It is always fun to find something while bourbon hunting that is unexpected, and even more so given that it is fall when most bourbon producers put out their ultra aged and otherwise really good stuff. When I was shopping on the Hokus Pokus app on my iPhone yesterday, I noticed that they had a Calumet Farms 14 Year Old Bourbon available. What is unusual about that is that Hokus does not put extremely limited release bourbons or even limited quantity store picks on the app; you have to go in store to purchase those and quantities are limited to one or two bottles per customer, to prevent hoarding. So, after reading a few reviews, I decided it was worth the $100 price tag, given its age and the fact that it is not chill filtered. But, after doing some detective work, this bourbon comes from an extremely great provenance, that, if this had been released by the distillery, it would be trading on the secondary market at two or three times the price. Yes, Calumet Farms is a non-distiller producer that sources their bourbon from an undisclosed source. But what if we can determine the source?
So, the labels tell us a couple of things. First, this is not Heaven Hill bourbon; the labels make a big deal of the rack on which the bourbon was aged, whereas at Heaven Hill they regularly rotate barrels for consistency. The label states that this was distilled and aged in Northern Kentucky, but which really says nothing as that is where all of the major distilleries are located, as the Ohio river was key to the bourbon trade. But, on the front label, we have a mash bill disclosure – 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. A quick search on Google reveals that this is the mashbill for 1792 Bourbon from the 1792 Barton Distillery, which is the sister distillery to Buffalo Trace and owned by Sazerac of New Orleans.
So, what we have here is a 14 year old Sazerac company high rye bourbon that is non-chill filtered, at at healthy 96.2 proof, from a small batch of 19 barrels at $100 a bottle.
Whoa. If this tastes as good as it’s provenance, this is an incredible find.
On the swirl are big big legs. Deep amber turning to burnt orange in color. Beautiful. On the nose, very traditional bourbon notes with oak, herbal notes, and brown sugar. On the palate, deep caramelized sugar, vanilla, mint, dark herbal tea, and cinnamon toast, with an incredible syrupy mouthfeel despite being proofed down. On the finish herbal tea mixes with dark fruits and lingers for a very long time. Delicious. This is really a top shelf and excellent bourbon that is as good as its price point.
For those that are fans of Sazerac’s other high rye bourbons, such as Blanton’s, Elmer T. Lee, and Rock Hill Farms, this bourbon has a very similar taste combined with an excellent age and mouthfeel. It seems pretty available, at least where I am, although there are only probably 5,000 bottles produced from these 19 barrels.
I am definitely glad to have this bottle on my bar. And, given that Christmas is around the corner, this would be a great bottle to give as a gift to a serious bourbon fan.