I’m really feeling for the Barton 1792 Distillery. In the Spring of 2018, a rickhouse collapsed, sending half of the 18,000 barrels inside tumbling. Just under a year later, a large fermentation tank collapsed, rupturing some adjoining tanks, and sent 120,000 gallons of “beer” (fermented mash) pouring across a parking lot.
1792 is a brand I’ve tried before, and while it was fine, I was curious if the bottled-in-bond variety was better.
A Stately History
1792 Bourbon produced by the Barton 1729 Distillery in Bardstown, KY has an interesting history. The brand and distillery were purchased by Sazerac (who also owns Buffalo Trace) in 2009. The brand itself is a reference to the year, 1792, that Kentucky was granted statehood. At one point in time, the brand was marketed as “Ridgemont Reserve 1792”. Brown-Forman Corporation promptly brought suit for trademark infringement on its Woodford Reserve brand – and won. Subsequently, Barton dropped the “Ridgemont Reserve” and used just the “1792 Bourbon” brand name.
The distillery traces its roots to 1872 when founder Ben Mattingly built the first buildings near a bend in the Beech Fork River. A pair of employees, including Tom Moore, purchased the site, calling it the Morton Spring Distillery (as the natural Morton’s Spring ran nearby) and ran it until 1881 when it was sold to investors. Moore began competing next door, and his operation ultimately grew large enough to allow him to re-purchase the Morton Spring Distillery and merge the two organizations.
The Thomas Moore Distillery continued until Prohibition, at which time operations were idled. Following Prohibition, Tom sold the operation and after a few more acquisitions, was renamed the Barton Distillery. During those times, the 1792 and Barton bourbons surged in popularity. Fast forward to 2009 when the operations were again re-purchased by Sazerac and the complex was retitled “The Barton 1792 Distillery”. Today, the operations include 51 individual buildings, spread across several hundred acres and home to 29 massive rickhouses (including the one that collapsed in 2018). All told, nearly 2 million barrels rest peacefully – the equivalent to nearly 530 million individual bottles.
1792 Bottled-in-Bond, by regulation, is a product of a single distillation season, produced by one distiller, at one distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under US government supervision for at least 4 years, and bottled at 100 proof. Barton, like its parent Sazerac, does not generally disclose its mashbills, but the product is marketed as “high rye”, so I would expect this product to contain 15-25% rye, along with at least 51% corn, and the rest in malted barley.
Eye: Medium copper.
Nose: Typical notes of vanilla and caramel, intertwined with wood and spice.
Palate: Wow! There’s a lot of vanilla. Some graham cracker and dried fruits (cherries perhaps?). This has a smooth mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium, smooth and balanced with a slight, dry oaky note at the finish
Overall: I’ve enjoyed the basic 1792 Small Batch (which is widely available). I snagged this bottle of Bottled-in-Bond to see how it compared to its sibling. The regular Small Batch typically hovers in the upper-$20 range, and this BiB was around $36 or so.
In the end, it’s not bad – but if you’re looking to spend a similar amount – I’d grab something a little more interesting, such as New Riff BiB or Wilderness Trail BiB at near-similar price points.