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The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company is an endeavor to rescue nearly forgotten barrels of delicious whiskey and share them with discerning adult consumers.
Rhetoric 25 Year Bourbon
- DISTILLER: Produced by the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company. Originally distilled at the Bernheim Distillery historically located at 17th and Breckenridge in Louisville between 1990-1993
- MASH BILL: 86% Corn | 6% Rye | 8% Barley
- AGE: 25 Years
- YEAR: 2018
- PROOF: 91 proof (45.5% ABV)
- MSRP: $140
- BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Oak | Baked Cinnamon | Allspice | Cocoa | Butterscotch
TASTE: Nutmeg | Cinnamon
FINISH: Medium Length | Spicy | Cinnamon | Cocoa | Nutmeg | A Hint of Sweetness | A little dry
SHARE WITH: Whiskey nerds and oak-forward bourbon fans.
WORTH THE PRICE: Retail was announced as $140, but I found this one for $159 on the shelf, and I’ve heard accounts of prices ranging from $159-200. Just on paper, if you compared it to the other bourbons older than 20 years, like offerings from Elijah Craig, Parker’s Heritage, Pappy Van Winkle, and others, this is a good value. If you have not had many occasions to try bourbons this old, then this might be a good option to familiarize yourself with the notes of older, oak-forward bourbons.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: As I often do with higher-priced bottles that I am unsure about, I buy a bottle and split it with some friends. For the price of a drink at the bar, I can get 4 or 5 ounces and help some friends get their hands on some samples, too. If that is not an option, I’d recommend trying it at the bar before committing to a bottle. I enjoy the oak in this one, but a lot of people prefer the woodiness to be subtler.
OVERALL: The nose on this one is fantastic. The oak is way out front, but the baking spices and sweeter notes add a nice depth that I find very enjoyable. I don’t find the palate of body to be anything special. The finish is nice but could be longer. From an educational perspective, I enjoy seeing how well distilleries can wrangle the intense oak of older bourbons like this one, so I am glad I got to try it. After reading about the 24-year, I expected this one to be loaded with tannins, but the dryness was far from over-bearing.
Editor’s Note: Back in May 2014, I had the opportunity to review the first release of Rhetoric. Now that we’re at the end of its 5-year journey you may want to check out that original Rhetoric bourbon review and see how it stacks up to today’s review of the 25 year release.