Orphan Barrel: Rhetoric 24 Year

One hotly debated topic in the bourbon world is the overall age of the liquid in the bottle.  There’s further discussion surrounding age-statements and transparency as well, and today’s bourbon review may scratch some of these while leaving some others as a bit of a question mark.  Either way it’s safe to say a twenty four year old age-stated bourbon is certainly one that will pique the interest of most bourbon drinkers and I’m happy to share my thoughts on this one with you.  Let’s do this!


John H.




August 17th, 2021

This review brings a bit of interesting disparity both in age and in product information from my recent Weller C.Y.P.B. post.

Where CYPB was purportedly crafted with user input and made to serve the demand of the consumer, today’s product is nearly the polar opposite.  Barrels distilled at Bernheim and supposedly lost amidst the countless barrels coming and going from rickhouses wound up as orphans.  Rhetoric comes to us as an ultra-aged bourbon from these lonely stocks.

Below is a quote from the Orphan Barrel website:

The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Co. was started to share barrels of delicious and rare whiskey, hidden away and nearly forgotten in the back of rickhouses and distilleries.

Stories of these lost whiskeys have become the stuff of legend. Our goal is to bottle these rare, small offerings for the world to try and for you to add to your whiskey collection.

Every Orphan Barrel whiskey is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee, to ensure that these rare whiskeys are treated with the care they deserve – because some of them will only be available once. And once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”


Let’s dig in and see what this old orphan has to say for itself.  Here we go!

Tasting Notes…

Nose – Sweet oak and fruits.  Rich and hearty too.  It’s pretty nice on the nose.  Layers of mocha mixing with oak.

Taste – A supple mouthfeel that brings in waves of fruit mixing with rich oak.  The texture is really enjoyable and the amount of fruit here is surprising.  Some banana bread with apple butter on top.  Brown sugar.  Rich heady vanilla and just a touch of spice.

Finish – A medium to long finish that’s a flavor wheel of fun.  Sweet dessert flavors with some baked goods, fruits, chocolate and ultimately coming back to oak and finishing off with spice.

Bourbon Finder Grade: B+

Final thoughts…

All in all this is really tasty.  Pretty surprising as well.  The brighter layers of fruit balance the oak structure and it brings along a nice mouthfeel.  While bringing a great balance and multiple layers of flavor, it’s not super complex, and that’s really the only thing keeping from bumping up to an A- for me, but that isn’t to say it’s not very nice.  I dig this whiskey!

Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

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