Rhetoric is one of alcohol giant Diageo’s Orphan Barrel releases, an experiment in whiskey aging and a lesson for whiskey drinkers on the effects of wood and time. We announced this release back in April, and now we’re finally getting the opportunity to taste what 23-year old bourbon from early 90’s Bernheim Distillery stock tastes like.
These barrels were reportedly “found in the old Stitzel-Weller warehouses,” and while many of the Orphan Barrel releases tend to be one offs, the Rhetoric bottlings are released progressively to show the world what extended aging will do to a ‘control’ batch of familiar-tasting bourbon. Previous releases have included 20 through 22 year vintages, with the plan to culminate the series with an epically old 25-year expression.
Much has been written about Edwin Foote, the Bernheim Master Distiller during those years who counted Julian Van Winkle among his fans, and few doubt the quality of the initial distilled product. Overoaking, as one author has pointed out, would be the main concern as this liquid continues to age away (Elijah Craig 25, anyone?) while lacking the supervision of the man who planned this whiskey from day one. We were lucky enough to taste the newly released 23-year along side the 22-year, which allowed for some good insight in to the progression of this liquid and hopeful thoughts for the grandaddy 25-year project.