Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Sazerac Company, Inc
Distillery: Barton 1792 Distillery
Release Date: Summer 2023 (Annual Release)
Age: NAS (Aged at least 4 years per TTB regulations)
MSRP: $50 (2023)
When it was introduced in 2015, Sweet Wheat was the first time Barton has released a wheated 1792 Bourbon. Typically, a bourbon’s secondary grain is rye, but a smaller percentage of bourbon producers use wheat instead. The standard 1792 expression is considered “high rye” since it is thought to use more rye as its secondary grain than traditional bourbon mashbills. Sweet Wheat was the first in the series of new expressions of 1792, which also include 1792 Port Finish, 1792 Single Barrel, 1792 Full Proof, 1792 High Rye, 1792 Bottled in Bond, and 1792 Aged 12 Years.
A nicely balanced aroma is centered around sweet candied nuts and spicy oak, which rest atop a base of seasoned oak. Its overall richness helps make an immediate positive impression. A layer of caramel sweetness adds depth and is enhanced by light floral and earthy notes. Though not overly complex, what it offers is effective and very well received.
The light to slightly medium bodied palate is immediately apparent. It’s thinner than expected and works hard to present its flavors with adequate intensity. What it lacks in delivery it makes up for in an array of sweet flavors that are easy to like. Warm caramel, vanilla sugar cookie, and custard pudding make its sugary base a delight for those with a sweet tooth. The palate stays within a narrow band of flavors, coalescing into a singular front. Because of its overall sweetness, most will find it approachable and satisfying, staying far away from offensive.
A gentle transition to light spice and soft seasoned oak provides a welcome contrast to the bourbon’s sugary palate - though it doesn’t last long. Notes of fried dough and crinkle cookie soon swoop in, providing a slight variation to the palate’s particular brand of sweetness. A layer of light leather rounds things out, concluding with a slightly dry, but enjoyable finish. Thanks to its contrasting element, the finish offers slightly more complexity than the palate, but both are satisfying in their own way.
The ever-expanding wheat category of bourbon has shown no signs of fading. When 1792 Sweet Wheat was introduced in 2015, wheated bourbons were just ramping up in popularity. W.L. Weller and Maker’s Mark bourbons controlled the wheated market, but producers began to see an opening in the market. Heaven Hill had introduced Larceny a few years prior which helped start the steady flow of readily available wheat-based bourbons that continues to this day.
When 1792 Sweet Wheat was introduced, Barton stated that it contained 8 year old bourbon, but it is unknown if that is still the case. Oak certainly still plays a role in Sweet Wheat’s flavor profile, but by no means does it taste like a bourbon that has aged a considerable amount of time. Instead, the bourbon has a renewed commitment to its name. Where the Sweet Wheat always leaned sweet, this current iteration truly takes it to heart. There are plenty of sweet bourbons on the market, yet this still stands due to its depth of sweetness. Forgoing fruit-based sweetness altogether, the bourbon stays within a narrow band of warm caramel, vanilla sugar cookie, custard pudding, and notes of fried dough with cocoa powder from a crinkle cookie standing out on its finish. A thin mouthfeel and low 90 proof combine to make this an easy, if not too easy of a sipper. The creamy mouthfeel it once offered is sorely missed, but just enough complexity in its sweet notes helps make this bourbon stand out just enough where it counts.
With its under 100 proof point and thin mouthfeel, it's easy to discount this bourbon straight out of the gate. Asking $50 for such bourbon seems like a tall order, yet the bourbon’s wealth of differentiating sweet notes, and contrasting oak and leathery notes in its finish, help pull this bourbon up. If the bourbon’s flavor profile wasn’t so effective, its $50 price tag would be a gross oversell. Slightly upping its price in 8 years and offering a better product in return is a fair tradeoff, though paying anything more than its MSRP would move it into a bad value category.
Living up to its name, 1792 Sweet Wheat is indeed sweet, and offers it with ample depth and range.
Where 1792 Sweet Wheat has shown the most improvement is being able to break away from the average territory, and develop the sweet side that its label suggests it has. At a sacrifice of the creamy mouthfeel present in its original release, it has given way to a much thinner one but one with more depth in its sweetness. It's a very worthwhile tradeoff, as this bourbon's best attribute is its sweetness. Being able to offer differentiating layers of sweetness thanks to distinct tasting notes helps 1792 Sweet Wheat stand out more than ever.