Age: 12 years
Nose: Allspice, black pepper butterscotch, toffee, honey, leather, musty oak, tobacco, mocha, ginger, dark fruit, vanilla
Taste: Astringent/Thin mouthfeel. Charred oak, tobacco, leather, banana, prune, molasses, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, plum/raisin, oak tannins.
Finish: Medium length. Underlying spice for the entire length of the finish consisting of brown sugar, cinnamon, and clove. The spice is what is most prominent during the finish as the age kills off a good bit of the sweetness, leading spice to oak tannins, to dark fruit, back to the spice.
To be honest, the finish is somewhat lacking in overall depth and complexity, but the length of time the spice sticks around is the only reason I would give the finish a good score. If you do not enjoy oaky or tannic bourbons, this may not be for you. The slight dark fruit and sweet vanilla fade off quickly and it jumps to bitter/tannic oak, which I love.
Overall: For something that retails around $55-$65, price alone makes this a win. I give it a 10/10 on pricing for Barton keeping it fair and pricing within everyone’s reach. Where this loses some points is finish and overall flavor. At 96.6 proof, you never want to hear “add a drop or two of water for it to open up.” But honestly, add a drop or two of water and it opens up a lot.
If you don’t enjoy the tannic bitterness of oaky bourbons, drops of water will take this up about 6 notches for you. Hell, I enjoy it and a few drops of water make it enjoyable for me, but it brings out that rich dark fruit and banana we all know and love from Barton. The fruity sweetness you get with some water changes the profile for the good here, in my opinion, but try it for yourself and let me know which you prefer!
Value Rating: 10/10