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September 8, 2023 (edited October 11, 2023)
4.0 out of 5 stars
I bought this bottle years ago--it was released in early 2016--and maybe there's a reason that I still have a quarter of it remaining (or maybe it's the fact that there's so much whiskey to taste). The Diageo marketing "story" is that this offering, part of its "Orphan Barrel" series, is the result of "a whopper of a mistake" on their part, which involved someone "emptying barrels of much-younger whiskey into a batch of beautiful 17-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey."
The naive, overly-zealous whiskeyphile me had to buy it and see what this mistake was all about. I recalled it being good, but not great. So without further adieu...
The color is a slightly darker version of the typical bourbon caramel/mahohany/russet. The nose is pleasant, and shows oranges, maraschino cherries, apple pie, crème brûlée, sandalwood, and vanilla. The palate turns these up a notch, and the finish opens up some drying leather and tobacco notes, with additional vanilla. There's also a faint butteriness on the back end that I've never experienced in a bourbon (or whiskey, as is the case here)--akin to the diacetyl that one sometimes finds in overoaked Cali Chardonnay.
I like this. As before, good, but not great. Assuming the mashbill lineage to be correct, the bourbon does show characteristics of each component: dry leathery and tobacco notes from the 17-year-old whiskey; sweetness from the corn whiskey; and who knows what from the MGP. The whiskey is smooth, and the heat is not out-of-step with the 115 proof. 4.0 on the Distiller scale.
I don't know what I paid for it years back, but I do recall (like the others in the Orphan Barrel series) that it wasn't cheap. Perhaps $100? A quick Internet search shows that it can be purchased today for $400-500, ostensibly because of the scarcity (there was only one release). I would certainly drink this again, but not at current prices. For those who insist on empirical analysis, find a friend!
115 proof. 39% 17-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; 61% 4-year-old Corn Whiskey and Indiana Bourbon Whiskey (i.e., MGP).
N.B.: All spirits tasted neat in a Glencairn glass.