By Kurt Maitland
As we’ve mentioned before, Diageo started their Orphan Barrel series this past February with two aged bourbons: the Barterhouse 20 Year Old and the Old Blowhard 26 Year Old. Diageo plans to build on these two selections from Lousiville’s old Stitzel-Weller facility to make several limited releases a year of rare, aged whiskeys drawn from the many distilleries in their possession around the world, including those in Scotland and Ireland according to Ewan Morgan, Diageo’s Master of Whisk(e)y.
Color: A rich coppery amber
Nose: Spice , honey and oak
Taste: The Old Blowhard mash bill is 86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye. I found it to be spicier and sweeter than its younger brother, Barterhouse even though they have a similar mash bill. This changes with a little water. The water helps a little more of the oak to come through and the Blowhard takes on a drier finish.
Finish: It has a sweet carmel, candied finish that is somewhat reminiscent of a Werther’s Original and that’s not a bad thing.
I think both releases offer something unique to the market. In some ways I can see the Orphan Barrel series being like the circus or the county fair of your youth – “Fun can be had but only for a limited time” and “We’ll be back with all new rides and thrills next summer”. However in this case summer lasts a bit longer ….or at least until the stock runs out). Even before the old “rides” are set up for your enjoyment, we’ve already seen some glimpses of the new “rides”, with Rhetoric confirmed for a May 2014 release and Strongbox and Blade & Bow rumored as two other releases set for later in the year. As always, we at The Whiskey Reviewer shall keep you informed.
This release will retail at $150 US and as it is a limited release of a 26 year old bourbon, I doubt you are going to see much in the way of discounts. If you want a taste, hit your better bars for a dram or keep an eye out when hit your favorite liquor store.