Review: Orphan Barrel Barterhouse 20 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

Virgin Charred Oak; 20 Yrs
~86% Corn, 6% Rye, 8% Malted Barley
Distiller New Bernheim (Heaven Hill - Louisville, Kentucky)

This bourbon is part of Diageo’s “orphan barrel” series, where a number of “orphan” barrels have been put together for a number of bourbon releases ranging in age from 15-26 years old from different distilleries. Of course, barrels aren’t just “lost” but the range has released a number of decent whiskies. This whisky, despite remarks trying to claim some link to Stitzel Weller (where the famous Pappy Van Winkle bourbons were distilled), was produced at the Bernheim distillery. This whisky is aged for 20 years, which is a very long time for a bourbon, which is typically in the range of 5 years – these whiskies are both very hard to find and very expensive.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Nose: Oily and fruity, with significant menthol notes coming right off the nose. Corn husks, maple, dried apricot, and spices – nutmeg, leather, pralines, coconut, buttercream, cherries, strawberries, wood smoke – this nose develops! Very pleasant, lightly sweet. Creamy and nutty, with maple and oak coming as it opens up.

Taste: Dried cherries, leather, and some oily corn held tight by some tannins although it isn’t very oaky all things considered. The palate is long, with the tastes taking their time to develop well. Overall, very nice – oily too in texture and pleasing in flavour – but not spectacular. Not as rich on the palate as the nose.

Finish: Barrel char, sweet corn, vanilla – slightly sour and tannic. Earthy oak does take its time, and the tannins fade and you’re left with something quite nice. However, the feel is still a bit puckered from the tannins.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $95.