The Gifted Horse is the latest release from The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Co., an enterprise that rescues forgotten barrels of whiskey and bottles them. In this case, The Gifted Horse is purportedly a mistake–the result of a 17-year-old whiskey being accidentally mixed with much younger whiskeys. Whether that’s believable or not we’ll leave up to you. We’re just here to taste the stuff.
The Gifted Horse is comprised of 38.5% 17-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon that was distilled at the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, KY, plus 51% four-year-old bourbon and 10.5% four-year-old corn whiskey–both produced “at a high-quality distillery in Indiana.” That would be code for mass-scale distiller MGP Ingredients.
On the nose, The Gifted Horse is sporting aromas of toffee, vanilla, raisins, toasted grains and heavy oak. Take a sip, and there’s more of the same plus the addition of chocolate, almonds, caramel and apples. It finishes very dry with lots of oak and spice.
That wood presence is pervasive and tannic, and this whiskey actually drinks like two whiskeys in one, which makes sense considering we’re drinking a very old bourbon that’s been mixed with a couple of young corn-dominant whiskeys. The Gifted Horse certainly isn’t lacking for flavor, but it’s a bit confusing. The corn and grain elements taste young, whereas the 17-year-old oak is powerful to the point of being astringent.
The Gifted Horse is an interesting whiskey to be sure, and we appreciate the chance to drink some 17 year old Bernheim juice. But we’d have liked to see more balance between the trio going into the bottle. We’re always happy to sample experiments, but for $50 you could buy two bottles of better, more balanced whiskey.
— 57.5% ABV
CE Review: ★★★