Wednesday, March 11, 2015
More Orphan Barrels: Rhetoric and Forged Oak
It's time to try two more of Diageo's Orphan Barrel bourbons. Rhetoric was the third release in the series and Forged Oak is the most recent. Both were distilled at the Bernheim Distillery. The Bernheim Distillery, of course, was entirely rebuilt in 1992. Presumably these come mostly from the new Bernheim distillery, which is currently owned by Heaven Hill, but there could be older barrels mixed in as well.
Rhetoric, 20 yo, 45% abv ($85)
The nose has a nice, dry, oaky note with a touch of lemon rind. The palate has caramel and oak then moving into red wine notes; it's a bit diluted tasting. It has a nice milk chocolate finish. Overall, this one was less interesting than the first two releases, though still decent. That being said, I'd never pay $85 for a bottle.
Forged Oak, 15 yo, 45.25% abv ($65)
The nose is a bit astringent on the opening. With a little air, it gets honey and black pepper. The palate is pancake syrup (not real maple syrup, the fake stuff). It's thin without much substance. On the finish it turns a bit spicy. While Rhetoric was was a bit less interesting than Old Blowhard and Barterhouse, Forged Oak is a solid step down from those earlier releases. It's sweet and flat and that's about it.
The first two bottles from this series made me think critics had been a bit too harsh, but these two were unremarkable.
Thanks to John Burlowski for the samples.