After finally trying the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 I can fully say… I don’t get the hype. That’s not to say that it’s not phenomenal bourbon, because it absolutely is, but I’m not exactly sure it’s worth all of the hype. True this is the only one of the Van Winkle family I have tried so I can’t really be considered an authority on all things Van Winkle (yet), but at least for the 10 it’s not worth standing in line for hours or paying 3x+ retail for a bottle.
The Van Winkle’s got into the bourbon business when Julian (aka Pappy) was a traveling salesman for W.L. Weller and Sons wholesale house (of the W.L. Weller bourbon fame) until he and a friend bought Weller and the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery that made bourbon for Weller. Pappy then ran the company and oversaw operations for over 30 years. Upon his death in 1965 his son Julian Jr. Took over.
In 1972 Julian Van Winkle was forced, by stockholders, to sell the distillery and it’s brands (W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell and Cabin Still) to other distilleries and companies. After the sell Julian Jr. brought back a pre-prohibition label he managed to keep the rights to called Old Rip Van Winkle and he used old stocks from the Stitzel-Weller distillery to fuel his brand.
Julian Jr. died in 1981 and his son Julian Van Winkle III took over and in 2001 Julian’s son Preston Van Winkle joined the operation to continue making the family’s renowned wheated bourbon. Rather recently the Van Winkles and the famed Buffalo Trace Distillery joined forces and all of the Van Winkle whiskey is now produced at Buffalo Trace under strict supervision by the family.
The motto of the Van Winkle family is “We make fine bourbon. At a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon” and I have to say the Old Rip 10 definitely keeps with that motto. Overall I loved this bourbon and if it were easier to get a hold of it would be a daily drinker. It’s wonderfully round and smooth with a complex yet balanced flavor and aroma. Should you get the chance to try it don’t hesitate, it’s a great bourbon experience.
If you’ve tried Old Rip Van Winkle 10 I’d love to see what you think in the comments below.
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Review
Distiller: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery / Buffalo Trace
I love the smell of this bourbon. Thick rich caramel, vanilla and cherries exude from the bottle. Bourbon spice, oak, dark fruit leather, sweet grains and baking spices round out an aroma that walks the line of too sweet but manages to keep it’s balance.
Sometimes the nose of a whiskey can be deceiving, but that’s definitely not the case here. Caramel, vanilla and cherries again lead the charge across the palate with sweet grains corn, light oak and a touch of cinnamon bringing up the rear. The palate is a bit spicier than the nose, but delicious throughout.
Rather low heat (burn) and remarkably thick. It’s smooth and warm going down with an overall effortless feel to it.
A Medium finish that starts out with bourbon spice and fades to oak and caramel.