Orphan Barrel

Gifted Horse Whiskey Review

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.

Photo courtesy of Diageo.

Photo courtesy of Diageo.

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.

(Note: A small review sample was provided by Diageo.)

Forged Oak Bourbon Whiskey Review


Forged Oak is the latest release from Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series.  The youngest bourbon of the group, Forged Oak is 15 years old and 90.5 proof.  Forged Oak is also the cheapest in the series.  A bottle should run you about $65.  It was distilled at the new Bernheim distillery in Louisville between 1997-1998 and aged at the Stitzel-Weller warehouses.  It’s mash bill is 86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye.  Looks like a really low percentage of rye.  How does it fare in a glass? (more…)

Lost Prophet Bourbon Whiskey Review


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.