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Very Old Barton, Bourbon Whiskey, 43% ABV

 

Sadly I’ve not been able to replace my now-deceased bottle of JTS Brown, but I do have another bottom shelf all-star ready to step into the gap. Of note, this is the 86 proof version.

Nose: I know it’s got “Very Old” in the name, but the nose is decidedly younger — sweet corn a la corn on the cob from a BBQ joint dominates, with backup notes of vanilla and apple barely visible on the periphery.

Palate: Surprisingly and decidedly more mature than the nose. The sweet corn flavors of the nose remain preeminent, but there’s a touch of orange peel and light cinnamon-sugar kicking around in here. I’ve read some reviews that detect oak and baking spices, but my Neanderthal senses didn’t pick any of that up. Perhaps after it’s had more time to open up I’ll find some. Still, very competent and tasty for a $13 bottle. It shows up in a cocktail, and has more backbone than a HH Quality House or Old Crow. Not at all thin in the mouthfeel.

Finish: Short, but longer than any $13 bottle has a right to be. The cinnamon-sugar dials it up, and there’s a bit of pop that every 80 proof bourbon I’ve ever tried lacks. If you’re a baseball fan familiar with the concept of the Mendoza Line, I’m gonna start calling 86 proof the Lagavulin Line — there’s some quality that’s intangible but detectable that getting to and above 86 proof provides.

Summary: While another $3 gives you the best-in-class EW BiB and JTS Brown BiB, this is a heck of a bottom shelf all-star that’s light years ahead of the $9-$10 crowd of Old Crow and EW green label, to say nothing of the Virginia Aristocrats of the world. I’d compare it very equitably to Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star. While it’s worth the extra $3 to jump to the Heaven Hill BiB duo if you’re gonna sip it as much as mix it, this is a worthy alternative that’s an elite mixer.

 

Image courtesy of Jon who also writes on Low Class & High Proof.

 

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