Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bottle # 2 - 1792 Ridgemont Reserve

I was clued into this bourbon by my friend Chris Smallwood, while driving around Louisville, KY. My wife and I were in town for a weekend, after having trekked through Mammoth Cave and visited the Heaven Hill & Jim Beam distilleries. Chris was the only person we knew in town kind enough to show us around and indulge our late night quest for pie. It also helped that he'd been my roommate for 2 years in college, and I guess he owed me for not doing the dishes once or twice.

At this point, I hadn't tasted a lot of bourbon, mainly Maker's Mark, Jim Beam, & Woodford Reserve...a few that even the bourbon uneducated might be able to name and have tasted. The Heaven Hill tour & tasting definitely launched me into a bourbon quest, and when Chris (proud, native bourbon loving Kentuckian) mentioned that 1792 Ridgemont Reserve was his favorite pour, I made a note to pick up a bottle.

1792 is distilled by Barton, out of Bardstown, and is a 8 year old small batch bourbon. If you do any research into it, you'll find that it was sued by Woodford Reserve for the naming similarities, as it used to be called Ridgewood Reserve. Clever, Barton, as I was once almost fooled when I saw this on sale at Frugal McDougals in Nashville and thought it was Woodford before looking a bit closer. So, they changed the name to Ridgemont, and went on their way.

The first thing that strikes you about this bourbon is the bottle. Seriously, this is my favorite bottle of all time (close 2nd by Black Bottle Scotch). It just looks beautiful. I've been drinking this bottle so slowly because I can't bear the thought of having to recycle it.

RR is 93.7 proof, which I love because it's so random...most bourbons stick to nice, whole numbers. I guess the master distiller at Barton happens to think that this is the best at the proof, but any insight anyone has would be welcomed.

So, onto the tasting (soundtracked by the Bruce Springsteen 5lp live album, record 4).

On the nose, it's not very strong, but I'm picking up vanilla and oak, and maybe what a lot of reviewers on Bourbon Enthusiast deem "leather."

The taste is initially sweet, and then goes straight for rye and char. The finish is moderate, and the taste of rye and pepper linger at the end.

Overall, I like this bourbon. I might love the bottle even more. It's really good neat, and goes well with a raging fire and a copy of Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball (which I've just started, and it's amazing). For about $27 a bottle, it's a good value, but I believe I'd pick up a bottle of Four Roses Small Batch or Evan Williams Single Barrel before I'd go for this. If it goes on sale, then I'd probably stock up, but until then, this bottle will have to hold down the fort. Sorry, Chris.