August 5, 2015 – Bourbon is booming and enthusiasts are clamoring for unique tasting experiences worthy of discussion and debate. The release of Rhetoric 21-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will give them something to talk about.
This is a great opportunity for the rest of us to explore the effects of aging or maturation. Rhetoric is re-released annually to explore the flavor characteristics imparted by each additional year the bourbon spends in wood, allowing for side-by-side comparisons. So don’t drink it all.
The press release explains that the latest Rhetoric was aged in charred American oak barrels for one year longer than last year’s 20-Year-Old release. It is a rich, complex bourbon representing an exciting evolution in the progressively aged Rhetoric series. Throughout the process, the base Rhetoric whiskey remains unchanged, with progressive aging expected to continue through the release of Rhetoric 25-Year-Old in 2019. As we said above don’t drink it all or buy a few bottles. You’re going to want to compare the six bottles, side by side.
We wondered about the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company and how it got started. It was created in 2014 to find and share forgotten barrels of whiskey with discerning fans. Rhetoric 21-Year-Old follows five previous Orphan Barrel bourbons: Barterhouse (20-Year-Old), Old Blowhard (26-Year-Old), Rhetoric (20-Year-Old), Lost Prophet (22-Year-Old) and Forged Oak (15-Year-Old).
Rhetoric stocks were found at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, KY. The bourbon was distilled in 1993 at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, while owned and operated by United Distillers.
“The progressive aging experiment we’re employing with the Rhetoric series is incredibly unique,” said Ewan Morgan, Master of Whiskey for Diageo (creators and owners of the Orphan Barrel program). “We’re going to be able to compare a line of bourbons side-by-side to see how aspects of the liquid – color, aroma, flavors and mouthfeel – are impacted by extra time spent in the barrel. Like many others, I’m looking forward to tasting what one extra year in the barrel does to these bourbons over the coming years.”
The tasting notes describe this year’s release of Rhetoric 21-Year-Old as richer and more complex, with a fuller mouthfeel and slightly higher proof of 90.2 (45.1% ABV). Aromas of cherry, sweet tobacco, honey and leather build upon the oak, fruit, vanilla and caramel of Rhetoric 20-Year-Old. New tasting notes of sweet tobacco, dark chocolate, baking spices and honey complement the charred wood, caramel, vanilla and black pepper spice of Rhetoric 20-Year-Old. Rhetoric 21-Year-Old will be available nationwide in allocated quantities for a suggested retail price of $100 for a 750 mL bottle. We’ve heard it is less expensive in some markets and more expensive in others.
We “borrowed” the photo from Nino Marchetti’s web site “The Whiskey Wash” a site worth checking out. Diageo is the biggest drinks company in the world but they don’t have a photo of this new release on their web site or anywhere else that we could find. Not the first time we’ve run into this problem.