Barterhouse 20 Year Old Bourbon Review


By Kurt Maitland

Rating: A

Barterhouse bourbon

Barterhouse 20 Year Old bourbon
(Credit: Orphan Barrel/Diageo)

It’s no secret that Diageo has started what they call, their “Orphan Barrel” project. Essentially, Diageo will be making several limited releases of rare, aged whiskeys they have, drawn from the many distilleries under their roof. In some respects, this project is the child of the old United Distillers’ Rare Malt project, which rare scotch casks that “were too special to put in a blend” and sold them as a limited release. The first two Orphan Barrel releases were the 20 yo Barterhouse and the 26 yo Old Blowhard, made from stock in the old Stitzel-Weller warehouses in Louisville.

Barterhouse is a 20 year old bourbon, bottled at 45.1% abv in Tennessee at a Diageo property that has been very much in the news lately due to a clash between Diageo and Brown-Forman, namely George Dickel.

The Bourbon

Color: Rich, almost ruby red

Nose: Spice, Vanilla, Honey, Oak

Taste and Finish: The honey and vanilla are the dominant presences here. You can taste the oak but it is definitely not overly oaky and there is a spice note that keeps it the whiskey from being too sweet.  Barterhouse has a dry finish, and I found it smoothly un-woody for 20 yr old, with an almost rum raisin finish. The taste stays dry with the addition of water but gets a little sweeter and a little more floral.

I love the idea of this project and these various whiskeys hitting the shelves. There are amazing whiskeys lurking in Diageo’s worldwide slew of distilleries and this gives us a chance to taste them.  The Orphan Barrel project is starting out with bourbons but will eventually include releases from Diageo’s distilleries in Ireland and Scotland.

The Price
This will run you around $75 dollars, but as it will be a limited release, you should get moving on seeking it out if interested.

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  1. I JUST cracked open a bottle of Barterhouse Bourbon whiskey for my son and I and I can tell you without a doubt that it’s the BEST ‘sippin whiskey’ I’ve EVER had…At the front edge is a slightly sweet but caramel flavor that’s ever so SMOOTH, and then the bourbon punch happens with a very subtle oak flavor followed by a another round of complex but nutty but slightly sweet flavor at the finish…I’ve had A LOT of well aged whiskeys but Barterhouse is like no other…I would highly recommend searching for it because while mine wasn’t much of a hunt (our local store carried it and it was a ‘sleeper’) this is a once in a lifetime bourbon…DON’T MISS OUT..!

  2. I love it, I have hoarded 2 additional bottles and have whistled through 3 in the past 1.5 years.

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