Whiskey Review: Orphan Barrel Fable & Folly

, | September 22, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Orphan Barrel. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

For years, Orphan Barrel has been rescuing vats of liquid gold stashed and forgotten by the supplying rickhouses. Orphan Barrel gave us Barterhouse, Forged Oak, and the Rhetoric series, and now it gives us its latest release— Fable & Folly. The stock from those previously mentioned series has dwindled down. Master Blender Andrew Mackay took what is left and made a unique blend.

Fable & Folly’s illustrated label depicts a cryptid made up of a fox, a stag, and a hummingbird playing a lyre. It is an amalgamation of three signature whiskeys from Orphan Barrel. The sly and cunning fox represents Barterhouse, the 20-year-old bourbon. The stoic stag represents Forged Oak, the 15-year-old bourbon. Lastly, the joyful hummingbird represents Rhetoric, the 20 plus-year-old bourbons. All the orphaned barrels for Fable & Folly were distilled by Bernheim for Stitzel-Weller. 

It is nice to see the select stocks form a new brand instead of in a hodgepodge mass produced whiskey. Mackay’s blend, Fable & Folly, showcases the nuances these rare barrels have. Blended together to create a new rare whiskey that will be talked about long after it is gone. Does the new blend accomplish what Mackay set out to achieve? Find out below. 

Orphan Barrel Fable & Folly review

Orphan Barrel Fable & Folly (image via Diageo)

Tasting Notes: Orphan Barrel Fable & Folly

Vital Stats: 45% ABV, 90 proof. 14-year-old blended American whiskey. Limited availability. 750ml $150.

Appearance: Dark amber

Nose: Lemon Pine-Sol and nail polish remover start the whiskey off, but as that dissipates, it becomes more perfumed. Canned mandarin oranges fill out the middle with brightness. Amongst the heavy oak is dry cinnamon stick. There is a slight nuttiness to the whiskey, but it smells sweet like powdered donuts. 

Palate: The whiskey starts out quickly with sweetness from powdered sugar, but then the oak hits big like a slap in the face. It has a tartness about it like lemon zest and lemon wedges. The cinnamon from the nose lingers throughout the dram. The aftertaste leaves much to be desired. The whiskey is not bad overall, but the aftertaste is like burnt rubber on asphalt.



Fable & Folly from Orphan Barrel highlights the melding of rare whiskeys. While I am always down to try a new whiskey or experimental series, older bourbons have been hit or miss for me. Fable & Folly, while flavorful, has an aftertaste that makes this rare whiskey blend a miss for me— at least served neat. I can overlook the abundant oak because the fruit that comes through is quite yummy, however, I cannot ignore the burnt rubber finish and aftertaste. With the right bitters and sugar cube, Fable & Folly does make a good old fashioned.

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Courtney Kristjana

Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...