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

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.

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

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 very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, 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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