Booze Review

Whisky Review – Orphan Barrel The Gifted Horse


The recipe for the above cocktail (The Neigh Sayer. Get it?) can be found on our Cocktail Recipe page. Click the pic to get there.

A few Fridays ago, our youngest boys were having a sleepover at G-LO’s house. Always the dutiful father, I followed my little guy over to G-LO’s and waited there while he got acclimated. G-LO, always the gracious host, saw that I was thirsty from my 42 foot walk and offered me a beverage. Nothing cuts the dust quite like a whisky, so he poured us a bit of The Gifted Horse.

The Gifted Horse is the latest release from the Orphan Barrel Whisky Distilling Company (a member of the Diageo Empire). The Gifted Horse is a blend of 38.5% 17 Year Old Bernheim Bourbon, 51% Four Year Old MGP Bourbon and 10.5% 4 Year Old MGP Corn Whiskey which is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Here’s what Diageo has to say the Orphan Barrel’s Gifted Horse in their press release:

Some time ago at the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Ky., a batch of beautiful 17-year-old Kentucky bourbon was accidentally mixed with barrels of much younger whiskey. This error turned out better than anyone could have expected as the older bourbon wasn’t marred, but was transformed into something surprisingly special. Realizing this unique liquid deserved a home, The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co. releases the The Gifted Horse American Whiskey.

While I do not believe for a minute that there is ever any “accidental” mixing of whisky by anyone, anywhere in the whisky world, Diageo spins an interesting tale. And, we are left with a blend of wheated bourbon, rye bourbon and corn whisky. Let’s move on to our impressions of Orphan Barrel’s latest offering…

  • ABV: 57.5%
  • Appearance: While G-LO throws out Burnt Sienna, I’m not sure what that means, so I’ll call it dark orange.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Murphy’s Oil Soap, astringent, Crème Brule and candied oranges.
    • G-LO: Smells like it has a healthy dose of rye in it thanks to the prominent herbal notes. Burnt sugar, clove, allspice, some licorice and maybe some kerosene are also in there.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: With the wheat and the corn, I had expected a little sweetness upfront. However, this was not overtly sweet to the taste. Instead, there was a quick jump right to the heat followed by some grainy sharpness (here comes the rye) with some follow-up heat ending in a somewhat short finish.
    • G-LO: Really oily mouthfeel. Also, really astringent. Too oaky perhaps? Usually, a whisky grows on me as I drink more of it. This is not one of those times. The stuff I picked up in the nose seems to have gotten lost. All I get is oiliness, too much oak, and a lingering wet, wheat bread taste in my mouth.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: About the only thing going on here is the heat. This was not particularly flavorful, balanced, or interesting, but it was hot. I could see this as more of a shot than a sippin’ whisky. With water, the heat is muted and further exposes the imbalance of flavors. Shoot it straight and follow it up with a beer.
  • G-LO: I was excited to try this whisky thanks to its being bottled at a higher ABV, but sadly, that’s all it has going for it. Something just tastes way off.


 Many thanks to Josh Colfin of Taylor Strategy for sending us this sample!

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