Barton. Home of 1792 & Very Old Barton.
Barton Distillery also known as the brand 1792. Although my whiskey notes for 1792 won’t be of amazing high praise as you will see later on, I was quite impressed with their distillery. The Barton Distillery is south of Louisville and owned by Sazerac. Sazerac is not a name you hear in the international world of whiskey, but they are quite a big player in American whiskey. They own Barton, Buffalo Trace and a few other distilleries between the US and Canada. Don’t underestimate them though. They have been in the business a long time as importers based in Louisiana. I heard they have quite the strong hold in the North American spirits market and are a force to be reckoned with (aka, watch out start up distilleries). Anyways, this post is about Barton’s. The name is actually only linked to one brand that they make. This brand is called Very Old Barton and is pretty cheap, about 22USD per 750mL. They also producers a few liqueurs and the most well-known brand, 1792. 1792 is the star of this operation and as of right now is only sold in the states.
This was one of the lucky distilleries that was chosen to produce medical spirits during prohibition. Unfortunately, in 1945 most of the facility burnt down from a fire that started in the fermentation room. You can see in the brick work where it was rebuilt. Since the 40’s, like many distilleries, it has changed hands a few times. In 2009 Sazerac made the purchase. The first thing they did was invest 26 million dollars into a new bottling facility. There are two automated lines on site and they can do plastic and glass bottles. This was to not only ensure they had sufficient capacity to fill their bottling needs, but contract work is a big source of income from this. The distillery sits on 192 acres and employs about 400 people. There are three grain silos on site. One silo for the malted barley and rye and the other two are for the corn. They use a hammer mill to work their grains and their mill can take about 400lbs of grain/minute. They do have two smaller back up mills that are sometimes used for the wheat and barley if needed.
There are two grain cookers and each will receive about 12,500 gallons of hot water and grain combined. The current rate of production is 80 mashes per week. The washbacks are awesome! They are all essentially “outside”, see the picture of the red washbacks. They believe it is more energy efficient to have them outside and they are maintained from the inside. I would love to have data on that. In total there are 14 stainless steel washbacks. The pictures show the inside, red sections of them versus the outside stainless steel. ofThe wash is then moved to the one column still used for whiskey. In total, on site, they have three column stills. The whiskey column still is 55 feet high with 26 total rectifying plates. As far as I was told, the column is almost 70 years old and you can tell. This is an antique for sure, but I love the “B” branding on it. After it goes through the copper doubler, I was able to try the new make spirit or “white dog”. It was quite chocolatey. The rick house I visited was 7 stories high, holding 19,000 barrels and built in the 1930’s. They don’t rotate barrels and just blend as need be. Now, I was told on my tour that the 1792 Master Blender is a female,
but I cannot find this anywhere on the internet. I know it is a male for Sazerac’s Buffalo Trace. I will have to look into this.
This is when we moved on to the tasting of course, but I did get myself into a bit of trouble. I asked the visitor center manager, that based on the three column stills and 14 washbacks, why wasn’t Very Old Barton and 1792 being produced in larger capacity and distributed further. There was silence and then I asked who they produced for or what other brands are made here. We know that Sazerac has other brands such as Kentucky Gentleman, Tom Moore and Ten High whiskey that are produced here at Barton, but I wanted to know if anything was contracted out. I was dismissed on this question. As I have said before, I don’t find sourcing whiskey a negative thing, but of course many of the brands that do source are protective. Anyways, here are my tasting notes for Barton produced and marketed whiskies…
Very Old Barton- Aged about 6-8 years old. 80 Proof
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Apples and caramel.
Palate: Unripe apples, has a bite to it, peanut brittle, dry grain and oak finish.
Only sold in 24 states and really not that bad for the cost. I did and will buy it again as a “bottom-shelf-steal”!
1792 Small Batch- 8-10 years old.
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Spice… and couldn’t find anything else.
Palate: Creamy spice, cinnamon, almost like Fireball whiskey. Long, burn finish.
They wouldn’t tell me the mash bill on this one, but I did not care for it or finish it. There are quite a few finishes on the classic 1792 out there, such as Full proof and port finish. It is possible I would enjoy these better, but too much cinnamon for me here.
At the end of the visit I purchased Very Old Barton! I think Barton’s facility is awesome and I would definitely recommend it. Especially since the tour is free and one of the most in-depth tours I have ever had. Either way, cinnamon flavors are just not for me and so I will move on to the next one!