There are few things more exciting than when Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve comes into the state and arrives at the restaurant. This year we are lucky enough to receive two bottles of Pappy, the 10 year and the 20 year.
In case you have been living under a rock, here is a little information on the distillery and the extremely limited release.
Once a year, Rhode Island receives a single shipment of a very limited number of Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. That day is today.
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve is the gold standard for bourbon in the world. People literally go crazy for the stuff even stealing over $100,000 worth of the bourbon. (Read that story here People buy and trade the bourbon online for anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to almost $3,000 a bottle listed here.
About the Distillery
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, traveling around the state by horse and buggy. Pappy and a friend, Alex Farnsley, eventually bought the wholesale house and also purchased the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery, which made bourbon for Weller. 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 the highest quality wheated bourbon available. His son, Preston joined 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 in order to produce a superior quality product.
Aside from the rich family history, Van Winkle bourbons are special for another important reason, their recipe. All of the Van Winkle bourbons are made with corn, wheat, and, barley instead of corn, rye and, barley. This "wheated" recipe gives the bourbon a much softer, smoother taste and it also allows the whiskey to age more gracefully.
20 Year, 90.4 Proof
This is the #1 rated Bourbon Whiskey in the world—Rated 99 out of 100 by the World Spirits Championship. This bourbon is aged 20 years and bottled at 90.4 proof. This whiskey is wonderfully smooth and rich. No other bourbon today can stand 20 years of aging, but this bourbon does it with style. “Pappy” Van Winkle was a true character. This bourbon, like “Pappy”, is full of character that makes it a very special whiskey. It has been put in the class of a fine after dinner cognac. Rated 99 by the Beverage Tasting Institute
10 year, 107 Proof
This wonderful bourbon is bottled as close to barrel proof as possible. We add just a splash of our Kentucky limestone well-water when we empty the barrels for bottling. Thus, this whiskey is as smooth as any you will find. The more water you add to whiskey from its natural barrel proof to its bottle proof, the harsher it becomes. This 107 barrel proof seems to be just right.