Back to Basics: Barton
One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new part of the world is check out the local bars and liquor stores to see what they're drinking. Japan was an incredible, eye-opening experience in this regard. Highballs were everywhere (even in cans from vending machines), and shops were full of all kinds of unrecognizable labels. When David and I visited Kentucky for the first time last year, we saw everyone drinking a brand called Very Old Barton. It was everywhere we went. Granted, we had heard that Sazerac's other Kentucky distillery (you know, not-Buffalo Trace) was very popular in its home state, but I was taken aback at how prevalent it was; especially considering they don't distribute it to the West Coast. It's an inexpensive local favorite that stays pretty local for that reason. As you can see in the above photo, the 90 proof 1.75L bottles sell for about $25.
That's not to say we can't get Barton Bourbon out here in California; it just won't say "Barton" on the bottle. Sazerac launched 1792 Ridgemont Reserve (and also renamed the distillery, although everyone still calls it Barton) in an attempt to create a new, higher-end version of the whiskey nationwide. We stock the brand here at K&L, and I'm a fan, but I'm a bigger fan of their single barrel program. When I can find the right barrel of Barton Bourbon it truly is a wonderful thing. The whiskey is so much fruitier and softer than most of its Kentucky brethren. The initial aroma is one of brandied cherries, rather than just pure wood. At 46.85%, this isn't a big, bold whiskey you'll want to add water to. It's not something I would mix into a Manhattan (you could, but the sweet vermouth would take center stage). It's not going to wow you with complexity, or go down in the record books as one of the top ten Bourbons you've ever had. It's just a soft, fruity, mellow, easy-drinking whiskey that's full of flavor and alive with spirit. It's not mild, or bland, or thin, or boring. It's just not trying to impress you, that's all.
Of course, what's the point of drinking whiskey if you're not trying to impress other people? Oops. Did I say that out loud?
Barton. Basic Bourbon for people who like to drink whiskey and have it taste good. A local favorite in Kentucky. A new single cask expression chosen by us here at K&L.