Early last year I was inspired by a post on Chuck Cowdery’s blog to revisit this limited-distribution budget-priced bourbon. I had purchased a bottle in Kentucky in Summer 2002 and loved it.
My 2008 bottles did not disappoint. I ordered a few from Binny’s in Chicago, where it was then priced at $11.99/bottle (it has since risen to $12.99, still a steal, even when you add shipping costs). I just finished a second bottle and am delighted that I still have one in the archive. (I believe Very Old Barton is distributed only in the Midwest. Certainly not in California. So online ordering is your best bet.)
Note that we’re talking about the 100 proof version. Very Old Barton is also bottled at strengths of 80, 86 and 90 proof, none of which I’ve tried. The lower-proof versions aren’t designated “Bottled in Bond”, a vanishing and somewhat restrictive category that essentially states the whiskey comes from a single “vintage” and is 50% alcohol by volume (100 proof). I’ve heard that the 100 proof version will lose its BIB status sometime soon, but Chuck states in the post linked above that the flavor profile should not change, at least in the short term.
Anyway, this bourbon is beautiful. Full-flavored without being a monster – you could still mix it if you like. VOB BIB’s unique characteristics are of banana and mint, though these flavors don’t dominate. Maybe a tiny bit of butter, though the texture is overall dry. You can taste the barrel influence with oak and vanilla, though again, neither dominates. The finish doesn’t go on forever, but that’s fine – no reason that you need to be still drinking your bourbon an hour after you’ve swallowed it.
I won’t go on, either. At this price, there’s no reason you shouldn’t just buy a bottle and try it yourself. If I owned a bar, this would be my well bourbon.
Keep an eye out for the “Bottled in Bond” designation above the brand name. Again, that’s not necessarily an indication of quality – I’m just curious whether it has been deprecated. The company’s web site shows a label where that’s replaced with just “Hand Crafted” on the 100 proof bottle – let me know in the comments which label you find.
- Chuck Cowdery’s April 2008 post mentioning Very Old Barton Bottled in Bond 100 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Binny’s listing for this whiskey
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