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Review: Diageo Orphan Barrel Project Rhetoric Bourbon 24 Years Old

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It’s hard to believe but Diageo’s Rhetoric line is now at 24 years old, in its fifth installment out of what will eventually be a total of six. As a reminder, the bourbon was sourced from Louisville’s Bernheim Distillery and was made from a mash of 86% corn, 8% barley, and 6% rye.

I took the opportunity to quickly run through the full lineup, to see how my impressions of this bourbon — which I’ve found to be exceptional throughout its release cycle — had evolved.

Looking back at Rhetoric 20, wood dominates but otherwise the bourbon finds a decent balance. At 21, I got solid licorice and dark chocolate notes, while 22 found some mint added to the mix. Rhetoric 23 was my least favorite of the bunch at this tasting, a heavy eucalyptus flavor overwhelming the experience, giving it a bitter edge on the finish. I’ll be curious to see what I think about it come 2019 and Rhetoric 25.

And so on to Rhetoric 24 Years Old. It’s a spicy and butterscotch-sweet whiskey with little resemblance to my sample of Rhetoric 23, a chocolate-heavy nose running into notes of barrel char, baking spice, and cardamon. There’s a touch of camphor on the finish, but the bold vanilla extract notes give it sound footing regardless. Past 20 years of age, bourbon can easily get undone by wood, but Rhetoric 24 is still fighting the good fight, at least for one more year.

90.8 proof.

A- / $130 / diageo.com

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Diageo Orphan Barrel Project Rhetoric Bourbon 24 Years Old
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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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