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Ask Arok: 1792 and Very Old Barton

Posted on by Eric Burke

Last week, Dan left a comment on the post I did comparing 1792 Port Finish to a 1792 single barrel. 

What is the difference between 1792 and Very Old barton other than packaging? Thanks! 

Initially thought he was asking about flavor. Because I find them to be quite different, I was happy to share that I found 1792 to be hotter, drier and showing more wood influence than VOB. It turns out that his question was much more interesting than that, cutting to the heart of the difference between the juice that goes into the bottle for two brands. Since both of these bourbons are produced at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, KY one might assume that they are just the same bourbon put into different bottles.

At one point, this would have been an easy question to answer. Age. Both of these had age statements until just a few years ago. Very Old Barton was 6 years old and 1792 was 8. I assumed that this, along with barrel selection was probably still the case. But the bourbon industry has changed in the mean time. There is much less info on the label than there used to be for these two brands so I couldn't say for sure. To find out, I reached out to a contact I have at Sazerac to see if she would like to chime in. Here is what she had to say.

Age constitutes most of the difference in taste between Very Old Barton and 1792, as 1792 barrels are typically aged 3-4 years longer than Very Old Barton. We also taste, evaluate and approve all the barrels prior to use in any batch to ensure a consistent taste profile for every brand. So in other words, to ensure Very Old Barton always tastes like Very Old Barton and 1792 always tastes like 1792. 

So I was correct in my assumption that it is still age and barrel selection. But I was a bit surprised at one thing. Apparently in the last few years Very Old Barton has gotten younger at a faster pace than 1792 has. They used to be 2 years apart in age. Now they are 3-4 years different. Assuming that they wouldn't remove the 8 year age statement while making the bourbon older, we are left to deduce that Very Old Barton is now only 4-5 years old while 1792 is around 7-8. 

Toss in choosing barrels to fit the flavor profile and you get yourself a different brand that starts the same, but are pretty different when compared to one another. 

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