Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 Review

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 Review

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 is stop number 4 on Rhetoric’s climb to 25. Another year older and another year… oakier. Which is biggest difference I noticed between this and the 22. They both have similar profiles, just this one is a bit oaken and drier and it’s the first release of the Rhetorics where I’ve picked up a strong tannic profile. Though as you can see it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.

In Orphan Barrel’s Words: Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23

“Rhetoric23-Year-OldKentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the tenth releasefrom the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company and the fourth in the Rhetoric series of progressively aged whiskeys. Aged three years longer than the first release, it is slightly more mature and carries a higher proof. The whiskey will continue to be progressively aged and re-released annually at a year older, allowing whiskey aficionados to collect the series and compare the whiskeys side-by-side.”

This series is by far my favorite of the Orphan Barrel release and I look forward to it every year. I’m especially looking forward to the 25 year in 2019 so I can sit down and taste them all together, blind of course. But that’s 2 years away, right now we’re focusing on the Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 review.

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Bottler: Orphan Barrel Whiskey Company
Mashbill: 86% corn, 8% barley, and 6% rye
Cask: New Charred Oak
Age: 23 Years
ABV: 45.3%

Price: $150

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 Review

Dark amber

OAK with notes of caramel, vanilla, roasted nuts, roasted grain, dark fruit and bits of clove, biscuits and sandalwood.

Big slab of oak with layers of caramel, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, roasted nuts, roasted grain, dried fruit and light bits of biscuits, vanilla and soap.

Long oaky fade of caramel, clove, vanilla and biscuits.

Decent balance, full heavy body and a dry tannic feel.

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 carries a big dollop of oak throughout and is the singular most defining character of this whiskey which has begun to knock it off balance a bit. It’s also introduced a tannic nature that’s a bit like an over-steeped tea and some bits of acetone. It’ll be interesting to see how it continues to change as it quietly ages in the Stitzel-Weller warehouses over the next two years.

Though in 2020 I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an Old Blowhard 2 that just happened to get “found” a year after the Rhetoric series concludes. They could also not be pulling out collective legs and the Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 is two steps away from the end of their readily available super aged bourbons. Time will tell…

SCORE: 88/100 (B+)

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 89
  • Palate - 88
  • Finish - 89
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 88


Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 is good. I still like the “younger” ones better.

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 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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6 Responses to Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23 Review

  1. Awesome review Josh. I hope to one day be able to give this a try, or any Orphan Barrel whiskey for that matter. Keep up the great posts!

  2. I was under the impression that a whiskey with a mashbill of over 80% corn was to be labeled as corn whiskey. Can you clarify?

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