(This is a continuation of a series of reviews. For all of the background, start with Very Old Barton 86 Proof.)
It seems pretty silly to follow a bourbon review with a second review of the exact same thing, but 2% stronger. As far as I can tell online, there’s no other difference. Same age “ish” (4-6 years), same mash bill (75% corn, 15% rye, and 10% malted barley), same distillery (Barton 1792 Distillery)… 2% stronger. Woo.
I don’t know, Ryan. I just don’t know. Oh, it’s like a buck or two more, too.
Nose: Slightly stronger nose tickle (than the 86), and not much fruit. There are caramel notes, plus Bananas Foster.
Palate: Soft and supple, medium bodied. A moderate tongue burn is followed by more bananas and caramel. There’s more sweetness on the palate, and less bitterness.
Finish: Of medium length. Now the bitterness shows, with anise and various bitter herbs. Not terribly tannic or mouth-drying. Fades without evolving.
With Water: A few drops of water seem to mute the aroma. Even a rest in the glass doesn’t resolve this, instead adding more nose tickle. The palate seems thinner, with no added flavors. Only the palate picks up a vague tart cherry note, which does balance the bitterness a little. Don’t bother with the water here.
Overall: Super weird. At least with my bottles, going from the 86 proof to the 90 proof means more nose tickle and tongue burn as expected, but the loss of most of the fruit flavors and the gain of very little nondescript sweetness. My least favorite of the three reviewed today, by a large margin. Guess that 2% did make a big difference after all, just not in the direction I expected. If you’re in the store, go for the 86 proof or the 100 proof over this one. If they have the Bottled-in-Bond label, get that! Next up: VOB 100 Proof (but not BIB!)