Whisky Advocate

Review: Ridgemont Reserve 1792 bourbon

February 26th, 2010

Ridgemont Reserve, 8 year old, 46.85%, $30
The last time I reviewed this whiskey was back in 2004, and this new bottling is an improvement. It’s beefier, thicker, and richer, with a good dose of rye spice. Very nice! Good balance of flavors on the nose and palate, with caramel custard, bright fruit (Clementine, golden raisin orange marmalade), a peppering of spice (fresh mint, warming cinnamon, dried vanilla), green tea, a hint of toasted marshmallow, and a pleasing dried oak, tobacco-tinged finish. Lots of character!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

64 Responses to “Review: Ridgemont Reserve 1792 bourbon”

  1. Red_Arremer says:

    It says “barrel select” on the bottle. Is it a single barrel bourbon?

  2. Rick Duff says:

    Anyone know if the mash-bill is the same as for Very Old Barton? Perhaps this is the best barrels of VOB?

    • John Hansell says:

      Not sure of mash bills, Rick. I’ll see if I can find out.

    • John Hansell says:

      Rick, Master Distiller Greg Davis wouldn’t reveal the mash bill, but did tell me that it’s one of the highest rye bourbon mash bills. This explains why I am getting so much rye influence in this whiskey.

      • Rick Duff says:

        John, any chance you could ask about this being the same mash bill as Very Old Barton? I love VOB.. best bourbon for the price. My brother-in-law especially loves it.. and if this is the same mash bill.. so basically same stuff.. but the best of the barrels, I’ll get some for him.
        Thanks!

  3. JMF says:

    I’m undera foot of snow in Manhattan. I could use a bottle of that to keep warm…

    • Mark Davis says:

      I too am snowed in in NYC. I can tell you that bourbon works very well for this blizzard. I woudl recommend stopping when calling your exes seems like a good idea.

    • John Hansell says:

      Yeah, me too. I spent most of the morning snow blowing and shoveling my 1,200 ft. driveway and sidewalks. Definitely having a whisky (or whiskey) later today.

  4. Texas says:

    Sounds very tasty. I will have to add that to my list. I can get it here for $20 a bottle..$40 for the 1.75L

  5. Shaun Farrier says:

    Thanks John,

    I was wondering what to pick up on my way home from work tonight. Now I know.

    Shaun

  6. Vince says:

    John:

    I had a bottle of 1792 about 2 years ago and while I liked it it didnt bowl me over. Based on your review I am going to re-visit it. It appears to have improved with the new bottling.

    Thanks

  7. Mike says:

    Why is it called 1792?

  8. Seth Nadel says:

    This really is a good bourbon for the price. The only better bourbon in the price range is Evan Williams Single Barrel.

    • Texas says:

      I do love the EWSB (the 99 a bit more than the 00). Recently I had a very good bottle of Eagle Rare 10 year SB that is also in the range (mid $20’s) that I liked even better than the EWSB. There are just so many darn good bourbons and ryes from $18-$30

      • Seth Nadel says:

        Personally, I found the ’09 to have more rye in it. I switch them up depending on my mood. Eagle Rare is also one of my favorites. Rittenhouse 100 proof is probably the best rye for the money, but it’s almost impossible to get. It seems like everyone knows a value when they taste it.

        • Texas says:

          The Rittenhouse 100 is readily available here in the Houston area for $23 a bottle. I have not had it though. I love WT Rye and Russell’s Reserve Rye though.

          My favorite Rye is the High West Rendezvous…but sadly that is not available at all here..not even orderable through the store (an individual can’t ship anything into the state).

          • Seth Nadel says:

            Russell’s Reserve Rye is great. It reminds me of the Sazerac 6yr Rye, but the Sazerac is a little less. Unfortunately, it’s another hard rye to get.

          • Mark Davis says:

            Russell’s reserve is indeed amazing. EWSB is also amazing. is this my best option for a $18-$30 bottle of bourbon that is rye heavy? I am looking to l fill out my collection with a bourbon that is has a lot of rye and therefore less grain.

          • Seth Nadel says:

            It has been a while since I’ve had them, but Eagle Rare and Elmer T Lee always had a lot of rye in it.

          • Vince says:

            Mark

            Try Old Grandad 114. It is high in Rye content and for a price in the low $20’s I think it is a spectacular Bourbon

            Vince

    • Rick Duff says:

      I’m a big fan of Heaven Hill’s Elijah Craig 12 year old for around $20.

      • Seth Nadel says:

        Heaven Hill is a great bourbon. A lot of people get turned off because of it’s low price. There is no age statement on the bottle anymore, but I still think it’s great.

        • sam k says:

          I’m on board with both of you…Elijah Craig is a great pour, and Evan Williams, at $8.99 on sale here in PA is unbeatable as an everyday bourbon. Heaven Hill has my vote as the distillery most in touch with their price/quality ratio!

  9. I tried this about a year ago and was pleasantly surprised. The crowd at the party I brought it to agreed! Smooth & tasty.

  10. Alex says:

    I recently had this at a tasting and was pleasantly surprised – the rye spice John mentions was evident to me as well – and while I usually am not a huge bourbon fan, this is on my acquisition list.

  11. sam k says:

    I’m on board with Vince on this one. I had a bottle a few years back. It was good, not great, but didn’t warrant another purchase from my point of view.

    Thanks for hitting my “refresh” button, John!

  12. lawschooldrunk says:

    This gets my vote for one of the nicest bottles around, visually. And, I get this bottle for $19.99!

  13. sam k says:

    What did you rate it last time around, John?

    • John Hansell says:

      In late 2004 I rated it an 84. I rated it one time before that–my first rating (when it was called Ridgewood Reserve)–and it was only a 78 (really woody). So, you see that it has been improving nicely over the past decade.

  14. Mark says:

    Anyone know the percentage of rye in this one? I’m interested in developing a list of bourbons with relatively high percentages of rye. For instance, Bulleit has, I think, 39% and I can drink that with pleasure because it provides enough rye spice to cut the sweet elements for me. (I would appreciate any help in developing such a list.)

    The only bourbon I own is Basil Hayden. I’ve had, though, multiple others that seemed to have enough rye to make a still rich, but spicy nectar. I’d like to bring on more bourbons that fit that bill. (I respect that Maker’s Mark is good bourbon, but I’ve always found it too sweet for me; just personal palate, you know?)

    I very much look forward to trying this Ridgemont Reserve 1792.

    • Texas says:

      AFAIK the Wild Turkey bourbons have some of the higher rye contents. The standard WT 101 get overlooked by many because it isn’t small batch, but it is might good bourbon. Cut it with a tad bit of cold water and it’s almost like drinking a glass Southern sweet tea except with a heck of a nice spicy rye kick at the end. WT Rye 101 and Russell’s Reserve ryes and fantastic as well.

      BTW I agree on Maker’s Mark..just can’t drink it. If you want a wheated bourbon that is outstanding but not excessively sweet try the Old Weller Antique 107.

      • Mark Davis says:

        Another ditto on maker’s mark. It’s smooth and sweet. at the risk of sounding like a snob I want to be challenged a little more.

        Wild turkey is nice because you can frequently find it at even a poorly stocked bar and it’s very nice. I wasn’t thrilled with WT rye 101.

      • Vince says:

        I too am not a big Makers Mark fan and I couldnt agree more regarding the OWA 107, exceptional wheated bourbon, especially for the price

      • Mark says:

        Gentlemen, thank you for the recommendations. I look forward to the exploration.

        Texas, I had that Old Weller Antique 107 last Saturday, after a needed brunch of comfort food. I really enjoyed it. I also have enjoyed WT expressions, in no small measure because I’ve enjoyed talking about them with Jimmy Russell so much. I’d kind of like to be a bourbon drinker just because l like that man.

        Scott, thanks for the correction of the Bulleit percentage, plus the Four Roses connection. I’ll be exploring Four Roses options quite soon. Thanks for including the small batch recommendation, Vince.

        Seth, the Bernheim does sound promising; I’ll check it out. Again, to all, thanks.

    • Scott says:

      The Bulleit bourbon is 35% rye making it tied for the highest rye content in a bourbon with 1/2 the bourbons from Four Roses (grain bill 60% corn 35% rye 5% malted barley if I remember right). Which hints at which distillery makes Bulleit bourbon for anyone that was wondering.

    • Vince says:

      Mark

      Four Roses Small Batch is another bourbon that has a nice rye content

    • Aaron says:

      Mark,

      It was mentioned in a different thread, but the Elijah Craig 12 Year has a noticeable rye content and it has a good balance between the “sweeter” bourbon qualities and the rye spiciness. I think it has more complexity than the Bulleit. Just in case you needed another to add to the list….

  15. Louis says:

    As I have sampled the 1792 recently, I can concur with John’s review. In fact, this style of bourbon can also be a substitute for sherried single malt scotches, often at a much lower cost. Other bourbons with a similar profile include Rowans Creek, and Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit.

    Slainte.

    Louis

  16. EMalt says:

    sam k says:
    February 26, 2010 at 11:37 am

    What did you rate it last time around, John?

    Hi Sam, see Buyer’s guide for previous ratings. I’m not sure if it get’s updated with every review?

    Grtz,
    EMalt

  17. JWC says:

    quite a few people have been telling me to check out this bourbon – i guess it’s time.

  18. JWC says:

    wow – did i miss something? when did the moderation of the comments start? what triggered it? i don’t remember anything and i visit this site and wdjk almost daily.

    • John Hansell says:

      Not sure why that happened JWC. It thinks you are someone else. Only first time commenters are moderated, to cut down on spam. Did you change your email address?

      • JWC says:

        i use 2 email accounts for forums and blogs – i may have inserted a “new” one. changed it the other one to see if i get the “waiting for moderation” post (of course, changing it to the “original” one may subject me to the same treatment LOL!).

        john, i know you have a LOT of whisk(e)y to review (you poor poor soul) but is there a possibility that, as with the 1792 ridgemont reserve, you revisit other less expensive bourbon? i mention bourbon bc 1) i am tending to gravitate toward it more and more and 2) it is more likely that we will see good ratings (a good dram) from inexpensive bourbon vs. scotch.

  19. NLB says:

    Caramel custard, orange marmalade, toasting marshmallow??? Come on, where do these so-called experts come up with this stuff? I remember reading an interview between Jimmy Russell and David Beam,, and they were asked about all the “flavors” the alleged afficianados spew about. Jimmy Russell looked at Beam and said, “I don’t know about you guys, but we don’t put any of that crap in our Bourbon.”
    So I wish these people would quit trying to make something out of what’s not there. If that “crap” were in it, you can’t legally call it Bourbon.

    • John Hansell says:

      I love you too…

      How would you suggest I describe a whiskey? Like Texas says below, “It tastes good” really doesn’t provide much guidance, without a description of how the whiskey tastes. Just saying that I think a particular chocolate cake tastes good would be bad guidance if you hate chocolate cake to begin with.

      Or is it that you would simply prefer I (and other reviewers) don’t review whiskey at all, because you see no value in it?

    • Seth Nadel says:

      I’m not saying I taste everything that the “experts” do, but I do taste a lot of the flavors. Personally, I don’t think it’s right to say none of those qualities exist. Some people are just better at picking up the nuances.

    • Mark Davis says:

      Hello fellow anonymous Internet user.

      I am going to assume we both agree that we agree that whiskeys of the same type taste different. Describing these subtle differences are difficult. The way people ended up doing this is comparing subtle taste notes to other things most people have tasted.

      This does sound a little silly and pretentious, but I haven’t heard of a better way to do this. Other people criticise grading spirits 0-100 as if there is some sort of objective perfection. Do you have any new ways to describe whiskey that could replace or augment current methods?

    • Texas says:

      What are the reviewers supposed to say..it tastes good? I have read descriptions that were just over the top, but John has never written one like that, at least one I have read. Even my wife, who has never read a single whisky review has used terms similar to that when describing Springbank.

    • Mark says:

      NLB, I think others have responded well to your interestingly dogmatic comment, but it seemed worth making three additional comments.

      First, of course those things aren’t “in there.” No one I’ve encountered thinks those things are in there. To dismiss whiskey descriptions for that reason is missing the point — by a wide margin. Also, while I wasn’t present at the time, Jimmy Russell sometimes speaks with a twinkle in his eye. He’s talked to me about qualities in his whiskeys.

      Second, a suggestion: Take three different whiskeys that are supposed to be good and pour small portions into three tulip shaped glasses or white wine glasses. Do this in a space that will let you concentrate (not a loud bar, for instance, or a smoky, smelly room) and at a time when you don’t have a cold or are suffering from allergies. Then, spend several minutes just smelling the whiskey in each glass, with your nose an inch or so above the rim. Take them in turn, smelling the first for minutes, then take a sip, letting the liquid disappear on your tongue (no big swallow). Think about what the whiskey is like. Smell it some more. Think about what it’s like. Take another sip, and so on. There won’t be any actual vanilla in there, but you might on reflection smell (and even taste) a vanilla-like quality in the whiskey. Think about the variety of other qualities that give the whiskeys their individual characters, the qualities that distinguish them from each other.

      I’ll make the rather strong claim that for a normal adult human who is (a) open to trying/liking whiskey and (b) going into the tasting with an open mind, that person will, over the course of smelling and sipping and smelling and sipping some more, distinguish a variety of qualities in the way the whiskeys smell and taste.

      Third, for someone who does that A LOT, as part of his or her work, the ability to distinguish qualities in the whiskey becomes fairly fine-grained. I don’t always trust them. I sometimes think biases are in evidence. But look: I’ve never had any sense that such was the case with John; in fact, the evidence is against that being the case.

      If you follow the suggestion above, I think you’ll at least realize that different whiskeys have quite distinct flavors. If you then imagine someone who tastes A LOT of whisk(e)ys, it shouldn’t be a problem to see that they can sincerely report an impressive range of qualities within a whisk(e)y. Moreover, there need be no claim to radical objectivity or completeness in order for the report/review to be honest, and within a range of normal tastes, reliable.

  20. JWC says:

    NLB, i also read about that discussion between Jimmy Russell and David Beam. However, if one has to describe a taste of an item (be it whiskey or something else) to others who have not tasted, how does one do it? One does it by comparing to tastes that others are familiar with. Many people use toffee, noughat, maple syrup, etc., to describe whiskey. Also, your reference to “so-called experts” seems to be aimed at John since your take offense at his description of the 1792 RR bourbon. Many people in the industry and fans consider John an expert – I guess you know better than them.

    Tell you what, why don’t you tell us how you would inform others how a bourbon tastes? Since it appears that you believe that “crap” that isn’t put in can’t be used to describe the taste, I guess your tasting notes would be along the lines of: ” tastes kinda like corn and some [rye/wheat] soaked in water for a while and then aged in a burnt oak barrel. YUMMMY! Go git you some!” or “tastes kinda like corn and some [rye/wheat] soaked in water for a while and then aged in a burnt oak barrel. YUCKY! Don’t waste your money on this one!” I guess the only differences in your taste reviews for bourbon would be whether it was rye and/or wheat that is in with the corn and whether or not you thought it tasted good or not.

    If you want to see pretentious, over the top reviews, check out any wine reviews – they try to outdo each other.

  21. Red_Arremer says:

    NLB,

    As there is in any practice of discerning reporting and discussing personal experiences there is an offensive mystical element in whisky appreciation. The always possible suspicion or accusation “he doesn’t really taste all that” attests to this… as does the always ready defense “how do you know what I taste?”

    This element in whisky appreciation, which taken in isolation may as well be pure pretetionousness, is only legitimated by the active engagement of others who are intrested in knowing about a person’s whisky experience. Conversely an interest in knowing about someone else’s whisky experience calls for them to move in this element.

    If a community of people have a sustained interest in knowing about eachother’s experiences, then they all move in this element and the element becomes transparent. Seemingly replaced by a common sense situation– shared interest in something and the attempt to discuss it– the mystical element remains visible only in the form of simple uncertainties and disagreements. These simple uncertanties and disagreements are generally inoffensive and not apparently pretentious.

    You can either be interested in other people’s whisky experiences and welcome their interest in yours or not… And if you don’t, then we’ll all just seem pretentious to you.

    I’ll bet that didn’t help, NLB, much but I feel better when I try ;)

  22. jbart says:

    Admittedly I once sort of held the view of NLB, though I like to think I kept it to myself. Over time, however, my views have changed dramatically. Let me explain.

    I usually don’t “taste” or smell most of the flavors that a reviewer finds in a whisky review. The same is true of wines. But as a longtime consumer of whisky and wine reviews, I nevertheless find them of great value.

    Why? Simple. Some of the things a reviewer tastes or smells, I do too. And those descriptions give me a clue as to whether I will like a certain whisky or a wine. That’s very important because I don’t want to shell out big bucks for something I probably won’t like.

    Take wine. When I hear a red wine hints of leather, cedar or tobacco, I probably won’t like it that much. I prefer fruiter tasting or smelling wines, so descriptive words such as blackberry or berry are more likely to appeal to me. On the other hand, “fruit-bomb” sounds too fruity for me. (I could give many other examples).

    When it comes to whisky, I can’t taste all of what John seems to. Far from it. But by getting to know his terms and how he describes a whisky that I have also tasted, I get to know what his descriptive words mean. It helps me to figure out how much I will like future bottlings of whisky.

    For example, if John describes a whisky as spicy (cloves, allspice, cinnamon), that’s something I like.

    Or another example of a whisky I am now drinking, Compass Box Asyla. In a review the whisky is described as the following:

    “Gold color. Floral aromas balanced with a gentle vanilla sweetness, and soft fruit. Soft, rounded body. The palate delivers what the aroma promises in a very clean and balanced way. Pleasing finish.”

    In my own experience drinking Asyla, I can easily detect the “gentle vanilla sweetness.”

    The whisky is also “soft and round,” which I like in whisky more than I do in wine.

    And the whisky is “very clean and balanced” with a “pleasing finish.”

    Granted, some of John’s reviews leave me with far less clue. Yet I chalk that up to his far greater expertise and experience tasting whiskys and to perhaps our different tastebuds.

    Even still, I find John a valuable resource in determining which whiskys to buy. I have yet to dislike a whisky that he rated very highly (88 or above in my eyes).

  23. Vince says:

    John
    I picked up a bottle of 1792 and sipped on it last night. I totally agree with your review. As mentioned before I had tried it about 2 years ago and I definitely taste an improvement. I compared it against an AAA 10 year old and I preferred the 1792.
    Nice review and thanks for making me re-visit this fine bourbon

    • Red_Arremer says:

      But the real thing is between four roses small batch and ridgemont, which would you take?

      • Vince says:

        That’s a tough one Red. My first instinct is to say Four Roses Small Batch, but I would like the option of changing my opinion after I have had a little more of the 1792. I think both are excellent and both are also great values.

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