1792 Ridgemont Reserve Barrel Select. That’s a pretty huge mouthful of a name, let’s take a look:
Why 1792? That’s the year Kentucky became a state. Since the distillery was established in 1879, the why is marketing. In fact, the why on the whole damn name is marketing wrung through the legal system, exclusively.
Why 1792 Ridgemont Reserve and not Ridgemont Reserve 1792? Because they tried that, and Woodford Reserve (the whisky made AT Woodford Reserve Distillery in Woodford County) felt they were infringing on their trademark. For clarity, 1792 is produced at Barton 1792 distillery in Bardstown.
Reserve? Barrel Select? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? As Steve Heimoff suggests these guidelines for wines, but the suggestions carry over for whiskey as well:
“Reserve” and “Private Reserve.” These are routinely and wantonly abused because they have no meaning whatsoever. A wine cannot be a “reserve” unless there’s a “regular” but in case after case, you find there is no regular. So change the law. Make it mandatory that “reserve” is a small percentage of the winery’s regular bottling of that wine.
“Barrel Select.” A true barrel selection means you took a portion of your best barrels, as determined by tasting, and bottled them separately. Unfortunately, most wines labeled “barrel select” don’t seem to have undergone this sorting out process. Change the law to make “barrel select” mean what it says. (The term “barrel select reserve,” which quite a few wineries use, therefore would be an oxymoron.)
Which renders the name of this bourbon utterly meaningless. Let’s call it Not The Date Of Founding Not The Place Of Making Not Reserve And Not Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Because that is at least honest in its lack of information, even if it’s even longer than before. Whatever.
These reviews of market literature are making me cynical. It can make me not like a whiskey I sort of liked the taste of. I know how important the authenticity of the lineage and the marketing weight of something called Warehouse Z, but all I can tell you about the ingredients or the process is that they use “slightly more rye than most”. But it’s still a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey so you know it has to be at least 51% corn, but you have no idea about the breakdown of the rye and malted barley. Trade secret? I mean, I guess, but even a ballpark figure would be cool. It would allow folks like us who enjoy trying different whisk(e)ys to really dial in our favourites.
Anyway, here’s what we thought:
Dan – red rouge
Simon – nicely dark
Goran – dark amber
Ryan – red
Dan – floral aspect
Simon – maple/caramel, corn sugar, slight perfume
Goran – corn, heavy, vanilla, cinnamon
Ryan – slight pine
Dan – spicy caramel corn, very sweet, wood
Simon – slight spice & pepper, high proof for sure
Goran – lively spice, dry, one dimensional, slight bitterness, coconut, pinenut
Ryan – nutmeg
Dan – not too much burn, wood
Simon – hot butter
Goran – buttery, coconut
Ryan – chest burn
Dan – spice gone, sweet, dry
Simon – subtler
Goran – strawy, drier
Ryan – way creamier, less woody
Try it? Yes. Buy it? 50% no.