Whiskey Review: “Rhetoric” from Orphan Barrel Distilleries

Pardon The Punctuation…I don’t know about you but the sound of a 20 year aged bourbon sounds pretty good to me. “Rhetoric” from Orphan Barrel Distillery is just one of those whiskies. Here’s the story of Orphan Barrel right from the horses mouth.

“The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Company was started to share barrels of rare and delicious whiskey, hidden away and nearly forgotten in the back of rickhouses and distilleries.
Stories of these lost whiskeys have become the stuff of legend. Our goal is to bottle these rare, small offerings for the world to try.
Every Orphan Barrel is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee, to ensure that these rare whiskeys are treated with the care they deserve – because some of them will only be available once. And once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”

That’s right. Once and they are gone…so when you find one you like, buy it and buy some more. The “Rhetoric” is only available once.

Nose: Oak, oak and more oak. Felt like I was sniffing an oak tree forrest. Yeah there’s a leathery quality but it’s overpowered by the oak.

Palate: Did I mention oak? These also a redeeming taste of vanilla. The vanilla really saved it for me.

Finish: Finishes pretty dry and smooth. Almost finished like a rye.

Conclusion: Not my favorite of the Orphan Barrel releases. Their “Barterhouse” is still my favorite for the money and a few bucks less. It’s a good bourbon but I’m not sure it’s worth the hefty price tag.


Ocho at the Hotel Havana: “The Best Little Happy Hour in Texas”

Pardon The Punctuation…San Antonio isknown for the Alamo and for sports arenas whose air conditioning doesn’t work. Now it can be known for something else!!! A great happy hour place just blocks away from the riverwalk. Ocho restaurant is located at the stunning Hotel Havana. I definitely have to stay there and review it in the future. I heard about the spot by taking to social media and asking my audience where I needed to go that wasn’t a douchey tourist trap. They answered and I’m so glad I asked. On the happy hour menu you’ll find $4 mojitos and a handful of $5 appetizers that will fill the belly. The tostones, quesadilla, and salsa were the shizzzzznit and I don’t say that lightly. The decor, food, and cocktails seemed curated like a fine museum. If you’re in San Antonio make sure you check out this spot for an experience that will transport you to a happy hour wonderland.

Whiskey Review: Orphan Barrel Distillery’s Barterhouse 20 year Bourbon…Wow

Pardon The Punctuation…I love me some good whiskey and when I saw a 20 year whiskey at the store for under $100 bucks I had to get me some. Right off the nose it hits you with hints of vanilla and cake batter. Caramel on the palate and the sweetness of the corn really comes through. The dominant flavor has to be the vanilla which envelopes your mouth in whiskey goodness. It’s a limited release so I suggest you go and get some ASAP. In my top 20 bourbons of all time.


“The Continental Club” A Must in DTLA

Pardon The punctuation…The Continental Club at the J. Parkinson room in downtown Los Angeles is more than a bar…it’s a place to escape from the concrete jungle of DTLA. A place to seek refuge from your long day. The elegant decor is reminiscent of bar in London and the music reminds me of the lounges in my hometown of Miami. With excellent bartenders like Mauricio and Avery be sure to know that every cocktail gets the TLC it deserves. Had the pleasure of sampling some of their libations and here’s what I had.

The Perfect Manhattan: Rye whiskey, dry and sweet vermouth, orange, angostura bitters, and scorched orange oil. Just a killer Manhattan. The scorched orange oil makes all the difference. It’s all about the little details.

Gordon’s Cup: London dry gin, fresh lime juice, crushed cucumber, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Yummy fresh flavors. The pepper gives it a nice bite on the finish.

Continental:London dry gin, sweet vermouth, yellow chartreuse, and absinthe. All the initial flavors are great but the absinthe is not to my taste. If you like absinthe this is the one for you.

St James: Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, fresh lime juice, star anise, and pine apple syrup. This rum drink kicks ass and will put you on your ass. I’m usually not a huge fan of anise but it blends well in this cocktail.

Boulevard: Bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters. This is their interpretation of a boulevardier. Sometimes the boulevardier can taste medicinal but theirs doesn’t. Elegant and well balanced.

Avenue: Rye, apple brandy, fresh lemon juice, pomegranate and passion fruit syrups, and orange blossom essence. If this is a chick drink than I’m the biggest chick ever. Could have had 5 of these…would have felt it in the morning but screw it! They’re amazing! If you like a shaken cocktail make this one that you order.

The Continental Club hits it out of the park in every way. The drinks, service, ambiance, and decor are all top notch. I think I found where I’m going to celebrate my birthday next year. You should hit them up when you’re in DTLA. They’re open seven days a week.

Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of John Watling’s Rum

Pardon The Punctuation…Rum, rum, rum and more rum…The only thing about a pirate’s life that I would have enjoyed would be the rum. I recently acquired a bottle that would make Jack Sparrow Jealous. John Watling’s rum is produced at the historic Buena Vista State in Nassau and aged for up to 5 years. Floral notes on the nose and with vanilla and cola on the palate with a smooth finish. This is the perfect rum to sit on the porch and sip with a fine cigar. They also offer tours of the distillery in the Bahamas. Definitely on my todo list for the next time I’m in the islands. If you’re an enthusiast this is one for your collection.

The Manhattan Project: Barrel Aging a Classic Manhattan

Pardon The Punctuation...After having a an amazing barrel aged Manhattan at Baco Mercat in Los Angeles I was inspired to create my own interpretation at home. Five liters sounded like the right barrel size for me so picked one up at the Buffalo Trace distillery while on a recent trip to Kentucky.

First I had to decide on the whiskey...well Costco made that an easy decision for me. They had the 1.75 liter bottle of Bulleit Rye on sale for $32. A killer deal. It's a solid rye that's full of flavor and should age well. A rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't drink it on the rocks then you shouldn't age it in a barrel. This doesn't mean that you should barrel age a $100 bottle of bourbon. No way. All I'm saying is don't use crappy stuff.

Next the Vermouth. I used Perucchi Gran Reserva from Spain. It runs about $20 and is an outstanding example of Spanish sweet vermouth. Made with over 40 different ingredients and is great on its own or in a Manhattan. Definitely worth a few more bucks to buy the good stuff.

Lastly the bitters. I went with the traditional Angostura aromatic bitters. This is something I'll probably play around with the next barrel I age.

y last spin. When I make a Manhattan at home I garnish with a port wine soaked cherry. In honor of this I added about 100ml or port to finish the barrel and give my signature.

Here's what to do. Seal your barrel according to whatever instructions came with it. For me I just filled it with water for about a day or so and that was that...sealed. Then mix all of your ingredients and funnel them into the barrel. Done and done. I'm going to start tasting after about 4 weeks. I hear the sweet spot is between 7-8 weeks. Once you like the taste, filter it and bottle away. You don't want to leave it in your barrel forever. I'm going to reuse the Bulleit bottles and some mason jars I have laying around.

4,200ml of Bourbon
175ml of Angostura Bitters
518ml of Perucchi Sweet Vermouth
100ml of Port Wine