1792 Small Batch Straight Bourbon is a bold, spicy high-rye bourbon that offers a great value for straight expressions.
Classification: straight bourbon
Company: Sazerac Company
Distillery: Barton 1792 Distillery
Cask: new American oak
Proof: 93.7 (46.85% ABV)
Aged: NAS (at least 2 years)
Awards: Silver, 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition; Gold, 2019 Los Angeles International Spirits Competition; Double Gold, Three Double Gold Medals World Spirits Competition
- Bold, spicy high-rye straight bourbon
- Great value for a high-proof straight bourbon
- Not particularly subtle or complex
- Newcomers to bourbon may find it brash (fans might prefer “old school”)
Color: Dark amber honey
Nose: Rye spice is the first thing that hits, with softer notes of oak and vanilla. The ethanol hit is pretty strong; don’t stick your whole nose in the glass.
Palate: Upfront, it’s a decidedly high-rye bourbon with all the spice and tingle that accompanies. On the midpalate, it’s full-bodied and chewable with subtle notes of chocolate. As it exits, there is a mild burn from the alcohol, but it doesn’t obscure notes of spice, vanilla and coffee bean.
Finish: Long, spicy finish with additional vanilla and a hint of sweetness
One of the great things about a spirit classified as a straight bourbon is that there’s little room for deception. No colors or flavors can be added, there’s a minimum age requirement, and of course there are the rest of the standard bourbon rules of 51% or more corn, new oak aging, etc. So if a straight bourbon is staring at you and comes in under $40, you can be confident it’s at least the real deal, and the 1792 small-batch straight bourbon is indeed that.
The brand has been around in some form since 2002, when it bore an age statement of 8 years. No age statement has been provided since 2013, but it still feels like it’s not a young whiskey; its component whiskeys are likely 4 to 8 years old.Back in 2002, there was a lot less shelf space dedicated to bourbons, and 1792 stood out almost immediately as a hidden gem. Nowadays, it may be viewed as brash or rough in comparison with the multitude of options, especially with the explosion of “sweeter” wheated bourbons. But more than one old-timer appreciates the character and body 1792 exhibits in a world of “approachable” whiskeys.
Sazerac doesn’t disclose the mash bill, but there’s definitely quite a healthy rye content; some speculate as much as 25%. The result is that the dominant descriptor for both nose and palate is “spice.” Its surprisingly high proof (brands that have lowered their bourbons to 80 generally have done so to save money; the lower the proof, the more water in the bottle) also means that “hot” might be a word that applies on the first swallow. For drinkers who are most used to Maker’s Mark or Woodford, it may take some getting used to. That said, the whiskey is clean, bold and exactly what it claims to be. Sip it slowly, add a little ice or water to cut the heat, and appreciate it for what it is.
Barton Distillery (now Barton 1792 Distillery) has been around since 1879 and offers daily tours.
The bottom line: 1792 bourbon is an honest no-nonsense high-rye bourbon at an excellent price point.