By Richard Thomas
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.
$45 for a 750 ml bottle.