Rhetoric Bourbon, 20yo, 45% – Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series

Diageo’s has been releasing ‘Orphan Barrels‘ for about a year now. It’s a series of premium bourbons from different distilleries, and sometimes even a blend from various places. They’re priced at a relative premium in America. When they would come to Europe they’d be far from affordable, most likely. Generally when a $ 90 comes across the ocean, it’s costing close to € 200 nowadays.

Rhetoric is from Bernheim distillery and apparently showcases their classic flavor profile. I don’t have much experience with Bernheim and therefore don’t have a clue what that means.

The Orphan Barrels is called that because the barrels for these releases were forgotten, or so they say. I highly doubt that in this day and age many barrels are left unindexed, and actually forgotten. I’d say the warehouse managers have been saving these for a special project for a couple years now. That’s fine too, and I understand ‘forgotten’ sounds more quaint and interesting.

In the what matters is the juice that’s in the bottle. I got this from a bottle-share that DSA did when he was stateside a couple of weeks ago. There’s more stuff coming soon, varying from Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, some sherry finished bourbon and something called Barrell. I still have to read up on those, but that’s in the pipeline.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
The nose is absolutely huge with sweet corn and oak. Very sweet with sweet caramel and popcorn. There’s a thing layer of baking spices, clove and nutmeg mostly. Lots of oak, but not bitter at all (surprising for a 20 year old bourbon). Very deep and rich.

Sip:
The palate is smooth, rich and sweet. Here there’s a tinge of bitterness with mountains of timber. Warming but light. Clove, orange, apple.

Swallow:
The finish is very soft and gentle again. Again, lots of oak and a warming feeling. It’s not very long.

Not necessarily a strange whiskey, but one that’s hard to form an opinion on. Mostly because for someone who likes to ‘taste’ a whiskey, this isn’t all that complex or captivating. On the other hand, when you’re just in for a drink and want to simply enjoy a dram without any complication, this is an ace whiskey. It’s highly drinkable, maybe dangerously so. It’s also ridiculously tasty, but there’s just not that much to discover.

I guess that’s where the problem is. If there’s not that much to discover, I can simply knock back a couple of regular Bernheims, or any other standard bourbon for about a quarter of the investment. But still, if I’d bought this at the full price, I wouldn’t be too disappointed.

Rhetoric bourbon whiskey, 45%, Diageo’s Orphan Barrels. Sold out in most shops.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm a web developer at Emakina. I'm highly interested in booze, with a focus on whisk(e)y. I like to listen to loads of music and read quite some books. I'm married to Anneke, have a daughter Ot, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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6 Responses to Rhetoric Bourbon, 20yo, 45% – Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series

  1. Bas says:

    Old Blowhard was the first one

  2. Pingback: One Eight Sherry Finished Bourbon, 52.5% | Malt Fascination

  3. Lizzie says:

    So…where can I purchase Rhetoric??? I have yet to find it in a liquor store and I’ve looked! I’ve tried stores in NC, VA, DC, MN, TN, and PA. Help!

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