and dedication that led Citation to victory.
Many consumers jump at age statements. This release carries a pretty massive one considering it has 19 barrels that all either meet or exceed 16 years & it certainly has the color to match. I know for a fact that some of the older Barton stuff is incredibly delicious. I've mainly explored single barrels up in this age range, so I inherently worry a bit that blindly blending a rack may not result in something exceptional. Let's jump in and find out.
Company on Label: Bottled by Three Springs Bottling Company for Western Spirits (sourced from Barton 1792)
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Barley
Age: 16 years
Further identification: This release comes from rack number W4005.09 which consisted of a 19 barrel batch
Nose: Immediately the nose jumps out with a really funky savory note like sea salt and vinegar chips. Another dive in parts ways with that oddity to reveal classic Barton aromas of leather, white pepper and laffy taffy. Soft caramel presents cool and thin in the nose-feel. The light vinegar note returns later in the glass alongside soft stone fruit. Returning to the nose from a sip elicits a much improved profile of vanilla frosting, softer, more supple leather, and grape skins. As the glass gets low, a funky balance between earthy root vegetables and bakery sweets forms. The empty glass smells of dry graham cracker, tarragon, stiff vinyl (think boat seats), and dentist's nitrile gloves.
Palate: On first sip I'm greeted by bright cherry, leather, tobacco and potent oak. As I swallow, I immediately feel as if I've just run my tongue across a wooden cutting board. Tannic barrel influence is quite drying and powerful. Bringing on another sip I find cherry jolly ranchers and red licorice. The linger carries more proof than the label would have you believe. Overall the profile comes across similarly to an old fashioned that went heavy on the Angostura bitters. The orange peel, however, comes across rather dry and stale. My last sip is heavy on the leather, molasses and barrel funk. Ultimately I think the non-versatile oak is the one trick pony here, which ultimately leaves me yearning for more from this pour. The finish is short and uneventful outside of a level chocolate note.
I certainly did not expect this to drink so simply. Many of the notes presented here were quite thin and flat. The flavors I did like were tamped down to a level that were nearly imperceptible. I think this would make a fine sipper for a day you or your palate might be a little tired and you just want something easy, but I can think of many other pours in this range that I would reach for first.