Rhetoric 23

Rhetoric 23

Rhetoric 23 is a Bourbon bottled by Orphan Barrel at 45.3%. Rhetoric was reportedly originally distilled at the Bernheim distillery with a corn heavy mash, and thereafter aged at the Stizel-Weller facility. When Diageo got their paws on it, they decided to release a series of vintages that show the progression of a very old bourbon, releasing a new Rhetoric with sequential age statement every year since the whiskey was 20 years old. As such, this is the fourth of a planned six releases.

Rhetoric gets a bit of flack for being trashy juice, aged far too long and then sold for a premium price to people who don’t know better. I guess I don’t know better, cause I bought a bottle. As a newcomer to the bourbon world, one gets few chances to taste the effect of long aging on a bourbon. Rhetoric is just accessible enough to make that possible. In that way, I think it’s a pretty reasonable deal.

This review was done blind in a set of 21 blind bourbon (and rye) reviews, tasted in sets of 3 (on different days). None of the whiskies were revealed until all 21 were drunk. More information about this setup in the first review of the series.

1. Old Forester 1920
2. Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch 2017
3. Four Roses Single Barrel OESK (Brookline Liquor Mart pick)
4. Kentucky Owl Rye (batch 1)
5. Weller Antique 107
6. Rowan's Creek
7. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof #12 (136 proof)
8. Old Forester Statesman
9. Michter's 10yo Bourbon
10. Henry McKenna 10yo BiB
11. Weller 12
12. Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7yo
13. Rhetoric 23
14. George T. Stagg 2017
15. Four Roses Single Barrel OBSV (Loch & Key Pick)
16. Maker's 46
17. Jack Daniels Single Barrel Bottled in Bond
18. Little Book “The Easy” (2017)

Distiller: Bernheim Distillery (early 90s)
ABV: 45.3%
Age: 23yo
Setting: Blind, in a trio with George T. Stagg 2017 and Four Roses OBSV Loch & Key Pick.

Nose: Cardboard, sharp cherry with an acetone edge, worn leather furniture, dry oak, funky seasoned wood, a diesel (Caroni Rum) note, brazil nuts, tobacco and pine shoots. A pretty interesting and enjoyable nose.
Palate: Oak explosion. Smooth, cereal and wood. Clings to your palate and then dries it aggressively.
Finish: Drying oak, leather and vanilla. No sweetness at all. I get how somepeople wouldn’t like this, but I quite dig it.
Overall: I would stay away from this one if you don’t want something seriously oak heavy. To me it reminds me of some of my favourite rums, together with that bourbon corn kick. That makes me really, really enjoy this. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Guess: I have a sneaking suspicion that this is Rhetoric. What can I say, I really like this.
Rank: 7
Reveal: Well, I guess I like it more than I thought I did. I will have to spend some quality time really going over this one again in the future.