I was in need of an everyday pour, suitable for consumption or cooking. Last year, I had reviewed a number of bargain shelf brands – see here and here, including Very Old Barton 100 Proof. It was good enough, though, that I felt it deserved its own review.
All in the Family
Very Old Barton is produced by the Barton Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Founded in 1879, the Barton family of products was acquired in the 1990s by Constellation Brands and in 2009 was sold to the Sazerac Company, owners of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. In addition to the Very Old Barton series, the Barton brands include 1792, as well as true bargain-shelfers, such as Zackariah Harris, Kentucky Tavern, and Kentucky Gentleman, as well as blended whiskeys, such as Fleishmann’s, Old Thompson, and Ten High.
You may recall that Barton has experienced more than its fair share of bad luck of late. In the Summer of 2018, one of the 29 rickhouses dating to the 1940s collapsed. Over the span of several days, 9,000 barrels were sent tumbling when half the building collapsed. Luckily (if there is any luck), 2/3rds of the barrels remained undamaged. Later, in March 2019, a large fermentation tank collapsed, rupturing some adjoining tanks, sending 120,000 gallons of “beer” (fermented mash) pouring across a parking lot.
Very Old Barton comes in a couple of bottlings – both an 80 proof and a heftier 100 proof. I’m enjoying the 100-proof version for this tasting. The bottle does not contain an age statement, though four short years ago, you might have found a bottled-in-bond rendition, at 100-proof, and bearing a 6-year age statement. The mash bill for Very Old Barton is a corn-heavy 75% corn, 15% rye, and 10% malted barley.
Eye: Medium copper. Somewhat translucent with some thin legs in a Glencairn glass.
Nose: Caramel and butterscotch are on the front, with some light citrus and spic prevalent.
Palate: Corn and butterscotch along with creamy bananas foster.
Finish: Medium-long with spiced fruit and a dry woodsy afterglow.
Overall: I said this in the Under $20 Bargain Shelf review, this is one that absolutely holds its own again more expensive rivals. If you’re looking for something your grandfather or great-grandfather would have drank, this is a nicely balanced, traditional bourbon. I’d love to see an age statement come back, but with bourbon in boom times, I think I’ll need to search out hideaways and dusty bottles to be rewarded. The Barton Distillery in Bardstown, KY is on my tour list to check out their other fine products. I hear a Barton Bourbon Cream product – similar to Buffalo Trace’s Bourbon Cream – is only available there!