Van Winkle 1985 Family Reserve Rye / Un-Chillfiltered European Exclusive
The Old Rip Van Winkle brand was a pre-prohibition bourbon label, revived by the Van Winkle family after they were forced to sell their Stitzel-Weller distillery by its board of directors. New owners, Somerset Imports, granted Julian Van Winkle II (son of the famous 'Pappy') the continued use of an office at the distillery, and first option on purchasing casks to bottle his new brand with. When he died and the business passed to his son, Julian III, this courtesy was no longer extended, and he moved bottling to the old Hoffman distillery in Lawrenceburg in 1983, renaming it Old Commonwealth. He was still able to buy Stitzel-Weller stock though, and introduced the famous Pappy Van Winkle range in homage to his grandfather, using well-aged barrels from the distillery the now-legendary figure once so lovingly ran. When Stitzel-Weller was closed down by United Distillers in 1992, it was only a matter of time before stock would run out. This necessitated a partnership between Julian Van Winkle III and Buffalo Trace distillery in 2002, seeing all bottling move there, initially using the remaining Stitzel-Weller barrels, with these eventually replaced by Buffalo Trace distilled stock. The product from all eras is revered, and the brand is considered to be the first premium bourbon line to have been produced in the US.
Blink and you might miss it, but this is not the standard 13 year old Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye that at first glance it may appear. Labelled simply as the 1985 vintage, this was released in 2001 when the Family Reserve was actually 15 years old. Although it is commonly known as a 13 year old, the rye actually continued to age in cask until 2004 when it was eventually tanked at Buffalo Trace.
The Family Reserve Rye is presumed to have been distilled at Medley in Owensboro, with the 1980s "Cream of Kentucky" rye from George T. Stagg blended through it after it was tanked in 2004. That ran out in 2016, and as of 2018 a Buffalo Trace-distilled rye has been used. This however is the unblended Medley liquid.
Bottled by Julian Van Winkle III at Old Commonwealth, he has personally confirmed that this un-chillfiltered version was an experiment for the European market, at the request of a "French customer" (although it is more likely he was referring to Rinaldi in Italy). Un-chillfiltering is unheard of with bourbon in the US, but is generally the preference here. Van Winkle also noted that he believes this release does retain some flavours lost in the regular chillfiltered product.
Bottled at the higher strength of 100 proof, this is a particularly rare gem.
We would recommend viewing/close inspection prior to placing any bids. If this is not an option and you have questions beyond the offered description and images, please contact us for a more in-depth condition report. Otherwise lots will be sold as seen in the images.
Please note: Due to the various ages of bottles and their seals, condition of liquid is at the buyer's discretion and no claim can be lodged against failure/leakage in transit.