While the actual date is a little unclear it was sometime around 2002 - 2004. I was on vacation in Florida and stopped by to visit an uncle who happened to be vacationing there at the same time. We were sitting around his kitchen table catching up when he got up and said, “I have something new for you to try.” He walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of bourbon I’d never seen or had. We each poured a drink and continued to chat.
This was before I really started to “enjoy” bourbon like I do today. While I don’t remember specific aromas or the palate, after piecing some dates and personal family events together I now know that what I had that day was the original Ridgewood Reserve 1792.
We know it as just plain old 1792 today. And before that, 1792 Ridgemont Reserve. Thanks to a lawsuit filed by Brown-Forman that was settled in 2004, Barton was forced to change the name.
While the name has obviously changed and the 8-year age statement dropped, the actual bourbon hasn’t changed. Or so Barton (a Sazerac company) would like us to believe. That’s one of the things I aim to find out with this review series.
I have never owned one of the early bottles of Ridgewood Reserve 1792. Based on the secondary prices I’ve seen, I probably won’t. Especially when all that literally changed in the early days of the brand was the name and label. The 8-year age statement wasn’t dropped until 2013. With that said, I do own a bottle of 1792 Ridgemont Reserve 8 year. And that’s exactly what I’m kicking this series off with.
This series will also include reviews of the old label 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Small Batch (sans age statement), the new label 1792 Small Batch, Sweet Wheat, Port Finish, Single Barrel, High Rye and Full Proof. For the traditional expressions I will include a few side-by-side notes. For example the 8-year age stated next to both NAS expressions (once I’ve reviewed the two NAS bourbons). Heck, I might even throw in a few notes on some really nice store picks that I’ve been fortunate to add to my collection.
Without further ado, let’s kick this thing off!
1792 Ridgemont Reserve Small Batch 8 year
Age: 8 years
Mash bill: Higher rye, thought to be approx. 75% Corn, 15% Rye, and 10% Barley
U.S. Price: $50 USD (1.75ml)
Nose: Musty oak, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, light pepper and sugar. It’s very oak and vanilla forward but once it opens up a bit the sugar really starts to poke through along with hints of mint.
Palate: It’s medium bodied with a slightly viscos mouth feel. It has some really nice but subtle rye spice to it with notes of cinnamon and red pepper. The oak comes alive on the palate, dusting off that mustiness from the nose. Toward the end there are some mild clove and tobacco flavors.
Finish: The finish is medium with cinnamon upfront and nice caramel and tobacco flavors toward the end. To round out this pour the mint from the nose pokes its head back in the door to wave goodbye.
Overall I really enjoy this whiskey. It’s an easy drinker AND it’s higher rye, which I really enjoy. If you happen upon a bottle of this age stated expression, especially still at retail (approx. $25-$30 for 750ml and $50-$55 for 1.75ml) it’s definitely worth picking up. Having lost it’s age statement just four years ago I wouldn’t really considerate it a true dusty, but it’s still a fun find. Especially since it should provide a nice comparison to todays NAS.
Where did Barton get the name “1792?” I’m glad you asked. In 1776 Kentucky officially became part of Virginia and was called Kentucky County. Then, just 4 years later Kentucky County was divided up into Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln Counties. After a few failed government petitions, on June 1, 1792 Kentucky officially became the 15th state to join the Union.
Photos & Review By: Seth Brown