By Kurt Maitland
This is the 5th release in Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series, aged in Kentucky’s famed Stitzel-Weller rickhouse and bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Prior to release there were rumors (and hopes) that this was a lost Stitzel-Weller whiskey, but the mashbill (86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye) and the taste indicate it was distilled elsewhere, now rumored to be the New Bernheim distillery. The bourbon was bottled at 90.5 proof (45.25% abv).
Color: New Copper
Nose: Citrus at first turning to fresh strawberries, vanilla cream and honey
Taste: Less strawberry and more tangerine like citrus, with a well-rounded moutfeel, even with the clinging bit of astringency that lingers. I get some cherry in this along with a fair bit of wood.
I think the nose of this release promised more the palate delivers. Instead of the ripe fruit of the nose the taste of this release is dominated by tobacco, leather and dark cocoa, with the fruit still there but more as a lingering afterthought versus a prominent presence. I wonder if this would have been bolder at a high proof, but I’m of a mind that a higher proof would have brought still more oakiness to the party, so any gains from the higher proof would have been lost in the wood.
The little touch of rye that appears on the mashbill seems becomes more an active a flavor agent with the addition of water.
Finish: Peppery tobacco finish, spicier than the proof would you lead you to expect and hints of mint show their face.
This is listed at $65 MSRP, but I don’t know that you will actually find it priced as such, and mark-ups into the $80 range are common.