Gifted Horse is the seventh Orphan Barrel release. Wow, has it been seven already? To this point, the youngest Orphan Barrel was Forged Oak, a 15-year-old bourbon. This is the first in the series that carries no age statement on the label. If it did have one, it would read “4 years old”. Also of note is the high 115 proof, making it the highest proof of all the Orphan Barrel whiskies.
The story here is that 17-year-old bourbon was accidentally mixed with young whiskey (4-year-old corn whiskey and 4-year-old bourbon). It’s the same thing we heard with Wild Turkey’s Forgiven, which is a blend of rye whiskey and bourbon. You can choose to believe the story or not.
Something we do know is the source of the whiskies in the blend and how much of each the final blend is comprised of. 38.5% of Gifted Horse is 17-year-old bourbon distilled at the Bernheim Distillery, while 51% is 4-year-old bourbon from Indiana. A 4-year-old corn whiskey, also distilled in Indiana, makes up the rest of this whiskey.
Let’s take a look at the juice inside the bottle.
The high proof of this whiskey is evident in its initial fiery nose. Young corn grain and cinnamon candy are the first aromas out of the glass. Things mellow out a bit after a moment, allowing some caramel and an herbal note to come through. The entry is a little on the hot side. Once the alcohol punch dissipates, classic bourbon flavors begin showing up – sweet young corn, caramel richness and some cinnamon spice. It tastes perfectly fine to this point. Then the older whiskey shows up, adding some astringent oak which was a slight surprise given the youngish character of the entry. A long, warm and slightly dry finish leaves behind a sweet corn grain note.
Don’t get me wrong – I know Orphan Barrel whiskies are oak-forward, but I expected a better integration between the young and old whiskies this blend is comprised of. Instead, Gifted Horse feels a bit scattered. All the flavors and aromas we love in bourbon are here, but this is a case of the parts being greater than the sum. I do applaud the high bottling proof here. It’s something I wish other Orphan Barrel whiskies had. All in all, Gifted Horse is a mostly solid whiskey. The suggested retail price of $50 might be a tad on the high side for what’s in the bottle.