Whisky Advocate

New Release: Old Rip Van Winkle Family Selection 23 yr. old

October 23rd, 2009

Another new whiskey that just came in. I wonder how it compares to the Pappy Van Winkle 23 yr. old? I didn’t get an image with the press release. When I do, I’ll post it up.

Limited Edition Old Rip Van Winkle
Bourbon Whiskey to be released

VW decanter_lo      FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY— The Van Winkle family is pleased to announce the release of a very limited Old Rip Van Winkle Family Selection 23 year-old bourbon whiskey decanter. Every barrel of whiskey was chosen from the lower, cooler floors of the aging warehouse, allowing this wheated-recipe bourbon to age more gracefully.

     Julian and Preston Van Winkle hand-picked these select barrels which were filled in April of 1986. This bourbon will not be chill-filtered, leaving in all the flavor and complexity of the whiskey.  Each decanter will be bottled at the original barrel entry proof of 114.     

     “This is some of our best whiskey,” commented Julian Van Winkle. “I’m thrilled to offer this new expression of Old Rip. Hopefully whiskey aficionados will appreciate the rich taste of this bourbon as much as I do.”

      There will only be 1,200 of these unique decanters available. Each bottle was produced by the award-winning Glencairn Crystal of Scotland and is hand-engraved and numbered to commemorate the exclusive bottling. Every decanter will be packaged in a beautiful solid wood, leather-lined box along with a crystal stopper and two crystal glasses.

     This special release will be available in stores late November and is expected to sell for $350. For more information on the Van Winkle family of bourbon please visit

 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 Sons wholesale house in Louisville. Pappy and a friend, Alex Farnsley, eventually bought the wholesale house and also purchased the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery. They merged the two companies and became the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Their prominent brands were W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, and Cabin Still.
     In May of 1935 at the age of 61, Pappy opened the newly completed Stitzel-Weller Distillery in South Louisville. He 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 either sold with the distillery or to other distilleries.
     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 junior’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.
     Recently, the Van Winkles entered into a joint venture with the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY. All of the Van Winkle’s whiskey production now takes place at Buffalo Trace under the same strict guidelines the family has always followed.

7 Responses to “New Release: Old Rip Van Winkle Family Selection 23 yr. old”

  1. Dutch says:

    Another wonderful sounding whiskey that I won’t be able to afford.

  2. sam k says:

    So can we assume that these stocks are also from Frankfort? I’m just wondering if Julian still has access to any Louisville whiskey.

    And though it is by no means cheap, compare this lavishly-packaged 23 year old rarity to just about any similar Scottish-produced spirit to see the inherent value.

  3. EllenJ says:

    I’m guessing this is the same 1986 wheated bourbon that BT put into Weller 19 yr-old about four years ago. Pretty good stuff, if you like old oak-y whiskey (like I do), but not very similar to the RVW bourbons.

    Actually, Julian’s finest bourbon offering, the one that won all those shiney medals and established RVW’s place at the top the truly elite bourbons of history, wasn’t Stitzel-Weller whiskey at all, and most likely wasn’t wheated, either.

  4. JW says:

    I hope US bourbon manufacturers are not going to go the way of the Scotch manufacturers. I agree that compared to Scotch, bourbon is a tremendous value. However, I am getting very tired of having to run around trying to get the limited editions (BT Antique Collection, Pappy Van Winkles (15yr and 20 yr) or paying a significant premium on the secondary market. The box, decantor and glasses are a good chunk of that $350. Even if I was willing to pay for it (no thank you – $100 on the 20 yr old Pappy is good (and expensive enough) for me), FINDING it will be a problem.

    Increase the number of bottles and improve the distribution please and stop with the marketing ploys.

  5. Red_Arremer says:

    JW, my man, they’ll never stop with the marketing ploys once they start. As the market for bourbon continues to grow, not one over-packaged over-priced bottle from any brand will fail to sell out within a year or two.

    It’s already happening. Just like the scotch industry, the bourbon industry is beginning to question the economic rationale of “middle-class” bottlings like Pappy 20.

    Increased revenue will begin to flow in from the premiumization of mid-priced bourbon brands. That money will be spent on growth not just in terms of new and expanded distilleries, but also in terms of marketing research on how to take better advantage of premiumization opportunities.

    John, a while ago you praised bourbon distillers for the improvement in the quality of older bourbons. We are now seeing that that improvement was actually a tentative and naive step in the direction of premiumization.

    A good value sam k @2? Not by a long shot. Only little more than a year ago Parker’s Heritage 27, which was a really awesome expression, was selling for at least a hundred dollars less.

    Watch out people! For years now, scotch reviewers all over the net have been knocking points off ratings for low strength, chill filtering, and caramel coloring. Increasingly, the scotch industry, which wants their whiskies to be well respected, has capitualted to the demands of the reviewers. But how many reviewers have knocked points off for price? How many reviewers have recognized FINANCIAL ACCESSIBILITY TO THE COMMAN MAN AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF AUTHENTIC WHISKY? None. And prices have just gone up and up. It may be too late for the scotch industry, but it is not too late for the bourbon industry.

    Boycott premium bourbons. On the net, badmouth them, as products, every chance that you get. Give your dollars to worthy mid-priced brands and don’t give a penny to overpriced premium products.

  6. sam k says:

    Red, I agree with you on nearly every point you’ve made, but still, compare this release to the Macallan Lalique, etc., etc. It’s a relative value, though not one I’ll ever get to taste.

    I can’t even consider buying any whiskey priced over $100, and have yet to buy many priced over $50…there are just too many good values available for less money. I’m easier to please than many high-end aficionados, and don’t have their dough. I’m drinking Rittenhouse rye right now, $13.00 a bottle (last year’s case price, but I can no longer order it in PA)!

    And by the way, I give Heaven Hill a lot of credit…last year’s Parker’s was outstanding at $225, this year’s is equally as good, but costs $75 less. They could have raked us, but chose not to. God bless the remaining considerate American distillers! Guess whose affordable brands I’ll be focusing on as the year progresses?

  7. sam k says:

    Oh, my point?

    Max, Parker, Craig, Larry, et al…your consideration for the common man is not going unnoticed. There are those of us who appreciate your price/quality ratio immensely. Though you are not alone in the occasional value offering, no other distiller offers the consistently affordable variety that Heaven Hill does. As long as you’re taking care of me and my buddies, you go ahead and sell all the high-end whiskey you can!

    Red, are you drinking any Heaven Hill brands? If not, you should be!

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