Skip to Content

Last Week in Bourbon March 18-24, 2024

Last Week in Bourbon March 18-24, 2024

Orphan Barrel’s newest addition

Is it just me or does Orphan Barrel do the absolute bare minimum for press releases when it comes to their new launches? I didn’t even know they were launching their newest label: Indigo’s Hour until Wednesday. And before I comment on the bottle itself, I need to ask the question: what’s up with sticking a color word in every release? There was “Copper” Tongue, then “Scarlet” Shade and now “Indigo’s” Hour. Am I the only one seeing this? It’s weird, right?

Boycott Diageo until they bottle Orphan Barrel at something other than 90 proof

Anyway, Diageo says that the new bottle will be a blend of 18 year old bourbon from Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky. Obviously the Tennessee bourbon is from Cascade Hollow and the Indiana bourbon is from MGP, but where is the Kentucky bourbon from? I assume they still have some old barrels in their Stitzel-Weller warehouses. Maybe it’s excess barrels of IW Harper or the mash bill that Forged Oak/Barterhouse/Rhetoric was.

When I first saw the bourbon makeup, I thought of a really witty nickname for it: “Orphan Barrell.” See what I did there? Funny, right? Hello? Guys?

Speaking of Barrell…

Barrell seems to be in trouble. Details have been slowly leaking out, but some sleuths out there have found real estate listings for Barrell’s new rickhouse (the listing was mysteriously pulled after it was found out) AND their brand new facility they just opened in Jeffersonville. Owners of other NDPs have also stated that they have also been approached with pricing lists for the 7500 barrels of whiskey that Barrell has in stock right now (along with bulk glass bottles).

It doesn’t get much better from there – they laid off their whole sales staff early in the year after a disappointing 2023 year. Rumor has it sales have dropped enormously on their products, which may be why we see so many price cuts on their products. But laying off the sales staff may not be as bad of a sign as it initially looks. Barrell is now using a third-party sales agency to handle what their previous sales team did. This technically saves money albeit at the expense of having less control over the salesmen. And speaking of sales, I’ve noticed a sharp drop off of targeted ads across social media and even the advertisements they were doing before some of the larger podcasts out there.

Barrell doesn’t seem to want to comment on any of it at the moment and the only news out of them so far is that they are expecting to release their brand into the UK this summer. Also, their scheduled releases (Bourbon Batch 036, Cask Finished Series: Mizunara and more) are still coming out as planned.

I don’t know what to think about all of this. I may write an article on it soon, but I’m also going to have to wait for more details to emerge. I guess my initial reaction is that it’s starting to make sense what I’ve been seeing for a few years now. I have been quite vocal about how the prices that they’ve charged for Gray and Gold label products don’t add up when you look at the estimated cost of their components. I’ve even picked up on the fact they’re using cheaper stocks of whiskey more frequently like Canadian whisky, MGP’s “price conscious” 99/1 bourbon mash bill and an increase in craft whiskey being used. They’ve also slashed annual bourbon releases in half – from 4 to 2 and their Stellum lineup didn’t make a lot of sense when it came to pricing.

However, Barrell is still the girl that brought me into this crazy dance known as bourbon, so I’m going to wish the best for them and hope that this is just a course correction – and not a ship that’s starting to sink. We all have a lot to thank them for as far as being “THE business model” for how NDPs operate. They also helped take the stigma out of the word “blend,” which was previously a dirty word in the whiskey community

Get well soon, Barrell.

This year’s “Worst Whiskey Label” goes to…

Blue Shepherd Spirts. Recently, two labels have been approved by the TTB (thanks, Irish!) and these are laughably the worst ones I’ve ever seen. It looks like they were done on PowerPoint. The dog’s head in the picture isn’t even blue, it’s gray (so should they have named it “Gray Shepherd Spirits?”).

A distillery like this must have some balls to not only release a hideous label, but to put whiskey that’s been aged for 6 months into it. I swear, we need a law that outlaws releasing whiskey aged under 3 years old (kind of like Scotland does, or else it can’t be called a whiskey). I have never heard anyone drink a whiskey this young and say “wow! I’m so glad they decided to dump this barrel early!” Besides, it’s such a waste of oak for any distillery to go through so many barrels just to put out a subpar product.

Please, I’m begging you, send me a picture of the bottle if you see this on the shelf. I must know if this ever made it to production!

Knob Creek Bourbon x Rye has me excited

I’m probably a minority in this, but I love “bourye’s.” I find that the rye whiskey component gives additional spice and fruit notes to bourbons that otherwise are lacking. Jim Beam’s bourbon is kind of lacking in fruit notes anyway, so I fully expect the addition of rye whiskey to fix that.

Knob Creek Bourbon X Rye is going to be bottled at a respectable 113 proof. You won’t get any complaints from me about that one. I’m not quite sure when it’ll be released, but this is a good thing. I’d love to a shift in more distilleries creating a bourye rather than giving us another “Toasted Barrel” release. Ugh. Are we done with that phase yet?

Jack Daniel’s 14 Year

Remember when Jack Daniel’s teased us with this sneak peek of their scheduled releases for age-stated of Tennessee Whiskey?

Well it turns out that it wasn’t so set in stone. I mean, maybe they are going to do 10, 12, 15 and 18 year old releases still, but this 14 year release certainly throws a wrench into my spokes for thinking I knew what was coming. And I guess it’s not really a bad thing to do 2-year intervals. The public wants it, Jack wants to make money, so why not?

By the way, I think that the proof numbers are susceptible to change, so don’t count on an age-stated release being bottled this high in proof.

Wild Turkey 70th Anniversary brings back an age statement to Wild Turkey 101

I promise I’m not being disrespectful or morbid when I say that Jimmy Russell doesn’t appear to be in good health. So it’s a good idea for Campari to roll out with an anniversary edition that honors him.

This is a nice throwback to the days before 1993 (or was in 1994?) where Wild Turkey 101 had an 8 year old age statement on it. Honestly, Wild Turkey probably has enough barrels in their warehouses right now to keep this age statement on it permananently, but I guess we’ll see next year if they keep this up.

I did a review on the 8-year-old export version of Wild Turkey 101 a few months ago and found it to be slightly better than the standard 101 we have here in the US, but nothing that was too remarkable. I guess I was hoping more for a “Wild Turkey 12/101 Jr” and what I ended up getting was more of a “Wild Turkey 101+.” Oh well.

Still, barrel selection is going to have a lot to do with the overall flavor profile, so maybe they’ll find some of those real fruity barrels that they created the 12 year product with. A guy can dream!

Featured Products

  • Neat Traveler
  • View Larger
  • Description:The Aged & Ore Neat Traveler is a complete travel kit for spirits. We combined our widely praised Neat Glass with one of our 3oz Flight Bottles and housed them together in a custom EVA travel case. Perfect for a night away with your favorite pour. The tie
  • Bottle Flight
  • View Larger
  • Description:The Aged & Ore Bottle Flight is a premium set of 4 custom silicone wrapped glass bottles designed to transport and share samples of your favorite spirits. The flight bottles come in a custom EVA travel case that fits perfectly in any small bag. An Aged &
  • Travel Bundle
  • View Larger
  • Description:This Bundle combines two of our crowd favorite products, creating the ultimate travel bundle to bring along your favorite spirits and glassware. Bundle Includes: Neat Traveler (Gray) Bottle Flight (Gray) Note: This bundle is only available in gray and col

*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.