Diageo, an uber large global spirits company, is stirring the waters of American whiskey collectors with word of its upcoming Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company project limited release Kentucky Bourbons. Its first two offerings under this new scheme are tantalizing for sure for possible purchase, but you need to make sure you pay attention to the fine print to know what you might be buying.
Various other whiskey media outlets have been reporting the first two bottlings under this project are Barterhouse Whiskey and Old Blowhard Whiskey. It also has been reported the Orphan Barrel offerings result from locating “lost and forgotten barrels of whiskey from around the world and [sharing] them with discerning adult fans.” How these last two sentences connect is that the Barterhouse and Old Blowhard releases herald from “old warehouses at the famed Stitzel-Weller facility in Louisville, Kentucky.” Where they may have actually been distilled, however, is a bit of a question.
Whisky Advocate reports that even though Diageo owns the Stitzel-Weller distillery, which has been out of commission for sometime, in its role as a storage facility it may not only hold old bourbon stocks from that famed location, but also host aging product from a range of other Kentucky distillers present and past. This knowledge is further enhanced by research from WhiskyCast, which examined the label to note that confusing “produced by” moniker which leaves many whiskey drinkers scratching their heads as to where the actual bourbon in bottle was distilled at.
Whatever the case, the first two releases under Orphan Barrel still look quite impressive at first glance. Barterhouse, a 20-year bourbon pricing at $75, was bottled at 45.1 percent ABV and is described as having a “soft nose reminiscent of warm spice, biscuit and buttercream. The whiskey’s mellow taste includes notes of roasted grain, charred oak and a brown sugar finish.”
Old Blowhard, meanwhile, is a 26-year bourbon pricing around $150 per 750 ml bottle that’s been dropped in at 90.7 proof. It is said to contain “exuberant, rich flavors with undertones of smoke and honey followed by a gentle finish – dry and spicy with a hint of orange peel.”
As for availability, expect both to start appearing on American liquor store shelves in March. Future releases are planned under the Orphan Barrel project as well.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...