Since 2013, Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company has offered an annual limited release of bottles from its Rhetoric Line. The tradition began five years ago with the release of Rhetoric 20. The line continued to grow more sophisticated, complex, and luxurious with each additional annual release. Sadly, this is the last of the Orphan Barrel Rhetoric line. With an additional five years of age and sultry new taste notes – Rhetoric 25 is here for a limited time. This line of bourbon retires with the refined dignity that gets better with age. Don’t miss the chance to take home a bottle.
About The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co.
The Orphan Barrel was born from a mission to share the country’s lost, great whiskeys, found or abandoned in the backs of distilleries and rickhouses – hence the name “Orphan Barrel.” When the company recovers these rare and spectacular barrels, every batch is bottled by hand to ensure quality control and a perfect product. Bottling and distribution take place in The Orphan Barrel distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
The location and culture of the company speak of Smoky Mountain roots, mixed with the tradition of Kentucky distilleries and the hip edge of neighboring Nashville distilleries. Though this is the last edition of Rhetoric for the small enterprise, they continue to release many special whiskeys and bourbons. The nature of bottling, sharing, and preserving these limited forgotten barrels, means that once Orphan Barrel releases are gone – they’re gone forever.
The Rhetoric line is mature, complex, and a little bit of fun. Orphan Barrel is rumored to have come upon the barrels in an old Bernheim Distillery in a warehouse for Stizel-Weller. That can’t be confirmed by our sources, but it is certainly clear that the whiskey has a complex and dignified pedigree. The barrels were certifiably distilled in the early 90s.
Rhetoric is a real hidden gem of a true Kentucky bourbon whiskey, and hits hard in all the ways that one expects from a straight bourbon whiskey. Velvety, rich notes of flavor help it go down smoothly, softening that edge and sting. Over five years of releases by The Orphan Barrel, have allowed those lucky enough to purchase the limited bottles a chance to witness the evolution of this vertical release.
In 2013, The Orphan Barrel released the first batch of Rhetoric after discovery – Rhetoric 20. After 20 years of maturing, the flavors proved to be quite profound. The first notes of Rhetoric 20 are leathery and smoky – reminiscent more of sweet tobacco pipe smoke, rather than peat-heavy scotch. The smokier, more masculine notes give way to toasty, oaky, and vanilla sweetness. The full finish hints to chocolate and cherry.
The subsequent releases of Rhetoric 21, 22, 23, and 24 have met mostly positive reviews. The greatest criticism of the latter two whiskeys is that the tannins are stronger due to the advanced age. However, some tasters love the slightly more complicated flavor and stronger proof. For most bourbon aficionados, the qualities that make the first releases great are only enhanced by the passing of time.
Nevertheless, there is a limit on how long vintages of this nature are viable. Most whiskeys peak around 20 years, and must meet certain parameters to age well beyond that. Rhetoric has enjoyed more years of great flavor, but every good thing must come to an end. That is part of what makes this vintage so special and valuable – it is the last of a set that tells a rich story of flavor and discovery.
Rhetoric 25 – The Details
Rhetoric 25 is set for release with the New Year. It will come in the customary 750ml trademark Rhetoric bottle. It is a stout 91 proof. While some flavor notes have stayed constant throughout the years of release, this edition is said to have more spice, dark caramel, and cocoa flavor. The high proof is detectable in the nose, but the taste is as silky, chocolaty, and toasty as ever. For inquiring minds, the company released a mash breakdown.
- 86% corn
- 8% barley
- 6% rye
Rhetoric’s low rye composition results in a smooth easy drinking whiskey with just enough bite to remind you of its roots. The retail cost of a bottle varies, but the market is competitive because many die-hard enthusiasts hope to complete a set. For those in the market for a bottle – know that supplies will not last.
This is a Kentucky bourbon with a mysterious pedigree, and a story of salvation in the Tennessee hills. After a long run of satisfying libations, this batch is the end of an era. Enjoy the last Orphan Barrel release of Rhetoric 25 while it’s here.