Based out of Tullahoma, Tennessee, The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Company was founded with the mission to share barrels of rare and delicious whiskeys. Every year, barrels are overlooked and nearly forgotten in the back of distilleries around the world. These “lost” whiskeys have become a legend and Orphan Barrel has made it their goal to bottle these rare whiskeys for the world to try.
In order to guarantee that these whiskeys are treated with the care they deserve, each barrel is hand bottled by knowledgeable and responsible curators. Due to their origins as forgotten barrels, many of the bottles produced by Orphan Barrel are only available once. Once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
One of these rare finds is Barterhouse. After being aged for twenty years in American oak barrels, most whiskeys are mellowed…but not this one. One barrel turned out perfect. For just one barrel, those twenty years were the right length of time to craft perfection. The distillers had written this barrel off as a failure. They believed that its perfection was just a false rumor. But Orphan Barrel didn’t believe them and wanted to give this barrel a chance. As it turned out, the distillers were wrong, and the rumors were true.
Barterhouse is bottled at just over 90 proof. Upon pouring a glass, scents of oak, almonds, nutmeg, and cherry fill the air. The first sip is heavy on the oak and spice, mixing well with mint flavors. The finish is long and warm with vanilla and caramel perfectly dulling the potentially overwhelming spice.
Unfortunately, this delicious whiskey is an extremely rare find due to the single barrel available for bottling. And once it’s gone — it’s gone forever.
But Orphan Barrel has recently released other unique whiskeys, including Rhetoric. Unlike Barterhouse, Orphan Barrel has been releasing better tasting, more complex versions of Rhetoric each year. And each new year brings with it more mature flavors and character. This year, the whiskey has been aged 21 years.
At first sight, there isn’t much of a difference between last year’s Rhetoric and this year’s version. However, the difference and improvements are obvious with as much as the first smell. The scent is still dominated by oak, but the apple, caramel, cinnamon, and orange scents are more prominent. The taste is soft and well-rounded with baked apple, caramel, and oak mixing perfectly with the spices. The finish lasts just the right amount of time, not too long, not too short. It is fairly dry with strong citrus flavors.
It seems as though Orphan Barrel’s annual releases of Rhetoric are somewhat of a showcase, allowing their followers to see the process of aging for themselves. Many whiskey connoisseurs see this as a dream come true.
Both of these Orphan Barrel creations can be bought at our Bourbon Women event, December 5 at our Greenwood Mall store.