This 21-year-old bourbon is the second release of Rhetoric. Part of the Orphan Barrel series, Rhetoric is an experiment in aging. The first release was a 20-year-old whiskey. The same juice continues to age. Each year, a small portion of the juice is released, letting the whiskey-loving public taste the differences between it and previous (and younger) releases.
Orphan Barrel’s fourth release, Lost Prophet, is the newest bourbon in their line of highly aged bourbon. This one follows 20 YO Barterhouse, 26 YO Old Blowhard and 20 YO Rhetoric. Lost Prophet is a 22 year old straight bourbon whiskey. Unlike its siblings which were distilled at the Old Bernheim or New Bernheim distilleries, Lost Prophet was distilled in 1991 at the George T. Stagg Distillery (now the Buffalo Trace Distillery). The mash bill for Lost Prophet Whiskey is 75-78% corn, 7-10% barley and 15% rye. So, how’s it taste? (Diageo provided a sample of Lost Prophet for this review)
Wow! For a 22 year old whiskey, I expected tons of oak. Instead I got some slightly burnt caramel, some oak (it IS 22 years old after all), leather, honey and butterscotch. There’s a soft entry on the palate. That means pretty easy sipping at 90.1 proof. There’s some caramel, followed immediately by some cinnamon and nutmeg spice. Oak is there, but kept in check for the age. There’s a slightly creamy character with this one too. Last but not least, there’s some vanilla on the back end. The finish is long, spicy and sweet, with a honey note left over.
Bottom line: Lost Prophet has made me a believer. This whiskey far surpasses Barterhouse, Old Blowhard & Rhetoric as leader of the pack. There’s much more balance in this than Old Blowhard and Barterhouse – not too sweet and not too spicy. A bottle of this should run about $120. If you’ve got the cash, pick this one up.
Rhetoric is the third release in Diageo’s Orphan Barrel lineup of whiskies. The first two releases, 26 year Old Blowhard and 20 year Barterhouse, were nice whiskies albeit a bit on the expensive side. Rhetoric is also a 20 year old straight bourbon whiskey. It was most probably distilled at the new Bernheim distillery, and aged at a Stizel-Weller warehouse. It seems to be the same mashbill as Barterhouse, but aged in a different part of the warehouse. What differentiates Rhetoric from its siblings is Diageo will continue to age the bourbon, releasing it once a year until it reaches a 25 year maturation point. So, this year we have a 20 year old bourbon. Next year we’ll have a 21 year old bourbon. This continues until we get a 25 year old Rhetoric bourbon in 2019.
(Disclaimer: I received a small sample of Rhetoric from Diageo.) I find the nose on Rhetoric similar to Barterhouse. Some oak, which is expected given its age. There was also some dried fruit (think light fruit cake) and a little bit of caramel. Taste-wise, I found this a bit creamier…more viscous than Barterhouse. The oak is there, but it’s not as in your face. There’s a bit of caramel too. The finish is quick, dry, and slightly bittersweet.
Overall, this is my favorite of the three bourbons in the Orphan Barrel series. Rhetoric is 90 proof and will run you about $100. It’s $15 more expensive than Barterhouse, yet both are 20 year old bourbons. I liked Barterhouse enough to buy myself a bottle after I reviewed it. Part of me wishes I would have waited to try Rhetoric first. To me, the difference in taste is worth the extra $15… that’s considering you don’t mind paying a C-Note for a bottle of bourbon. It holds its flavors together better than Barterhouse. Also, progressively aging and releasing this bourbon makes for an interesting experiment.