Whiskey Review: 1792 Small Batch Bourbon (Aged Twelve Years)

If you’re a bourbon enthusiast like me, you’re in for a real treat today. I’m always on the hunt for unique bottles and recently stumbled upon a gem at my local liquor store: the 1792 Small Batch Bourbon.  

I’ve been tasting bourbon for a long time, and I get pretty excited when it’s time to try something new. This bottle piqued my curiosity for several reasons. 

First off, a twelve-year-old expression is an awesome find. Second, 1792, produced by the Barton Distillery, is known for its high-rye mash bill, which often translates into a spicy and complex flavor profile.

1792 Small Batch is Barton’s flagship bourbon. It’s undergone a few naming changes over the years from 1792 Ridgewood Reserve, to 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, and finally to 1792 Small Batch. 

The brand once featured an 8 year age statement on the back of the bottle,  but it was removed in late 2013. Not long after, the bottle design was updated with the change to 1792 Small Batch.

What Makes a 12-Year-Aged Bourbon So Interesting?

A 12-year-aged bourbon is interesting for several reasons:

  • Maturity: Twelve years is a significant amount of time for bourbon to spend maturing in charred oak barrels. This aging period allows the bourbon to extract more complex flavors and aromas from the wood, resulting in a smooth bourbon with a richer taste profile than younger bourbons.
  • Scarcity:  In recent years I’ve noticed that age statements are becoming increasingly rare in the bourbon market. Many distilleries prioritize faster production cycles, leading to a shortage of older bourbons. A 12-year-old expression is a unique find for bourbon enthusiasts who appreciate the depth of flavor that comes with extended aging.
  • Flavor Profile:  With age, the harshness of the alcohol mellows, allowing the subtle notes from the grain bill and barrel char to shine through. A 12-year-old bourbon might offer a more complex interplay of sweetness, spice, oaky notes, and even hints of fruit.
  • Investment Potential: While not all 12-year bourbons are investment pieces, some limited edition or single-barrel releases with this age statement can hold value for collectors. 
  • Experience of Time:  For bourbon enthusiasts, a 12-year-old expression represents a journey in time. It allows them to appreciate the careful crafting process and the patience required to create a genuinely exceptional bourbon.

1792 bourbon review-Bottle and presentation

The Bottle and Presentation

Right away, I noticed that the bottle design is pretty standard for 1792. It’s got a classic, tall silhouette and a simple label. The age statement prominently displayed on the front is the first thing that grabbed my attention. 

When I flipped it over, I noticed some interesting details on the back of the bottle. The details mention a unique mash bill, but unfortunately, the specifics are a mystery. 

There’s also a mention of aging in Warehouse Z, which some bourbon enthusiasts believe gives it a unique flavor profile due to specific temperature and humidity conditions.

My Initial Tasting Experience

Now, let’s move on to the main content and my favorite part – the tasting! I poured a neat dram and immediately noticed a tawny colored pool of bourbon. The first whiff on the nose offers a delightful mix of aromas. 

There’s a prominent sweetness reminiscent of sweet vanilla and perhaps a hint of stone fruits. But beneath this sweetness is the unmistakable rye spice that 1792 is known for. This bold bourbon boasts an incredible deep and smoky taste,

The first sip made me utter “Wow!” The sweetness from the nose translates beautifully to the palate, with notes of sweet spices and a touch of fruity sweetness. The rye spice is present on the taste buds, but it’s well-integrated, offering a pleasant warmth rather than a harsh bite. 

The barrel influence shines through with subtle hints of oak notes, adding depth and a touch of dryness. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, coating the tongue nicely.

As I moved on, the sweet notes lingered for a surprising amount of time. The finish is of medium length, which left me wanting another sip to explore the complexities further.

My Full Review

  • Visuals: When I first poured this bourbon, I stepped back to admire its color. It wasn’t quite gold but a rich, deep amber.
  • Aroma (Nose):  I was pleasantly surprised by the first whiff. A wave of sweetness hit me first, like warm vanilla fresh from the bean. But then came a hint of something more complex –  maybe a touch of red cherry skins lurking beneath the surface. And there it was – that signature 1792 rye spice, not overpowering but adding a pleasant tingle to the aroma. As I took a deeper sniff, I swear I could almost detect a hint of baking spices like nutmeg or cinnamon, adding another layer of intrigue.
  • Palate (Taste):  The first sip was a revelation. The sweetness from the nose translated beautifully to the taste buds. It wasn’t a sugary sweetness, but a more nuanced one, like brown sugar or maybe some dried fruit. Then came the spice – a gentle warmth that spread across my tongue, perfectly balanced by the sweetness. The oak influence was subtle, adding a hint of dryness and complexity. The mouthfeel was incredibly smooth and creamy, coating my tongue with a pleasant richness. As I held the sip for a moment, the flavors seemed to evolve. The sweetness lingered, but a hint of dark chocolate emerged, adding a touch of depth.
  • Finish:  The finish wasn’t overly long but undoubtedly satisfying. The sweetness faded gradually, giving way to the rye spice, which lingered like a warm ember. A hint of black pepper snuck in at the very end, adding a touch of peppery heat that was more playful than overpowering. Overall, the finish left me wanting another sip to explore the complexities further.

Value and Recommendation

The exact price point of this limited-edition bottle might vary depending on your location, especially if you’re shopping at a high-end liquor market. I found it to be a great value. While it’s certainly not a top shelf whiskey, I consider it a great bourbon. Considering the aged twelve years statement and the overall quality of the bourbon, it stands out from similarly priced standard small batch offerings.

Here’s the thing: This isn’t a full proof bourbon or a barrel entry proof beast. It’s a smooth, T’sl-aged sipper that allows the unique mash bill and aging process to shine. For bourbon lovers who appreciate the high-rye profile of 1792 but might find the standard small batch expression a bit too spicy, this aged twelve years version offers a more balanced and mature experience.

The Final Verdict

The 1792 Small Batch Bourbon (Aged Twelve Years) is a really lovely surprise. While there isn’t a ton of information about it, the bourbon itself speaks volumes. 

It’s a testament to the Barton Distillery’s ability to craft exceptional aged expressions. 

With its sweet vanilla notes,  rye spice, and smooth finish, this limited edition is a solid bourbon that deserves a spot on any bourbon enthusiast’s shelf. Like all Barton products, it’s a great purchase. As an overall rating, I’d give it 88 points.

Whiskey Advocate’s Review of 1792 Bourbon

“Initially, it’s a nut-filled experience with toasted walnuts, pecans, and Brazil nuts, but an atypical spice appears lovely. Smoked hatch chiles mingle with rounded notes of cinnamon, créme brûlée, Bananas Foster, orange, canned peaches, caramel chew, and toffee. The black pepper spices reappear for a grand finish. Fred Minnick, summer 2018.”

If you enjoy the high-rye profile, I suggest you explore other offerings from the Barton Distillery, such as Elijah Craig. If you’re on the hunt for a similar aged twelve years experience, I recommend Stagg Jr. Batch.

Want me to review another whiskey? Drop your favorite in the comments below, and I’ll sip and share soon!

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