When thinking about tasting an exclusive whiskey such as The Gifted HorseOrphan Barrel‘s seventh release, I could think of no better place than No Vacancy LA. The 3,400-square-foot, three-level bar that took over Janes House – the last standing Victorian home in Hollywood – has its fair share of charm. From its tight rope acts to its speakeasy style entrance, my buddy Max and I were in for a treat.

No Vacancy LA by the Houston Brothers
Jonnie and Mark Houston’s spot, No Vacancy LA

After entering through the back of No Vacancy, up a flight of stairs, and through a secret speakeasy passage under a burlesque dancer’s bed, we were in. I was thirsty, so I ventured over to the bar and ordered up a ‘Bulleit Cooler’, one of two welcome cocktails made with Bulleit Bourbon, Amaro, Aperol, and Lemon Juice. Delicious!

Welcome Cocktails

The Bulleit Cooler Cocktail

After having a cocktail and some food, we moved to the front of No Vacancy where The Gifted Horse tasting would be held. It was a brisk night in LA, so Max and I snagged a spot by the outdoor fireplace.

Master of Whiskey for DIAGEO, Ewan Morgan
Master of Whiskey for DIAGEO, Ewan Morgan
Max Weisz (MaxNoSleeves) at No Vacancy LA
@MaxNoSleeves my whiskey tasting date at No Vacancy LA

Before jumping into the tasting, we heard from the two whiskey masters at DIAGEO, and how The Gifted Horse came to be. Through a fortunate mishap at the Stizel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, a 17-year-old Kentucky bourbon was mixed with barrels of much younger whiskey. And too much surprise, this error turned out better than anyone could have expected.

Instead of the older bourbon being affected, it was transformed, with notes of apple skin, toffee, almond, raisin, and slight milk chocolate. The taste of The Gifted Horse is of rich creamy caramel/toffee, Bosc pear and fruit cake. Try it neat, and then see how the fruity notes emerge with just a splash of water.

The Gifted Horse Whiskey Tasting

An Orphan Barrel first last night was the cocktail they made with No Vacancy’s head mixologist, Destinee Almonte. Using The Gifted Horse, Almonte made all of us The Paddock cocktail, a deliciously refreshing end to a bold and favorable evening. This is the first time Orphan Barrel has ever created a cocktail out of one of their seven releases. You can find the recipe below:

Destinee Almonte No Vacancy LA's featured mixologist
Destinee Almonte creating the signature Paddock cocktail

The Gifted Horse Cocktail

The Paddock Cocktail Recipe by Destinee Almonte

  • 1 oz. The Gifted Horse
  • 1/4 oz. Velvet Falernum
  • 1 quarter roasted pear
  • 2 bar spoons sugar
  • 1 dash Cardamom Bitters
  • Topped with soda
  • Garnish with a sugared pear