By Richard Thomas
Updated January 23, 2017
In a recent piece for Inside Hook, I made the argument that in this time when a handful of bourbon brands have been popularized (or perhaps hoarded) into rarity, the wise thing to do was cultivate the overlooked stuff. When it comes to Kentucky bourbon, no major distillery is more overlooked than 1792, although I suspect that might not last more than a couple of years.
This is due to the strength of their 1792 Small Batch and their limited release series, now in it’s fourth expression with 1792 Full Proof. This high octane whiskey isn’t a cask strength, strictly speaking. The “Full Proof” part refers to entry proof, or the strength at which the bourbon enters the barrel. Typically new make whiskey comes off the still and is dialed down somewhat before it goes into the barrel.
So, it went into the wood at 125 proof (62.5% ABV) in 2007, and was aged for 8 1/2 years. After dumping, it was plate and frame filtered rather than chill filtered.
In the glass, the bourbon took on the look of brightly polished copper, that being a little surprising for a fairly well aged and very concentrated whiskey.
The nose smacked of wood, akin to toasted sawdust tossed onto a moist earthen floor. Beneath that was a strong current of fried plantains and maple syrup. I suppose you could say it smells like a winter’s breakfast in a rustic cabin in Hawaii.
I found it necessary to chuck in an ice cube, since it was a hot summer day when I was sampling the 1792 Full Proof. No worries there, though, because my summer drinking rule is “go bold,” and this stuff is certainly bold. So watered and chilled, it’s sweet, with heavy notes of vanilla and licorice, balanced by oaky barrel char. The finish turned earthy again, and was surprisingly mild given the over 60% ABV.
1792 Full Proof isn’t subtle or complex, but it’s also not loud or unduly hot. It’s bold without being brash, and an imminently approachable, drinkable high proof bourbon.
Addendum by Father John Rayls
This version of 1792 has a darker coloring than usual, looking like dark copper in both the bottle and the glass. It has a beautiful appearance and catches your eye sitting on the shelf (as does the price, come to mention it!) The legs are readily seen and appear almost immediately raising the prospect of an inviting mouthfeel.
The nose is readily detectable. The aromas are not aggressive, but very available. If you inhale deeply enough, there is a slight alcohol burn. You notice the normal bourbon aromas of caramel and vanilla with some nice baking spices. It is very inviting and hard to resist.
I almost always drink my whiskey neat, but be prepared for your first taste. Even after this bourbon making it as a regular for me, the first taste is always a punch in the face. The nose is so good that I often jump in forgetting it packs a punch on the palate. There is an interesting mouthfeel that is not oily or syrupy, but provides a very smooth feel. Caramel and spice (some slight vanilla underneath) drive the flavor profile with most of the action happening at the back of the tongue with action also at the roof of the mouth and all the way to the back of it.
The finish is medium to long and very satisfying with notes of sweet mint. I even find my lips tingling long after the finish. In case you hadn’t noticed already, I really enjoyed Barton’s 1792 Full Proof Bourbon.
$45 for a 750 ml bottle.