Barterhouse Bourbon Photo

Barterhouse Bourbon Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Patrick "Pops" Garrett2 Comments

For months now the bourbon world has been abuzz about Diageo’s new Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company. The stated goal of the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company is “to locate lost and forgotten barrels of whiskey from around the world and share them with discerning adult fans.” The first two releases from the company are Barterhouse and Old Blowhard bourbons but future releases may include other types of whiskey like Irish and Tennessee.

Based on how Diageo is positioning these whiskeys, along with the ornate way they packaged the pre-release samples they provided Bourbon & Banter, it’s clear that Diageo is pulling out all the stops to bring some rare bourbons to market in an attempt to take advantage of high demand in super premium whiskey category.

Here’s what Diageo had to say about Barterhouse Bourbon in their official press release:

Barterhouse Whiskey stocks were discovered in old warehouses at the Stitzel-Weller facility in Louisville, Ky. Rumor has it warehouse workers have already begun lining up for the first taste of this beautiful whiskey with a soft nose reminiscent of warm spice, biscuit and buttercream. The whiskey’s mellow taste includes notes of roasted grain, charred oak and a brown sugar finish. Barterhouse Whiskey is bottled in Tullahoma, Tenn. and will be expected to sell for a suggested retail price of $75.

“The whiskey warehouses and rickhouses these spirits come from are special places filled with the incredible smells of seasoned oak, rough textures of weathered wood and amazing tastes of precious liquid,” said Ewan Morgan, Master of Whiskey for DIAGEO. “It’s every worker’s dream of finding that forgotten barrel of delicious whiskey and sharing it with their friends. That’s exactly what we’re doing.” Like the rickhouse and warehouse workers who uncover them and the consumers who drink them, Orphan Barrel Whiskies have distinctive personalities in taste and packaging. Barterhouse Whiskey packaging nods to the inspiration behind the whiskey’s name. A vintage khaki and brown label features a sly fox front and center after he’s made a smooth deal at the local trading post. Because when there’s no money on the table, Barterhouse Whiskey turns give and take into an adventure in provocation and persuasion.

It’s important to note that Barterhouse and Old Blowhard bourbons were only stored at Stitzel-Weller. Barterhouse was distilled at the current Bernheim Distillery, while Old Blowhard was distilled at the Old Bernheim Distillery. Both whiskeys were then bottled at the George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, TN.

I’m pretty excited to see these older bourbons coming to market and can only hope that they live up to the marketing hype and don’t wind up simply being a way for Diageo to take advantage of the current bourbon boom. I’m all for brands making money as long as the product they’re selling lives up to expectations and is worth the price.

Let’s go ahead and jump into my Barterhouse Bourbon review and see if Diageo’s got a hit on their hands or not.


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One sip of Barterhouse Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and you just might find yourself forgiving Robert Johnson for trading his soul to the very devil himself.

Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co.
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  • DISTILLER: Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co. (a Diageo brand) created the brand and bottled the whiskey but it was originally distilled by Heaven Hill (Bernheim Distillery)
  • MASH BILL: 75% Corn  |  13% Rye  |  12% Barley
  • AGE: 20 years
  • YEAR: 2014
  • PROOF: 90.2 (45.1% ABV)
  • MSRP: $75

NOSEOak | Almonds | Nutmeg | Cherries

TASTE: Heavy Oak | Spice | Mint

FINISH: The finish on this one is long and lingers nicely with a warm surge when you want it most. However, it’s overly spicy without the balance that vanilla and caramel could have brought to the party. Its’ very dry and actually tastes quite bitter. I tried it 3 different times and each time I found it lacking.

SHARE WITH: Share with a bourbon drinker who appreciates new releases and wants to check this off of their list. I would not share this with someone who you’re looking to impress with what’s in the bottle.

WORTH THE PRICE: Suggested retail price for this release is $75. I personally think this one is overpriced for what’s in the bottle. You’re paying for the age and novelty of the program – not the quality of what’s in the bottle. There are better ways to spend $75 when it comes to buying bourbon.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Try this one at the bar or with a friend who rushed out and bought a bottle already. Only add it to your collection if you want to check it off your collector’s list. I think they’ll be quite a few of these available for sale after folks realize it doesn’t live up to the hype.

OVERALL: When I started to write-up my review I took a look around the web to see what other people thought about Barterhouse bourbon. I found that many people found it to be a decent drinker but not overly impressive. I don’t know if they got their hands on a sample from a different batch but mine wasn’t anything like the ones described in their reviews. I’m very disappointed in this release and worried about my next review of its older cousin, Old Blowhard bourbon.

Have you tried it yet? 

Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think. I’m really curious to hear if this one is living up to everyone’s expectations.

Learn more about Pops' whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

DIAGEO LAUNCHES ORPHAN BARREL WHISKEY DISTILLING COMPANY TO SHARE RARE SPIRITS

First Releases to Include 20+ Year Old Barterhouse™ Whiskey and Old Blowhard™ Whiskey

TULLAHOMA, TENN. (February 11, 2014) – From Tennessee to Kentucky to Ireland, stories of old whiskies forgotten in the back of rickhouses and warehouses drift among distillers the world over. From lunch breaks to happy hours, their debates over which whiskey would taste best has become the stuff of legend. To offer resolution and introduce a new line of rare spirits to a growing base of whiskey aficionados, DIAGEO (NYSE: DEO) today announced the official start of the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company.

The goal of The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company is to locate lost and forgotten barrels of whiskey from around the world and share them with discerning adult fans. The first two variants to be released from the company will include the 20-year-old Barterhouse Whiskey and the 26-year-aged Old Blowhard Whiskey. Both brands are expected to begin appearing on select shelves throughout the U.S. in March 2014 under strict allocation due to limited supply.

Barterhouse Whiskey stocks were discovered in old warehouses at the Stitzel-Weller facility in Louisville, Ky. Rumor has it warehouse workers have already begun lining up for the first taste of this beautiful whiskey with a soft nose reminiscent of warm spice, biscuit and buttercream. The whiskey’s mellow taste includes notes of roasted grain, charred oak and a brown sugar finish. Barterhouse Whiskey is bottled in Tullahoma, Tenn. and will be expected to sell for a suggested retail price of $75.

Old Blowhard Whiskey was also found at Stitzel-Weller and is hand bottled in Tullahoma. At 26-yearsold, the whiskey contains exuberant, rich flavors with undertones of smoke and honey followed by a gentle finish – dry and spicy with a hint of orange peel. Carrying a suggested retail price of $150, Old Blowhard Whiskey is meant to be sipped slowly and best enjoyed among gregarious friends and unyielding debates.

“The whiskey warehouses and rickhouses these spirits come from are special places filled with the incredible smells of seasoned oak, rough textures of weathered wood and amazing tastes of precious liquid,” said Ewan Morgan, Master of Whiskey for DIAGEO. “It’s every worker’s dream of finding that forgotten barrel of delicious whiskey and sharing it with their friends. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Like the rickhouse and warehouse workers who uncover them and the consumers who drink them, Orphan Barrel Whiskies have distinctive personalities in taste and packaging. Barterhouse Whiskey packaging nods to the inspiration behind the whiskey’s name. A vintage khaki and brown label features a sly fox front and center after he’s made a smooth deal at the local trading post. Because when there’s no money on the table, Barterhouse Whiskey turns give and take into an adventure in provocation and persuasion.

Based in a beautiful nautical blue, the Old Blowhard Whiskey label features a powerful whale exhaling through its blowhole before launching into another opinionated debate. Powerful fonts rooted in swagger proclaim the spirit’s impressive age statement and status as a Kentucky Bourbon.

The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company is headquartered in Tullahoma, Tenn. where the whiskies are bottled and owned and operated by DIAGEO, the world’s leading premium drinks company. DIAGEO continues to invest in the growing whiskey and bourbon categories via the Orphan Barrel WhiskeyDistilling company and its existing line of whiskies including Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal Canadian Whisky, Bulleit Bourbon, George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey, Bushmills and more.

Orphan Barrel whiskies have been waiting years to be uncovered so DIAGEO and the rickhouse workers who guard these rare spirits remind consumers lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle to sip slowly and responsibly.


Disclaimer: Diageo provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patrick Garrett, "Pops" as he's known to his friends, is the founder of Bourbon & Banter, LLC and claims the title of Chief Drinking Officer (CDO). A long-time marketing professional and photographer, Pops hopes to use his professional experience and love of Bourbon to spread the Bourbon Gospel and help everyone realize the therapeutic power of having a good drink with friends. Read Patrick's full profile.

About the Author

Patrick "Pops" Garrett

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Patrick Garrett, "Pops" as he's known to his friends, is the founder of Bourbon & Banter, LLC and claims the title of Chief Drinking Officer (CDO). A long-time marketing professional and photographer, Pops hopes to use his professional experience and love of Bourbon to spread the Bourbon Gospel and help everyone realize the therapeutic power of having a good drink with friends. Read Patrick's full profile.

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