Orphan Barrel - Gifted Horse American Whiskey


Nose: This one smells both sweet and minty to me. There’s also a little bit of cinnamon and you also get whiffs of alcohol. Later sniffs brought out some sweet corn. Much later (toward the end) sniffs seemed to get sweeter to me. Palate: This starts out thick and chewy and then a blast of heat kicks in right before the finish and lasts all the way through it. The finish is pretty long and the heat borders on harsh, but never quite gets so bad that it is annoying. It is on the “dry” side. It seems leave an aftertaste that is similar to a dry wine, only with a lot more alcohol. I wouldn’t describe this as “sweet” but it does have a lot of classic bourbon undertones. It seems to have a variety of competing flavors going on, but none seem to come to prominence. It may be because it is balanced, but it isn’t balanced in a way I’ve seen in other bourbons I’d describe as balanced. Yeah, I know, that’s kinda “waffly” and I’m sorry. I had a very hard time trying to figure out if this might have a decent amount of rye in the mashbilll. It doesn’t scream rye, but it almost seems like there are some underlying rye notes in it. I don’t think I’ll be surprised either way. I don’t think this is great, or even lives up to the “story”, but it isn’t awful. To be quite honest though, I don’t think today was a good day to taste it. For one, it might be too warm for this type of bourbon and for another, I think I’m “burnt out” on the high proofs for now. I also had a couple of beers yesterday and I think that may be throwing things off a bit. Comments: This is 115 proof. It is sourced from MGP (Indiana) and the Bernheim Distillery. The story goes that this was an “accident” where 17 year old bourbon (38.5%) was “accidentally” mixed with a 4 year old bourbon (51%) and some 4 year old corn whiskey (10.5%). Like many other reviewers, I don’t buy it. Orphan Barrel’s whole schtick is finding lonely barrels, forgotten in rickhouses….etc, etc. Like others, I think it is far more likely that this is a case of 17 year old barrels that were left to age too long and, since they would not stand on their own, they had to be blended with something else. I will say it is a noble attempt and not entirely bad, but as far as the Orphan Barrel lines goes, they have put out much better stuff. That is reflected in the price. I got the first bottle of this as a gift and bought the second, not realizing I already had it. I paid $50 for the 2nd bottle a few years ago. (This came out ill 2016.) Even at $50, I think there are better choices out there.