Nose: This has a straight up, classic bourbon smell. Caramel and vanilla. If you sniff deeply, you’ll definitely feel the the alcohol as a tickle on the inside of your nose. Palate: The first sip absolutely lets you know you have just put something high proof in your mouth. I usually don’t look at the proof before sipping, but I knew this was going to be high proof because, well, it is called “High Proof”. Knowing that and being prepared for it are two different things. Luckily, by the second sip, my palate was a bit adjusted and ready for it. I was rewarded by a rich and complex flavor with the heat. For me, higher proof products are a little harder to read because you have to look past the heat to find the flavors. BUT…I like the challenge. This seemed to me to have good traditional base bourbon flavors of caramel and vanilla, but with a good deal of wood and SUPER oddly, a little bit of mushroom. Yes, mushroom. Surprised? Yeah, me too, and it was definitely a first. It is very faint, and it is more like Cream of Mushroom soup, but it was the only thing I could thing of when this flavor hit me. Is that a bad thing? Not really, because it adds an earthiness that is nice and chunky on the palate. The mouthfeel on this, as you might expect, is very nice and thick. OK, high proof…..I like high proof….but I get that others don’t. So……this one gets some water to see what happens…. I added about 5 drops and let it sit for a little bit. The water seems to bring out the rye spice flavors. It does tone down the heat a little, but you still feel it. A second sip, quite a while later, brings out some really nice sweet tones….maybe molasses and brown sugar? I ran out of sample before I had a chance to add more water, but I think maybe a few more drops would tone this down to where most people would really enjoy it. This might also be a very good candidate for drinking with one of those jumbo square or round ice cubes. Comment: In the whiskey world, I think high proof is an acquired taste. And, even if you like it, you probably only have one once in a while when you’re in the mood for it (you better be!). It is a rainy morning, so it seemed like a good day for it. I happen to like higher proof, but more specifically, I like a high proof that is high because that is EXACTLY how it comes out of the barrel (which is not the case here). I just think it is super neat to taste exactly what it tastes like, without any alteration. AND….I like the fact that if I don’t like it, I can add my own water, to taste. If you don’t like a high proof bourbon, well, this is high proof, so you probably won’t like it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I would always encourage someone who doesn’t like high proof to at least try it and then add some water. That applies here. So how high is “High proof”? In this case, 125 proof. This is supposedly an 8.5 year old bourbon, which to me, is right in the “sweet zone”. The mashbill is rumored to be, 75% corn, 15% rye and 10% malted barley. Barton, who puts this out, describes it as “high rye” but it really isn’t over-the-top in rye. They skip the chill filtering they usually use and instead pass it through a “plate and frame” filter (hey, don’t ask me, I don’t know what that is!). Technically, this is NOT a barrel proof because they do water it down SLIGHTLY. Although some 1792 offerings leave something to be desired (although, usually they still aren’t bad), one thing I like about them is the cost. This is one of their higher priced bourbons, and you can usually find it in the mid $40 range, and sometimes less. I wouldn’t recommend this as a regular sipper, but it isn’t a bad choice, for the money, for those times when you want a little more oomph in your bourbon. Lastly……this bourbon was bestowed the 2020 World Whisky of the Year by noted whiskey authority, Jim Murray. My bottle is a few years older than 2020, so I can’t really say how it may have changed since then. Murray scored it at 97.5 out of 100.
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