1792 Aged Twelve Years

I’d like to thank Sazerac for providing this review sample to me with no strings attached.

This week I had my 14 year old nephew staying with me. If I ever get as excited about bourbon as he gets about Fortnite, someone take my booze away. It'd be time for a dry out. He’s a good kid, love him to death, but he does have an obsession with this one video game. And hey, I get it. He get’s to hang out with his friends and he gets to play a game as well. Honestly, from what I noticed, half the time they aren’t even playing the game, they were just chatting. So I guess it isn’t much different than being on the phone all the time when I was a kid in the early 80s, except they get to have more than one other person on the line.

So because I am exhausted from dealing with a hormonal and moody teenager for most of the last week, I am looking forward to keeping things nice and simple tonight. Unlike recent posts, we are just talking about one bourbon. And it is one I have been looking forward to ever since they announced it.

Sazerac has been putting out limited releases under the 1792 brand for a few years now. I think I have liked every one of them. I was a big fan of the Port Finish. The High Rye was pretty amazing. I damn near fell in love with the Full Proof. So when I saw the announcement of a 12 year old version of 1792, I was pretty stoked. The press release states that this is the same recipe as the flagship 1792 just older, obviously. Plus, the suggested price is right in line with the other limited 1792 bourbons at $50.

1792 Aged Twelve Years

Purchase Info: This review sample was graciously provided by Sazerac for review purposes. Suggested retail price is $49.99 for a 750 mL bottle.

Details: 12 year age stated. 48.3% ABV

Nose: Cinnamon, cherry candy, eucalyptus, caramel.

Mouth: Lots of oak, caramel, cinnamon, hints of cherry Cola. Nice and spicy.

Finish: Spicy and medium length. lingering oak, caramel and cinnamon.


Thoughts: I'm on record as not being a fan of super oaky bourbons. Even so, I don't mind this one. It won't be my first choice but I'd certainly be happy to have it on my shelf. Not that it would last there very long. My wife loves older, oaky Bourbons. As such, I'm turning this over to her.

Wife thoughts: OMG YUM! oh wait… I have to say more than that. This is nice and spicy with the oak that I love in older bourbons. And it is priced like the older bourbons of yesteryear too. Brings back memories of pre-hiatus Elijah Craig 18 year. Add a small ice cube and this is a nice sipper.

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1792 Sweet Wheat Bourbon

Ever talked to a person that likes wheated bourbons? You'd know it if you had because if the subject turns to bourbon, they will invariably tell you that they prefer "wheaters." There are entire swaths of the whiskey internet singing the praises of wheated bourbons as if they were the second coming of sliced bread.

Typical bourbon is made from a mash of at least 51% corn with a combination of rye and malted barley making up the remainder. So what is a "wheated" bourbon? Quite simply it is a bourbon made where they substitute wheat for the rye. 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret though: I don't usually like a bourbon just because it has wheat in the recipe. In fact, it is quite often just the opposite. I find that most wheated bourbons have a slightly dusty bitter note on the finish that I just don't prefer. It can be subtle or quite noticeable depending on the age of the bourbon in question. 

In the end, though, it is all personal preference. There are plenty of wheated bourbons that hit my shelf. I tend to leave them for my wife because she loves wheaters while I am mostly indifferent to them. 

1792 Sweet Wheat

Purchase Info: $31.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 45.6% ABV

Nose: Caramel, melon, mint and a light spice.

Mouth: Cinnamon spice, caramel, and mint.

Finish: Warm and dry with nice cinnamon notes. As with most wheated bourbons, I'm finding a slight dusty bitterness to the finish.

IMAGE: a hand drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this one. That said, it's probably my least favorite of the 1792 limited edition releases. But that says more about how good the others were than it does about the quality of this one. Still, I'll probably leave the rest of the bottle for my wife. I'm a nice guy that way.

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1792 Bottled in Bond

I've been reading a lot of old 1950s and 1960s magazines lately. I'm reading them for the history but, as I create ads for a living, I can't help but be struck by the advertisements as well. And of course, these particular magazines have a lot of booze ads in them. 

Knowing that the bourbon crash was only a few years away, I am struck by the differences between the bourbon ads and the ads for clear spirits. The bourbon ads highlight luxury and impressing those you entertain. They are full of photos of men in tuxedos and women in fancy dresses. They look really old-fashioned. By contrast, the ads for clear spirits are fun. Even half a century later, they still have a freshness about them. It isn't hard to see why bourbon lost the war for the 1960s and 70s drinker. 

I did find it interesting though that bourbon was advertising itself as a luxury item for the ultra-rich and swanky. When I first started drinking alcohol, you could barely give bourbon away. When I first started drinking bourbon, it was an affordable luxury. You could get something old and really delicious for $30-40. Of course, these days the pendulum has swung back again. I saw an article touting an 11-year old bourbon from a major producer for $110 today. $10 per year of age, from the big guys, seems a bit ludicrous to me, but then there is a reason I'm the guy who runs the "Bottom-Shelf Brackets."

Luckily for those of us who drink on a budget, there is one producer who seems to have found their niche producing affordable limited edition bourbons. Sazerac's Barton distillery has been quietly putting out delicious, affordable bourbon after delicious, affordable bourbon in the 1792 line. Tonight I have a glass of the 1792 Bottled-in-Bond. Let's see how it tastes. 

1792 Bottled-in-Bond

Purchase info: $39.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 50% ABV. Distilled and bottled at DSP-KY-12. Non-age stated though the bottle says "well-aged."

Nose: Almond, Caramel, and cinnamon.

Mouth: Good heat with cinnamon and nutmeg followed by brown sugar and mint. 

Finish: Spicy and long with a heat that sort of creeps back up on you right in the middle of the chest.

Image: a hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: This is a tasty bourbon. Spicy and warm, it doesn't have the almost overwhelming heat of the 1792 Full Proof. Instead, it feels like a warm blanket straight from the dryer: pure comfort. It won't knock your socks off, but then you won't need to mortgage the house to afford it either. It sums up what brought me to bourbon in the first place: a tasty, affordable, luxury. 

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Bottom-Shelf Bourbon Brackets 2018: The Championship Rounds

Well, it's finally here. The championship rounds. This year was an interesting one for me on a couple of levels. For one, it was the first year that had guest judges. I have an idea that I may expand it further next year. This feels like it could be a fun party game for whiskey folk, provided the sips are restricted and everyone has a driver. Secondly, it is also the first year that I didn't restrict the competition to bourbon. I included corn whiskey and rye whiskey and sort of expected that corn would fold and rye would reign supreme. I was sorta right on the corn whiskey, it was a little too delicate to win against the flavorful rye, but it was no pushover. 

So now here we are. We are at the Last Four (Final Four being a registered trademark of a very litigious entity, there is no way I will use those two words together in a bracket post...): Old Grand Dad Bonded vs Two Stars and Old Forester vs Ezra Brooks Rye. Three bourbons and a rye. Let's see if rye reigns supreme or if bourbon can hold on to the odds. 

Division 1, Round 2: Two Stars (A) vs Old Grand-Dad Bonded (B)

Nose: Whiskey A is drier with more grain present while whiskey B is sweeter but shows a bit more alcohol. Winner: Draw.

Mouth: Whiskey B is sweeter but also shows a lot more grain notes. Whiskey A is more of a well-integrated whole, though it is a tad more delicate. Winner Whiskey A.

Finish: The finish on Whiskey A is a bit harsher and drier. Whiskey B is really good though and it has no obvious plusses or minuses to it.Winner Whiskey B. 

Thoughts: I'd say that Whiskey B wins this one on the strength of a better mouthfeel and a much tastier finish. Old Grand-Dad Bonded is moving on. 

Division 2, Round 2: Ezra Brooks Rye (A) vs Old Forester (B)

Nose: Whiskey A has a spicy ginger note while Whiskey B is pretty generic with sweet caramel.  Winner: Whiskey A.

Mouth: Whiskey A is spicy and fun but a bit thin. Whiskey B is sweet and spicy with a nice mouthfeel. It is close but the Winner is Whiskey A

Finish: Whiskey A shows ginger and citrus while Whiskey B is sweet and fruity. This comes down to personal taste. Winner: Whiskey A.

Thoughts: This one is tough. I adore the fun aspects of Whiskey A. I think it is bright and vibrant and I'm digging the citrus notes. On the other hand, I really like the sweet flavors, the nice mouthfeel, and the fruity finish of Whiskey B. Gun to my head? Winner: Ezra Brooks Rye. 

Championship Round: Old Grand-Dad Bonded (A) vs Ezra Brooks Rye (B)

Nose: Whiskey B is a spicy soda, Whiskey A is a dusty rickhouse. Winner: Draw.

Mouth: Whiskey A is sweet with a lovely mouthfeel. Whiskey B is spicy with a ginger ale flavor. Winner: Draw

Finish: Whiskey A is long with more sweetness. Whiskey B is also long, but is spicy. Winner: Draw.

Thoughts: Sometimes the tasting notes of bloggers make it look like we value the individual parts of a whiskey more than the whole. Though these two whiskeys are different, I liked them both, just in different ways. I like the spiciness of Whiskey B and I like the lovely mouthfeel of Whiskey A. There was a draw on every indiviual metric. And, though it was really close, when taken as a whole the Winner is Old Grand-Dad Bonded. 

Lessons learned

So was I shocked by anything this year? Not really. I was surprised that Old Forester beat Four Roses for every participant, but not enough to call it shocking. I was mildly surprised that a four seed beat a one seed, but when you notice that it is rye vs corn whiskey it is less surprising. Going into the final rounds I had guessed that Old Forester could very possibly be my winner, but wasn't shocked that a rye whiskey beat a bourbon. Even if it was only two years old.

Overall, I thought that there could very possibly be five winners in the initial grouping. I wouldn't have been surprised at any of Old Grand-Dad, Old Forester, Four Roses, Ezra Brooks and I thought that Mellow Corn had an outside shot. Because I worried that the seeding worked against them I went ahead and tried an alternate seeding. I put all the bourbon on one side and matched corn vs corn and rye vs rye on the other. Ezra Brooks beat Old Overholt and Mellow Corn defeated Hirsch, with Ezra Brooks rye still advancing to the finals. On the Bourbon side, Old Grand Dad beat Four Roses on the strength of a good mouthfeel and Old Forester beat Two Stars. Old Grand Dad then defeated Old Forester and advanced to the finals where the result was the same. Overall, I'm satisfied that the best whiskey (for my palate)won.

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