Orphan Barrel Forged Oak Review

This is a 15 year expression from Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series. This particular expression was distilled at Heaven Hill, and it’s bottled at 45% ABV.

Nose: Very sweet at first with big waves of french vanilla, before some polyurethane arises alongside cinnamon sticks, musty cardboard, pepper, and a hint of rye bread.

Palate: Oak heavy with burnt vanilla – oak reminds me heavily of chewing on a pencil for some reason. Peppery and muddled all around.

Finish: Dries out and turns tart and woody as all the sweet notes fade quickly.

Rating: 80/100 – My least favorite of the Orphan Barrel series to date. Typically I find them fairly good, but this one is missing cohesion.

Value for the money: These retail around $65, and I’d pass based on quality.

Orphan Barrel Old Blowhard Review

This was the second release from Diageo’s Oprhan Barrel program, and it’s a 26 year Old Bernheim distilled bourbon bottled at 45.35% ABV.

Nose: Very nice – heavy lemon juice notes cutting through damp hickory chips, burnt vanilla, and creme brulee. Some fresh pine needle notes develop after a few minutes.

Palate: Bold candied orange notes up front followed by a bitter, smoked oak with toasted marshmallows, brown sugar, and a bit of a kick from black pepper.

Finish: Citrus lingers alongside old, weathered oak that’s turned only slightly bitter (surprising for the age).

Rating: 90/100 – One of the best Orphan Barrel bottles in my mind – impressive that’s it’s not a bitter oak fest given the 26 year age statement.

Value for the money: It’s been a couple years since this came out, and I believe it retailed between $150-$200. I would purchase a bottle around the $150 mark if it was still available most likely. Secondary prices have gone above $400 for this one, and with all secondary prices in my mind, it’s not worth it on there.

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 20 Year Review

This is a 20 year bourbon that was bottled as part of Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series. It is from Old Bernheim distillate and is bottled at 45% ABV.

Nose: Quite sweet with strong citrus notes – lemon pledge and orange marmalade. Very strong brown sugar notes with the oak not as heavy as I was expecting for a 20 year bourbon – the citrus notes really help cut the oak influence.

Palate: Rich grain mash with oak still seeming quite young to me. Subtle baking spices and lemon juice.

Finish: Fades quickly leaving bitter oak and candied oranges.

Rating: 89/100 – I was pleasantly surprised with this one. For as much hate as the OB line can get, I have been fairly impressed with most of their offerings.

Value for the money: This retailed for around $85 which I think is a fair price for a 20 year bourbon of this quality.

Orphan Barrel The Gifted Horse Review

This is a newer expression from Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series that is sadly another “Oops all berries!” marketing style expression. It’s a blend of 51% four year MGP bourbon, 10.5% four year MGP corn whisky, and 38.5% seventeen year Heaven Hill bourbon. It’s bottled at 57.5% ABV.

Nose: Loads of cinnamon spices and apples/bananas with burnt oak and cookie dough. In a way, reminds me of older WT noses without the rye.

Palate: Vanilla with heavy fresh corn notes, strong oak, and a lot of spice. Comes off quite hot and a bit unbalanced.

Finish: Turns oddly bitter and astringent before disappearing in a flash.

Rating: 79/100 – My least favorite Orphan Barrel to date. The nose was quite nice actually, but it was all downhill from there. Maybe they should’ve accidentally discarded all these accidentally mixed barrels.

Value for the money: I think this retails around $50 which is an easy pass as pretty much anything else you buy at that price will be better.