Orphan Barrel: Entrapment

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

Yes, I know that the name of the site is BourbonGuy but from the beginning, I've had a focus on North American whiskey, which includes bourbon, rye and yes, Canadian. Longtime readers know this, but I've been seeing a lot of new names popping up in the comments so I thought I'd reiterate it. I count myself to be a Canadian Whisky fan. I've enjoyed releases from little known (in the US) names such as Danfield's and Highwood Ninety and from the staples such as Canadian Club and Crown Royal. 

And it was that last one that got me excited when I saw that I'd be getting a review sample. The newest release in the Orphan Barrel line is a 25-year-old Canadian whiskey that was initially intended for Crown Royal. It was left over and set aside. In this case for quite a while. I like Crown Royal, though I find it to be a bit overpriced and overrated. 

Let's see how the leftover bits fair.

Orphan Barrel: Entrapment

Purchase info: This sample was kindly provided by Taylor Strategy. The suggested retail price is $149.99 per 750 mL bottle. 

Details: 25 years old. 41% ABV. Mashbill of 97% corn and 3% malted barley. Distilled in Gimli, Manitoba. Bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Nose: Cinnamon candies, caramel, dried lumber.

Mouth: Very polite. And by that, I mean so gentle that you could honestly hold it in your mouth for minutes before you start to notice it. At that point, sweet and fruity notes combine with a nice nuttiness.

Finish: Gentle and short with cinnamon and nutty notes.

Thoughts: On the surface, there isn't a lot to this. The nose is very good, but you almost have to swallow your sip before the flavor starts to show up. When the flavors arrive, they are also very good. Though, I don't think I would say they are $150 good. Especially when they only show up for the second act. Yeah, this is pretty meh for me. 

And that disappoints and irritates me. There are a ton of delicious, full-flavored, Canadian whiskies on the market. Even the oldest ones are less than half the price of this. I'm terrified that someone will buy this and think that because it was so expensive, that this must be the best. That all Canadian Whiskies are this mild. I worry that in that mythical person's mind all Canadian whiskey will be dismissed. And they shouldn't be.


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Orphan Barrel: Rhetoric 23-Year-Old Bourbon

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. 

On Tuesday we talked about what the Orphan Barrel series was, why I hadn't reviewed any of it yet and what I thought of the 22-year old version of Rhetoric. Tonight we are looking at the 23-year old version that is either out now or will be soon depending on where you live. 

Do you know why I generally prefer my bourbon in the six to twelve-year-old range? There is a reason for it, well two actually. These days, the biggest one is the price. But even back when you could find an Elijah Craig 18 year for less than fifty bucks, I still typically left that for my wife to drink. She has always liked older bourbons more than I do. So not including the price the reason I don't care for older bourbons is that they tend to feel over oaked to me. In many of them, you taste oak and not much else. I like the interplay of the flavors that the barrel has contributed and those that the grains and yeast added. 

Of course, I don't want to make generalizations. There are plenty of gently aged bourbons out there that reach the upper teens without tasting like you are sucking on a bitter old stick. But when the price has risen as much as it has, making it almost impossible to take the plunge to try them without spending the kind of money that would make my frugal old Grandmother blush, it is hard to justify. Until such a time as my wife becomes independently wealthy, I'll probably just try these as samples and save my money for safer bets.

Orphan Barrel: Rhetoric 23-Year-Old Bourbon

Purchase Info: This 100mL sample was generously proved by Taylor Strategy. I've seen it for sale online between $129 and $180.

Details: 23 years old. 45.3% ABV

Nose: Vanilla and caramel, leather, oak and a generic nuttiness (remember I'm allergic, so I don't nut too much).

Mouth: Vanilla, baking spices, mint, anise and oh so much oak.

Finish: Hot, but the heat fades rather quickly to be replaced by oak. The oak pretty much overpowers anything else and lasts for a nice long time. After that fades, a general sweetness replaces it.

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Thoughts: I'm going to come right out and say it. I think this one is over oaked. If you are a fan of such things, grab it. However, I'm going to pass.

Comparison Thoughts: It's really amazing what an extra year will do when a whiskey gets this old. I liked the 22-year-old quite a bit, but the 23-year-old gets a pretty hard pass from me. The oak ramped up quite a bit providing a lot more pronounced bitterness to the finish. In the 22-year-old, the notes were melded together into a well-balanced whole. The extra year's worth of oak extraction allowed the oak to take over and not to the whiskey's benefit. Don't get me wrong, both of these have pronounced oak notes, but one is part of a nice melding while the other trends toward one-note.


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Orphan Barrel: Rhetoric 22-Year-Old Bourbon

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Taylor Strategy for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. 

I did a little research this weekend. Well, I assume I did. The sample I received of Rhetoric 22 year old stated that it was "for research only." If this is research, I've done enough research in the last five years that I should be well on my way to a Ph.D. 

This particular set of research was on one of two samples I received last week. Diageo will soon be releasing the 23-year-old Rhetoric, and when they sent out the samples, they were kind enough to include a sample of the 22-year-old that I could use as a comparison. But guess what? I've never reviewed the 22 (or any of the Orphan Barrel series), so I decided to give it its own post. 

The Orphan Barrel series is predominantly made up of old whiskey that was supposedly "found" just lying there in the warehouse. And in that sentence are the two reasons why I hadn't reviewed any of them previously. First, I prefer my whiskey a bit younger than these releases have been. If I had to give a general range, I'd say that I tend to prefer my whiskey to be six to twelve years old with some wiggle room on each side and room for exceptions. So the idea of a 20-plus-year-old whiskey gives me pause. And second, I'm allergic to BS marketing stories. The thought that the tax man hasn't had Diageo reporting what is in each and every barrel is a bit ludicrous.

So with a price that hovers right around my Personal Price Ceiling™, I decided to take a pass whenever I saw it on a shelf. I figured I'd let the Whiskey Bros spend their money on that. And I'd grab a bottle of a bourbon that I'd like more since I don't buy whiskey to prove the size of my wallet or my nether regions.

That said, when the PR firm sent me an offer of a free taste, well, it was hard to say no. The price is right, and if I didn't like it it would probably be a small sample anyway.

Orphan Barrel: Rhetoric 22-Year-Old Bourbon

Purchase Info: This 100mL sample was generously proved by Taylor Strategy. I've seen it for sale online between $129 and $180.

Details: 22 years old. 45.2% ABV

Nose: Leather, citrus, vanilla a hint of chocolate and lots of oak.

Mouth: Nice and spicy with cinnamon candies to go along with the vanilla and oak. So much oak!

Finish: Warm and of medium length. Oak flavors linger along with leather, chocolate, vanilla, and nougat.

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Thoughts: I don't really like super old bourbons most of the time. They tend to be oak extract with little in the way of other flavors. But this one I like. Would I personally run out and buy it? Nope. $120-plus is a little outside the budget for me these days. But the flavors are rich and sweet. There is a nice spice to it. And overall, it is a really nice bourbon. 

So if dropping a Benjamin and a half on a single bottle of bourbon doesn't faze you, I'd recommend grabbing one should you see it. If you'd rather use that money for other things, I can't fault you there either.
 


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George Dickel No. 8

This is extremely strange. My wife and I both insist that we have reviewed George Dickel Rye whiskey. I remember having the bottle. I remember recommending that people check it out if they liked the 95-5 MGP Rye and wanted to try a version that had been filtered before bottling (since that's all it is). But as I look back through the site, I can't find that review anywhere. I even googled my own site and can't find it.

Is it possible that I'm suffering from my own mini-Mandela Effect? Probably not. I don't know if it is a technology problem or that maybe something came up and I never posted the article, but whatever it is, I apparently have been misremembering all this time. And I guess that just means I have to do it again in the future.

And you might ask why I might need to do that. Well, I've had Dickel Single Barrel selections and reviewed them. I've had the Barrel Select and never reviewed it (as well as the rye...apparently). But until recently I've never had the Flagship No. 8 release or the slightly older No. 12. I don't think...after tonight, I really don't know anymore. And to be honest, It's about time to add them to the list of products I've reviewed. That and if I'm going to talk about the high-end products, it just makes sense to know a little more about the standard releases.

So what is George Dickel No. 8? As I said, it is the most widely distributed of the George Dickel line. George Dickel, being Diageo's answer to Jack Daniel's. Like Jack, it's dripped through a charcoal filtering process before barreling and aging to help remove some of the undesirable byproducts of distillation and help jump-start the aging process. 

But how does it taste? Let's find out.

George Dickel No. 8 Tennessee Whiskey 

Purchase Info: $17.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 40% ABV. Non-age stated. 

Nose: Honey with floral and chalky notes.

Mouth: Sweetness and spice with just a hint of mint.

Finish: Medium length with some warmth. Citrus, cinnamon, mint and chewable vitamins.

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Thoughts: In a tasting glass, this is fine. Nothing offensive about it, but nothing really to recommend it either. Unless you either really like or really dislike the mineral/vitamin note. Then you might find something offensive or delicious. 

In a rocks glass or tumbler, this is better and might provide a nice bit of social lubricant as you chat with friends. It's good. It's just not great. And for $18, I'm happy with that. 


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If You've Had... Bulleit Bourbon Edition

My Goodness! I can't believe that it has been almost a year since I last did one of these! I love these posts. They are just the most fun to do the tastings for. And if you like them too, then I have good news: I've got two more for sure on the editorial calendar and another two that will depend on the availability of products. So without further ado, I present the fourth installment of the If You’ve Had… series. 

In case you missed it last time, the setup is like this: "If you've had Whiskey A then Whiskey B is..." hotter, spicier, sweeter, more floral, etc. Each section is written as compared to one of the whiskeys. So if you've had that one, but not the others then that section will be of the most use to you. Remember there are no value judgments here. You get to decide based on what you know of Whiskey A if Whiskey B sounds like something you'd want to try.

Up tonight is the Bulleit Bourbon family. Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit 10-Year-Old Bourbon, and Bulleit Barrel-Strength Bourbon

If you’ve had Bulleit Bourbon then…

Bulleit 10 Year is: less floral and drier on the nose. The mouth has more complex flavor with more peppery heat, baking spice, and cocoa notes. The finish is longer with more baking spice.

Bulleit Barrel-Strength is: similar on the nose though more concentrated while showing more baking spice and oak. It shows more floral notes in the mouth and is hotter due to the higher alcohol content. The finish is longer, warmer and shows more floral and baking spice.

If you’ve had Bulleit 10 Year Old Bourbon then…

Bulleit Bourbon: shows more cinnamon candies and less cocoa on the nose. The mouth is much less floral with a finish that is slightly shorter and less spicy.

Bulleit Barrel-Strength is: sweeter and less floral on the nose but shows more cinnamon. The mouth is sweeter and hotter with less oak presence. The finish is longer and warmer.

If you’ve had Bulleit Barrel Strength Bourbon then…

Bulleit Bourbon is: similar on the nose, though it does show more black tea. The mouth is much less hot, with less spice but seems sweeter because of that. The finish is shorter. 

Bulleit 10 Year is: Oakier on the nose. The mouth has less heat but more oak and cocoa notes. The finish is shorter, with less heat, but is more floral. 


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