December 24, 2014

Christmas Orphans Part III - Old Blowhard

Here's the final installment of our "What's Christmas without some grubby Orphans?" special... We're giving Diageo's bastard stepchildren "The Orphan Barrels" a shot at redemption. Call it a foster home, a last shot at adoption from the liquor store orphanage. 

Well so far all the hate for Orphan Barrels seems to be a bit overblown.  True, Diageo made some dubious claims in marketing these bottles.  Clearly tens of thousands of bottles worth of old bourbon didn't just "turn up" in one of their warehouses.  Obviously the shady ploy of dropping the Stitzel-Weller name really rubbed people the wrong way.  And the hokey names with old-timey packaging aren't doing them any favors either. But so far we've tasted Barterhouse and Rhetoric and as far as the actual whiskey, they've both been pretty tasty.

We liked Barterhouse a lot more than Rhetoric, but both were 20 year bourbon with pretty good flavor, at a very reasonable price in today's market of around $80 retail.  Today we get to try the oldest orphan, the 26 year Old Blowhard.  This one is sourced from Heaven Hill's Old Bernheim Distillery, which has been the source of some of our favorite juice. Old Blowhard comes in around $150 retail, so we're hoping for a real knockout.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Big difference on the nose between this one and the other two. It's quite woody and punchy with a lot of spice, dried orange peels, tobacco, oak oak oak.

Palate:  It's definitely dry and sort of musty.  It's got a lot of spice: pepper, cloves, some black licorice, and a little beef jerky.

Finish:  It sort of dies on the finish. It's big and cracking and woody but then it just kind of fizzles out and ends a little sour and short.


We're conflicted on this one. It's good. Definitely not slumming it drinking a glass of the Old Blow. And it's a pretty rare opportunity to drink 26 year old bourbon.  So on that front it's kind of a treat. But then there's the negatives: At $150 it's definitely not a knockout. As a matter of fact on sheer taste, put this guy next to Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or a nice Willett private barrel and it pales in comparison. It sort of tastes like there were a lot of flaws in this old stock and they had to go through a lot of filtering, down-proofing, and barrel mixing to get it to be drinkable. And that robs it of its character.

So, listen, if you're into trying different things, sharing nice bottles with friends, and you're not too concerned with price, pick up a bottle of the Blowhard. It's a cool experience and definitely interesting to try as a bourbon drinker. On the other hand if you're looking for the best drink for your money, definitely skip it. Try and grab a glass at a bar if you're curious but don't bring home a bottle. At the price point and relative age, we definitely give points to Elijah Craig 23 year at $200.

Cheers & Merry Christmas!   /SB

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