NEW RELEASE: Orphan Barrel’s First Ever Rye, “Scarlet Shade” Aged 14 Years

Orphan Barrel "Scarlet Shade", 1st Ever Rye Release.

Diageo owned Orphan Barrel has just released its first ever rye whiskey, aged 14 years, named “Scarlet Shade”.

The Orphan Barrel brand roots goes back to 2014 with its inaugural offering “Old Blowhard”, a 26 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon, SRP $149.99. That price for that age – my have times changed (tear shed). The brand storyline is built on the foundation of discovering “lost whiskey” on the grounds of now Diageo owned Stitzel-Weller Distillery. SWD, opened Derby Day 1935, was founded by Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle I.

Orphan Barrel’s 1st Release circa 2014, Old Blowhard. From Orphan Barrel website

Per the brand, Scarlet Shade liquid was born in Indiana but raised (aged) in Kentucky so to speak.


  • “Scarlet Shade”
  • 1st rye release from Orphan Barrel
  • Aged 14 years
  • Debut May 1st; Nationwide Availability
  • SRP $199.99
  • 90 Proof
  • Indiana Distilled, Kentucky Aged
  • 1st blend created by Master Blender Samantha Johnson

Tasting Notes (Brand Provided): Sweet vanilla butter cream and lightly toasted oak aromas, tasting of warm baking spices, rye toast and orchard fruits, before warming into sweet orange marmalade and lingering as a dark chocolate finish. At 90 proof (45%), Rye fans can best enjoy Orphan Barrel Scarlet Shade neat or on the rocks.

About The Label Artwork: The vibrant label design pays homage to the history of Scarlet Shade. In the center, the cardinal – state bird of Indiana and Kentucky – is surrounded by Indiana’s state flower, the peony, and perched on a skull to honor lost loved ones. With its flash tattoo-style label, Scarlet Shade serves as a reminder to all who cross its path that the best whiskey memories last forever.

BIO: Master Blender Samantha Johnson: Since joining Diageo as a Quality Technician in 2018 and being named a Master Blender in 2020, Samantha has blended a number of fan-favorite, high-quality whiskies including I.W. Harper 15 Year-Old and Bulleit Rye. In fact, her very first blend—I.W. Harper 15 Year-Old—won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition that same year.

Samantha initially uncovered her passion for working with whiskey while completing her senior thesis at Hanover College where she sped up the maturation process by rapidly aging the liquid to mimic a 4-year-old aged whiskey. After graduation, she received her Master’s in agriculture (with a focus in food science and management) from Washington State University and landed a position as a Quality Technician at Bulleit Bourbon Distillery.

The release of Scarlet Shade will mark her first offering under the Orphan Barrel brand.

Master Blender Samantha Johnson. Courtesy

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