Barterhouse 20 Year Old


Barterhouse 20 year old is part of Diageo’s Orphan Barrel series. It is a 20 year old Kentucky Bourbon, and Diageo have rather mysteriously mentioned where it was matured (Stitzel Weller warehouses) but no more information on the Orphan Barrel website. Diageo don’t currently own a Bourbon distillery (editor update: they have just installed a small batch still at Stitzel Weller) but they once did: Stitzel Weller, Old Bernheim and a different New Bernheim. To read more about the whole range, check out John Hansell’s Whisky Advocate Blog. According to sources (Chuck Cowdery and the Whisky Exchange) this was distilled at the New Bernheim distillery, matured at Stitzel Weller and bottled at George Dickel.

In terms of the concept, I like the pricing, I like the idea of Diageo digging out some of their old casks (potentially from closed distilleries) and I hope Diageo consider doing it again in other markets with some of their old stock, but I have to agree with Chuck Cowdery on some of his points: I don’t like the lack of information about each whiskey, or some of the marketing blurb written about each bottle (Barterhouse 20 year old marketing below).

Twenty years in American Oak will make your average spirit a bit mellow. Take all the fight out. Well this here is no ordinary spirit, and twenty years is long enough to pick up a trick or two. For one barrel in particular, it was long enough to develop the gift of a silver tongue. The old rickhouse hands had it written off as a rumor. A character so smooth, it could clean out the card sharps and take the shirt off a travelling salesman’s back.

But the rumors were true. And when the chips are in, a smooth operator can be mighty persuasive indeed. One sip of Barterhouse Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and you just might find yourself forgiving Robert Johnson for trading his soul to the very devil himself.

Instead of the marketing stuff above, they should have told us lots of details about source of the whiskey, mashbill, and other things. Check out Chuck’s blog for more of his thoughts on the subject.  I have read quite a bit on both John Hansell and Chuck’s blog, and I encourage you to check both out.

Now that you have a bit more information, and a bit of constructive criticism on brand launching, what is the liquid like.

Barterhouse 20 Year Old
Kentucky Bourbon
45.1% Abv
Buy it here for £89.95

Nose: Vanilla, pear notes, blackcurrant, wood sugar, creamy notes and oaky/spicy notes.

The nose shows of some interesting wood sugar fruity notes, oak and a bit of spice.

Palate: Big oaky notes, so tannic and drying. Malt notes, burnt wood. Caremelised sugar and a bit of honey.

I couldn’t get over the oakiness on the palate. It is far too strong. The end of the palate and finish was far too long.

Not a winner for me. I think it is over oaked. Hopefully I will get other chances to try the rest of the range.

Chris Hoban

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