So I didn’t like my last Kirkland (aka Costco) Small Batch Bourbon, because it was really just Jim Beam. On my last trip to Costco, I noticed this newcomer to the shelf, which was proudly labelled “by Barton 1792 Master Distillers”. Ok, I thought, at least it’s not Beam. I bought a bottle.
Just like Very Old Barton and 1792, this Kentucky Straight bourbon was distilled at the Barton 1792 distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. It’s a small batch bourbon without an age statement (so, minimum 4 years old) bottled at 46% ABV. My bottle says “Batch 1124” and cost only $19 for a 1-liter bottle.
Note that Kirkland is also selling Bottled-in-Bond and Single Barrel versions of this Barton bourbon, but I only saw the Small Batch at my location.
Nose: Cherry-laden, like sticky cherry pie filling. Negligible nose tickle. A touch of tutti frutti or fruit punch. Some nice caramel and a little oak… basic but pleasant.
Palate: Thin body. Mild to moderate tongue burn, appropriate for this proof. Again the first impression is of fruit punch with cherries, corn bread, and circus peanuts (banana-flavored candy) to follow. Very consistent with the aroma, which is to say it’s still basic but pleasant, with no off or bitter flavors. Only a touch of charcoal.
Finish: Medium length. A little drying oak tannin comes in, along with a bit of charcoal bitterness. The cherry lingers, though, providing a nice balance though the finish, which fades without evolving.
With Water: Several drops of water have little effect on the aroma, but sweeten the flavors on the palate slightly. Water doesn’t hurt, here, but also doesn’t make much difference.
Overall: A structurally sound, if basic bourbon. There are few of the heavy oak / sweet corn notes that one associates with classic bourbon. Still, there’s nothing wrong with a lighter bourbon especially if the goal is cocktails. The price is spot-on, so while you won’t be wowed, you could hardly be disappointed for $20 a liter.
I marked it “Recommended” because it’s essentially Very Old Barton at 46% for a very reasonable price on the West Coast. If you have access to “real” VOB, just buy as many bottles of the BIB (bottled-in-bond) as you can, and ignore Costco.