The 1792 brand has gone through some name changes over the years. The brand was created by Barton Distillery about 20 years ago as “Ridgewood Reserve 1792” with an 8-year age statement as Barton’s first entry into the “super-premium” category of Bourbons. The “1792” was intended to pay homage to the year Kentucky became a state. It was a small batch Bourbon designed to compete with brands like Knob Creek and Woodford Reserve. In fact, Brown-Forman thought the package and the name were too similar to Woodford Reserve and took Barton to court. In 2004, a Federal judge ruled that Barton had infringed upon Woodford Reserve’s trademark. Barton changed the name of the brand to Ridgemont Reserve 1792.
Sazerac purchased the Barton Distillery and their brands in 2009. In 2013 they dropped the age statement from the brand, but they also started offering other expressions. As these new expressions were released, the “Ridgemont Reserve” part of the name was dropped and the brand became simply “1792”. The expression I am tasting here is their “High Rye” expression of 1792. Sazerac does not define how they determine that it is a high rye Bourbon, but I believe they used over 25% rye in the mash bill. The label simply states that they use less corn and more rye in this expression than they use in the standard expression of 1792. I guess you could define any Bourbon as “High Rye” if the distillery uses more rye than they do in their standard version of a brand, even if the standard bran only uses 1% rye and you increase the amount to 2%, by this definition the second version is the “high rye” version of the brand. If a distillery is going to call a product “High Rye”, then it would be nice if they stated how much rye is in the product on the label.
1792 High Rye Bourbon
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Brown sugar and marshmallows with a hint of fine leather, baking spices and oak. There is a nutty flavor that is hiding in the background that I think could be black walnuts. A very interesting nose that changes as it breathes.
Taste: Caramel, baking spices with a little fruit – ripe apples and pears, oak and fine leather or tobacco. When tasted with a dried cranberry some citrus notes and rye grassiness come out which makes me think I am correct in guessing that there is more than 25% rye in the mash bill. When tasted with a pecan there is a buttery mouthfeel with lots of sweet oak and the baking spice becomes cinnamon.
Finish: Long and dry with sweet oak wood, baking spices and a hint of tobacco. The cranberry added that citrus note into the finish and reduced the wood, allowing more spice to come forward. The pecan made the finish very dry with lots of oak and cinnamon.
I am pairing this Bourbon today with an Espinosa Habano No.4 cigar. I find the smoke to be filled with hay and grass, vanilla and a hint of cedar spiciness and Worcestershire sauce. The Bourbon reduced the hay and grass while increasing the vanilla and spice notes. The smoke made the Bourbon very creamy with vanilla, fruit and just a hint of spice. An excellent pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller