After being pleasantly surprised by the quality of the new bottlings of Barton 1792 available under Costco’s house label (Kirkland), it was an easy decision when I saw they had the Bottled-in-Bond expression on the shelf during my last shopping trip. It was only a week later after recommending it to a friend that I learned it had sold out of every Costco store within 100 miles. Hopefully this is just a supply chain issue (a common retail affliction these days) and not a permanent state of affairs for this new lineup.
Just like Very Old Barton and 1792, this Kentucky Straight bourbon was distilled at the Barton 1792 distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. It’s a bottled-in-bond straight Kentucky bourbon which means it is at least four years old and bottled at 50% ABV. My bottle cost only $24 for a 1-liter bottle (5 bucks more than the “Small Batch”).
Nose: Dry at first, with only a sawdust note. A short rest in the glass reveals a torrent of cherry syrup, candy corn, light caramel, and corn syrup. It’s still light, but sweeter than the initial approach and very fruit-forward.
Palate: Light bodied. A mild tongue burn is followed quickly by various cherry flavors (syrup, jam, candied), and a reprise of the aroma notes.
Finish: Medium-long. Circus peanuts aka banana candy. Marshmallows. Slight oaky tannins, and a near-total lack of bitterness. Fades without evolving.
With Water: A few drops of water don’t seem to affect the bourbon, which bodes well for its mixing capabilities. Only add water if you find the 50% ABV to be too hot.
Overall: Essentially, this is just very good whisky at exactly the right price. The 100 proof bottling strength means you never have to worry about it disappearing into a cocktail or losing the flavor battle against an ice cube. It has all the quintessential bourbon characteristics (although it’s a little light on the oak), and exactly zero off-notes. If this were available at all times, it would be a regular staple in my drinks cabinet, and 80% of it would go into cocktails.
Praise aside, the very fact that it sold out so quickly in my local area negates its primary appeal. If it can’t be a staple because of availability, then it isn’t worth chasing down. Still, if you see a bottle at your Costco don’t hold back: it won’t disappoint as long as you’re looking for reliable 20-odd-dollar bourbon. If nothing else it’s essentially Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond aka VOB BIB 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.