Frankfort, Ky. — 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 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. The 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, resulting in a superior sweeter and smoother flavor. The Van Winkle line has accrued an impeccable reputation among connoisseurs and has almost achieved cult-like status. Although bourbon has become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years, very little Van Winkle is sold overseas, so that these coveted bottles are available in the United States.
The Van Winkle collection consists of several whiskeys. Suggested retail prices are as follows:
- $69.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old 107 proof
- $79.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12-Year-Old
- $119.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13-Year-Old
- $119.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old
- $199.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
- $299.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old
“Unfortunately even though we suggest what we believe to be a very low and fair MSRP, we cannot control the price retailers charge, and some retailers mark it up even though we and the distributors that those retailers buy from asking them not to,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “We are committed to releasing quality whiskey at a reasonable cost and we hope retailers will honor what we suggest as a fair retail price.”
Upon the release of the Van Winkle bourbon this fall, Buffalo Trace Distillery reminds fans to be wary of online resellers such as private Facebook groups, Craigslist, and other online marketplaces. “Trading and selling bourbon online is an unlicensed and illegal sale. If you are not a licensed retailer selling Van Winkle products, we are prepared to take action to curtail the activity,” says Kris Comstock, senior marketing director at Buffalo Trace Distillery. “Additionally, if you are a customer trying to buy a bottle at a licensed retailer who has marked it up above MSRP, we encourage you to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or contact your state Attorneys General office.”
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.
The Van Winkle Whiskeys will be available starting in November, but please be mindful that supply is quite limited and bottles shall be hard to find in stores, bars, and restaurants. They will be packed three bottles per case.
About Van Winkle Bourbon
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 Son’s 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. For more information on the Van Winkle family of bourbon please visit www.oldripvanwinkle.com.