Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Review

orphan barrel rhetoric 22 Review

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 is the latest release in the Rhetoric aging experiment. Made from stocks ”…discovered in warehouses at the Stitzel-Weller facility in Louisville, Ky., and distilled in both the New and Old Bernheim distilleries in Louisville. The whiskey is beautifully aged and hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tenn.”

The Rhetoric 20 was released in 2014 and in 2015 they released the Rhetoric 21 and now in 2016 the 22 has been released. The Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 marks the 1/2 way mark on their march to 25 years which is the final destination for this experiment.

Until the Whoop and Holler came along and stole the title, the Rhetorics have been my favorite releases in the OB line. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an exciting release I was looking forward to trying, and the details are in the Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Review below, but it’s no longer home to my favorites. Setting that aside, the one thing I’ll give away up here is that with the Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22, the Rhetoric line-up is really beginning to show its age.

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Bottler: Orphan Barrel Whiskey Company
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye & 12% Barley
Cask: New Charred Oak
Age: 22 Years
ABV: 45.2%

Price: $120*

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Review

Ruddy caramel

Oak, vanilla, cocoa, toffee, stone fruit, spice and light notes of dried blueberries, Smarties and dark fruit leather. The oak is noticeably higher and more prevalent than in previous batches. It’s going to be interesting to see where it goes from here and how they blend the next couple of batches.

Oak, caramel, vanilla, apricots, peanut brittle, oily nuts and a complex spice that’s lead by nutmeg and clove. Light bits of biscuits and citrus marmalade help give it a nice multi-faceted character.

Long oaky fade accompanied with notes of dark fruit, dark sweets, vanilla and mint.

Good sense of balance with the oak being held in check, but just. A medium body and a dry tannic feel that isn’t light, but isn’t heavy either.

The Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 is edging towards over-oaked. It hasn’t hit that point just yet, but it’s moving in that direction. The dark tannic earthy oak is beginning to creep in over the top of the dark fruit and sweets driven character and beginning to knock it off balance, but then that’s supposed to happen. That’s the entire point of the Rhetoric line. To find out when the oak gets to be too much.

As a continued piece of the aging experiment the Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 is awesome, and also why I already bought one, but it also works well as a daily drinker if you’re into the darker oaken profiles like I am. If you’re not… well then don’t grab this one.

SCORE: 89/100 (B+)

*Disclosure: This Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.
Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 91
  • Palate - 89
  • Finish - 89
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 88


Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 is a decent bourbon… let’s see how next year shakes out!

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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4 Responses to Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Review

  1. Just bought one today..it is almost at that point of to long in the barrel but it’s a better whiskey than the whoop and holler,that was a big disappointment in my opinion.

  2. Just had this in Vegas and I loved it. I want to match the profile with a more available bourbon. Need not be super cheap, but I want something like this as a “go to” so I never have to owner if it’s available or not. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Hey Tom, you can sometimes get this deep oaky flavor from Russell’s Single Barrels, 10+ Years Four Roses Single Barrels and Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bottles, but to get these deeply oaky profiles is a bit tough these days.

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