Fans of the highly anticipated Van Winkle line of bourbons will be excited to learn the annual release is coming soon. Yields from the barrels are typically low due to the evaporation during the long aging cycle, and this year is no exception. While the amount of 10, 12 and 15-year bourbon will be about the same as previous years, unfortunately the 20 and 23-year-old barrels yielded far fewer bottles this fall. Good news is there is more 13-year rye than in years’ past.
Known for their smoother and sweeter flavor due to the wheat recipe versus the traditional rye recipe found in most bourbons, Van Winkle bourbons are able to be aged longer than most, in some cases two decades or more. The Van Winkle line has accrued an impeccable reputation among connoisseurs and has almost achieved cult-like status.
The Van Winkle collection consists of several whiskeys:
• Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old 107 proof
• Old Rip Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old
• Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year Old
• Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old
• Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
• Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old
The Van Winkle line of whiskeys has won a multitude of awards through the years, including the 20-year-old receiving a double gold medal, best bourbon, best small batch bourbon at the 2018 New York International Spirits Competition and the 15-year-old nabbing a Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
ABOUT VAN WINKLE BOURBON
For those not fully aware of the Van Winkle family's prevalent history in the world of bourbon, Buffalo Trace also noted
"The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery has a four-generation history. The Van Winkle family’s involvement in the bourbon industry began in the late 1800s with Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle, Sr. He was a traveling salesman for the W.L. Weller and Sons wholesale house in Louisville. Pappy and a friend, Alex Farnsley, eventually bought the wholesale house and also partnered with Mr. A. Ph. Stitzel on the purchase of Mr. Stitzel’s distillery. The three of them merged the two companies and became the Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
In May of 1935 at the age of 61, Pappy opened the newly completed Stitzel-Weller Distillery in South Louisville. Its prominent brands were W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, and Cabin Still. Pappy had a heavy influence on the operations there until his death at the age of 91. His son, Julian, Jr. took over operations until he was forced by stockholders to sell the distillery in 1972. The rights to all of their brands were sold to Norton Simon, Inc. Later, United Distillers, who eventually ended up with the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, sold off all of the original labels around 1999.
After selling the distillery, Julian Jr. resurrected a pre-Prohibition label, the only one to which the Van Winkles kept the rights, called Old Rip Van Winkle. He used whiskey stocks from the old distillery to supply his brand. Julian Jr.’s son, Julian, III took over in 1981 when Julian, Jr. passed away. Julian III has continued with the Van Winkle tradition of producing high-quality wheated bourbon. His son, Preston, joined the company in 2001 and the Van Winkles look to continue that tradition for generations to come."
In 2002 the Van Winkles entered into a joint venture with Buffalo Trace Distillery in Franklin County, Frankfort, Ky. All of the Van Winkle’s whiskey production now takes place at Buffalo Trace Distillery under the same strict guidelines the family has always followed