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While it is axiomatic that you cannot ordinarily judge a book by its cover or a whisky by its bottle, in this case I think you can judge this whisky by the bottle. The bottle has pretensions of elegance with its beautiful diamond heart shape yet is tempered by a rough hewn burlap neck liner, something I have never seen in a bottle before. The wooden stopper atop the cork lends a nice air as well and there is no label, instead the wording is etched on the bottle. Overall, this a rough, yet classy presentation, kind of like a cowboy in his Sunday best.
This whisky is distilled at the Barton Distillery in Bardstown, KY. It is a small batch product aged for 8 years with an unusual 46.85% alcohol. As this is a small batch product, I can only surmise that the unusual alcohol percentage is a by product of that. According to the label, the 1792 in the name comes from the year Kentucky became the 15th state in the United States.
At first I was rather disappointed in this bottle although it only goes for around US$25 in my area. It came off as rather rough and strong, opinions voiced by other reviewers. In that sense it reminded me of another product with 1792 in the name, the pipe tobacco 1792 Flake by Samuel Gawith which packs an enormous kick. As usual with such American whiskies, I may have a drink or two and then banish the product to a cool corner of my basement for further aging for a few months. This product was no exception. Still after a few months in my basement it was not amenable but gradually became more enjoyable.
Now after being open for about nine months and nearly finished, it is kind of like a town you live in but only appreciate when you depart. With the right perspective and patience it is enjoyable. The following tasting notes are with the bottle about 80% finished after being open for nine months and sampled from both a Glencairn and nosing glass at the same time over three nights. I much preferred the aromas in my Glencairn glass for whatever reason.
The nose and taste of this are strongly influenced by the wood, much more so than other similarly aged products. It is almost as if it were aged in a smaller cask like Laphroaig Quarter Cask to speed maturation. To get a sense for the wood influence, I also had small sips of Old Grand Dad BIB 100 proof and Buffalo Trace during my tasting. In comparison with 1792, those whiskies had very little wood influence. Overall though I much preferred 1792 to those whiskies and one can appreciate the depth of flavors in a small batch product as opposed to a more standardized bottling. Initially, the taste is rather bitter, salty and yeasty with a light minty note. After about 20 minutes in the glass, some light honey and sugar notes come out in the nose and taste. I believe these sweet notes save this whisky with some needed balance and it is unfortunate that they come out so late after being decanted.
The color is beautiful orange copper and the whisky has very slow descending legs and a rather viscous mouthfeel. The finish is medium long. In my particular scoring system, I believe this is definitely above average compared with other American whiskies and all in all I would recommend this although be prepared for deferred gratification.