Diageo, the global spirits powerhouse whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Cîroc, Ketel One, Captain Morgan and Tanqueray, is launching a new venture to track down some of the world’s lost and forgotten barrels of whiskey. The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company will offer up its precious finds to discerning consumers in search of something different. With so many artisanal and small batch brands cropping up, Diageo is dedicating its considerable resources to unearthing rare and precious finds by the barrel. The first two Orphan Barrel offerings will be a 20-year-old Barterhouse Whiskey (SRP: $75) and a 26-year-aged Old Blowhard Whiskey (SRP: $150) — both discovered in old warehouses at the famed Stitzel-Weller distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, established by the Van Winkle family after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
Both whiskies — smoky, oaky, dry and spicy — were carefully bottled by hand in Tullahoma, Tennessee and will start to appear in extremely limited quantities at select retailers around the country this month. The bottles are adorned with beautiful bespoke labels to illustrate the precious elixirs they contain. “The whiskey warehouses and rickhouses these spirits come from are special places filled with the incredible smells of seasoned oak, rough textures of weathered wood and amazing tastes of precious liquid,” notes Ewan Morgan, Master of Whiskey for Diageo. “It’s every worker’s dream of finding that forgotten barrel of delicious whiskey and sharing it with their friends. That’s exactly what we’re doing.”