Diageo Launches Orphan Barrel Project (Updated)

Article by Justin Thompson

The much anticipated Orphan Barrel project from Diageo is finally ready to launch its first offerings.  Barterhouse Whiskey and Old Blowhard Whiskey will be the first two labels from the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company, which is the distilling company name Diageo is using possibly so consumers won’t confuse these labels with other brands the company owns.


According to media material Diageo provided, the mission of the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company (which resides in Tullahoma, TN) is to bring to life barrels of whiskey that were lost or misplaced from different warehouses they own all over the world.  According to the press release, “Orphan Barrel whiskies will be sourced from wherever our team is able to find these forgotten, rare collections of beautiful whiskey.  From Tennessee to Kentucky to Scotland and Ireland, we believe there is a treasure trove of liquid to be discovered and shared with true whiskey fans everywhere.”


Both Barterhouse and Blowhard are Bourbons from the fabled Stitzel-Weller facility located in Louisville, KY.  Diageo is not releasing what brand or brands these whiskies were initially distilled for, but they have released their mashbill (86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye) which they both share.  Because these Bourbons contain rye and not wheat, you can rule out Old-Fitzgerald as a candidate for what these barrels might have originally been distilled for.  Old-Fitzgerald was one of the flagship Bourbons Stitzel-Weller was famous for distilling and contained wheat instead of rye in its mashbill.


Barterhouse Whiskey is aged at least 20 years and comes in at 90.2 proof (45.1% ABV) and has a suggested retail value of $75 a bottle (750ml).  Blowhard Whiskey is aged at least 6 years longer (26 years) and is bottled at 90.7 proof (45.35% ABV).  It’s suggested retail value is $150.


[Update on 2/13/14}

Old Blowhard and Barterhouse were originally created at the Bernheim Distillery decades ago (17th street and Breckinridge in Louisville).  At the time, both the Bernheim Distillery and Stitzel-Weller (the distillery where these gems were ultimately found) were owned by United Distillers.  Barrels of Barterhouse and Old Blowhard whiskies were originally stored in masonry rack warehouses that were anywhere from 9 to 12 stories high with central steam heat.