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Friday, October 7, 2016

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Lost Prophet 22 year old 1991 Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Having been distilled in 1991 at George T. Stagg Distillery (now Buffalo Trace Distillery), matured for its final seven years in the Stitzel-Weller warehouses, and bottled at George Dickel Distillery in Tennessee, Lost Prophet 22yo is the only Orphan Barrel release I've been interested in thus far.  Part Mr. Bumble, part Miss Havisham, and with more than a suggestion of Fagin, Diageo bussed this orphan from home to home to home, maneuvers that likely resulted in greater than usual overhead costs, which are in turn baked into the suggested retail price.  This pricing is in turn propped up by a marketing story (more overhead costs) that highlights their oops-look-what-we-lost-track-of fish tale and Stitzel-Weller Stitzel-Weller Stitzel-Weller.

What intrigues me about Lost Prophet is its old Age International-style mashbill, since I always enjoy the recent Blanton's and Elmer T. Lee bourbons.  Though this whiskey has the second highest age statement of any bourbon I've sipped, I'd have preferred to have tried The Prophet when it was at least ten years younger.  I'm no fan of oak juice, so the advanced age is a negative to me; for instance, see my review of Prophet's fellow orphan, the ugly Forced Forged Oak 15yo.  Despite my inclinations against Diageo, I sincerely hope Lost Prophet is better than Forged Oak.

Owner: Diageo
Brand: Orphan Barrel
Orphan: Lost Prophet
Distillery: George T. Stagg Distillery (now Buffalo Trace Distillery)
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Mashbill: 75-78% corn, 7-10% barley, and 15% rye
Age: 22 years (1991-2014)
Alcohol by Volume: 45.05%
(Sample comes to me from the top third of Ms. Sing's bottle. Thanks, Linda!)

The pleasant nose's two main characteristics are vanilla and more vanilla.  There's also some caramel sauce and orange oil.  Praline, nutmeg, and tablet.  Unlike most old whiskies, the nose doesn't open up with time.  Instead it flattens out, trending towards barrel char and Elmer's glue.  The palate is very mellow.  In fact, it feels watery.  It has a good pepper bite that balances out some mild woody bitterness.  Tart berries, a mild sweetness, sea salt, and generic barrel char make up the midground.  It does pick up some caramel, nuts, and vanilla with time.  The finish grows sweeter with time.  There's plenty of citric acid to go with a spicy zing.  Subtle vanilla and generic barrel char.

First, the good news.  Lost Prophet is much better than Forged Oak.  There's less woody bitterness to it and the nose is quite nice at the start, resulting a simple easy experience.  The main problem is its thinness in the mouth.  It feels like one of Diageo's blended scotches, aggressively filtered and watered down.  Is this what they did to it?  And why?  To make more bottles in order to make up for that supposed lost profit?  Overall, it's not a terrible whiskey but I can't help but think it could have been better without doctoring or if it were bottled earlier.  And shouldn't we expect more from an American whiskey that sells for three figures, no matter its age?

Availability - Some specialty liquor retailers, the secondary market
Pricing - suggested retail price was $120, if you find it for 2x that price you're lucky(?)
Rating - 79


  1. So-so as a bourbon but terrific in a Manhattan. The sweetness of the vermouth fills in the void left by the watery palate.

    1. Sounds good to me. Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds like you salvaged your bottle.