1792 is named for the year that Kentucky became a state, but despite the 200+ year statement on the front of the bottle, this is a drink that at first look seems to strike a good balance between recognizing heritage and focusing on the contents of the bottle.
Beyond the central placement of 1792, only the heavy-wooden cap and the burlap ring around the neck lend 1792 a backward-looking air. Yet even one of these (the burlap ring) manages to express heritage in a manner that is unique in the marketplace these days.
The rest of the presentation is refreshingly stark. Very little copy on the front, clean lines on the edges, thick glass on the bottom, and a clear eschewal of old-timey script all make this bottle stand out on the shelf. My biggest complaint is in the imitation hand-written label on the back. Really, guys – you’re not fooling anyone with this stuff. Either hand-label your bottles or don’t. Pretending to be homey and individualized when you aren’t simply comes across as disingenuous.
One thing I really look for and enjoy is a good initial whiff when you first open a new bottle of bourbon. This is the first impression the drink has a chance to make and it can often color the tasting to follow.
1792 has a great first-opening whiff that really gives a good sign of the bourbon to come. The whiff is quite sweet, rounded, and largely unagressive – it’s appealing but leaves you with a curiosity about what’s deeper.
To the nose, 1792’s sweetness develops into a sensation of fresh fruit. Beyond that is a wet grass and springtime air, very refreshing.
On the palate, 1792 is very smooth with a burst of sweet fruitiness at the end. The finish is mild and warming, but with a very interesting pine and saltiness as a parting shot. This saltiness is unlike anything I’ve tasted in other bourbons so far on my march through the category. It reminds me, though, of a Talisker or Laphroaig – a bit of a kick at the end of an otherwise rounded whiskey.
I usually enjoy punchier bourbons with several layers of flavors coming at you at once, but I have to admit that while 1792 does not do this at all, I still enjoyed it. 1792 is not all that complex but it is well rounded with simple yet full flavors. That salty finish is really what sets it apart for me and adds a bit of a question mark at the end of a definitive statement.