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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Orphan Barrel Lost Prophet

Lost Prophet is Diageo’s fourth Orphan Barrel brand, a 22 year-old Bourbon distilled at the George T. Stagg Distillery (now Buffalo Trace) and moved for storage to Stitzel-Weller in Louisville, although I cannot find a definitive answer to the question of when or why these barrels were sold to Stitzel-Weller or its subsequent owners, who continued to age Bourbon after distilling ceased there.

However, I think the reason can be put together from the status of the Bourbon industry at the time.  According to the Buffalo Trace timeline (link here), in 1991 employment at the distillery had dwindled to 50 people and the distillery was in danger of closing.  That’s when Lost Prophet was distilled.  As a reminder, lean times had struck the Bourbon industry, but the resurgence was practically around the corner for any distillery that could outlast the downturn.  The George T. Stagg Distillery had been known by several names before Prohibition, and some of my posts about Col. E. H. Taylor, Jr. have tracked its progression. 

The distillery was bought in 1920 by Col. Albert B. Blanton where it served as a concentration warehouse and bottling facility for “medicinal” whiskey, and also continued to distill medicinal whiskey.  Schenley bought the distillery in 1933 and developed the Ancient Age brand with Col. Blanton still in charge of the distillery. 

Ancient Age Distilling Co. bought the distillery in late December 1982, and in 1992 the Ancient Age brands, using what is now known as the Buffalo Trace mash bill #2, were sold to Takara Shuzo Co. of Japan, while the distillery itself was sold to Sazerac.  Sazerac developed other brands, eventually including its namesake Buffalo Trace, using a lower-rye mash bill, now known as mash bill #1, while continuing to use mash bill #2 for Blanton’s, Elmer T. Lee, Ancient Age, and others under an agreement with Takara Shuzo.  Given the timing of the distillation, it is not surprising that the Lost Prophet mash bill is similar to what is popularly believed to be the current mash bill #2.

So now through corporate mergers, Diageo has come to own Bourbon distilled at George T. Stagg in the last years before that floundering distillery was saved by the Sazerac turn-around.  Has it been worth the wait?

Orphan Barrel Lost Prophet
Distillery:

George T. Stagg Distillery
Mash Bill:

75-78% corn; 15% rye; 7-10% malted barley
Age:
22 years

Proof:

90.1 proof

Cost:
$120.00 / 750 mL bottle

Tasting Notes
Disclaimer: Diageo kindly invited me to an event at Stitzel-Weller to sample Lost Prophet for this review, without any strings attached.
Thank you.


Color:
Dark amber to old copper.  Much darker than our comparison Barterhouse.

Nose:
Some oak, but not overpowering.  Dark fruit, honey sweetness, corn, and clove.

Taste:
This is a full, creamy Bourbon, with a prominent butterscotch flavor, along with rich fruit, vanilla, nuttiness, and a bit of leather.  Like the nose, there’s some oak, but it’s nowhere near overpowering.

Finish:
Nice finish with similar sweet flavors and smokiness.

Bottom Line

I’ll have to revisit this since it’s risky to review based on a single tasting, and I’ll hold my normal scoring until then.  I’ll also have to compare Lost Prophet one day to the other Orphan Barrel editions, but more interestingly, maybe to Elijah Craig 23.  In the meantime, from the samples provided, Lost Prophet strikes me as the best Orphan Barrel thus far, although the price dampens my enthusiasm.  Still, this one will be worth shelling out the expected retail price, and I’ll start hunting after the release later this week and next week.


15 comments:

  1. Gotta agree -- it's my favorite, too. It has that rich juiciness (I think of it as cherry Coke) that I associate with George T. Stagg, though it's dryer and a bit bitter on the finish.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I'll definitely be on the lookout for this one. The samples were poured a long time before we tasted, so I'm also interested to see the difference less air makes.

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  2. Was fortunate enough to taste this on Tuesday night side-by-side with Barterhouse and the upcoming release of Forged Oak. Lost Prophet is by far my favorite of the entire lineup. Though they all seem to have a very similar musty, mushroomy/ethyl acetate sort of thing going on with them. Either way,I look forward to its release, which I hear is smaller than the Old Blowhard release.

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    1. Those are the two other Orphan Barrels that I had at the same time too, and I agree completely that Lost Prophet is better than Barterhouse and Forged Oak. I've asked for the information on the number of Lost Prophet bottles, but unfortunately I don't have that number yet. Thanks for your comment!

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    2. I picked up a few bottles that just arrived here in town and agree. It is my favorite of the OB releases so far. Tried it along with Barterhouse (previously my favorite) and Rhetoric. Any word on the number of bottles? One of my bottles is numbered in the 1700 range and the other in the 25,000 range.

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    3. I still haven't been able to get information on the total number of bottles. The bottle I bought locally is 20,099 which was the highest I'd heard until your comment. I'm continue to dig and will update my post when I find out. Thanks!

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    4. Thank you for doing the digging! I bought them from two different sources. The higher number of the two is 25,899

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    5. I have 4 bottles and the highest bottle number I have is 22,793.

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    6. Thanks for commenting. It's funny that I've only seen and heard of high bottle numbers...

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    7. I have 3 bottles: one in the 10,000 range, one in the 12,000 range, and one in the 15,000 range.

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    8. Impressive to have found three of them!

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    9. I have 2 bottles, one is #21,952, and one is #31,848. Highest number I've seen yet.

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    10. Yes, 31,848 is the highest I've heard of too. It strikes me as plenty to go around!

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  3. I'm wondering if the numbering on the bottles are in relation to the entire orphan barrel lineup?

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    1. Good question, but probably not. Some earlier releases (Barterhouse) have higher numbers. I just wish that they'd tell us...

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