The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company locates and bottles forgotten barrels of whiskey from around the world. It’s noble work. And their fifth release is Forged Oak, a 15 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Forged Oak was produced at the current Bernheim Distillery between 1997-1998, and it was found in the Stitzel-Weller warehouses in Louisville. The whiskey is hand-bottled in Tullahoma, TN and sports a mashbill that’s 86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye.
Orphan Barrel Forged Oak Bourbon pours a shimmering, red-hued caramel in the glass. On the nose, there’s plenty of wood and spice up front, plus sweeter notes like maple and vanilla loitering in the background. Take a sip, and that spicy profile continues, with cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper leading the charge. The strong wood presence comes out here, too, leaving the mouth dry and puckery. Toward the end, some chocolate begins to show itself, along with dark fruits and just a touch of cooling mint.
There’s a lot going on here, and the whole package is spicier than your traditional bourbon, and certainly spicier than the 86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye mashbill would suggest. There’s a lot of wood influence from those 15 years spent in American oak barrels, and while the spice outweighs the sweet notes, there’s just enough vanilla and caramel to keep things in check.
– 45.25% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★