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Friday, May 26, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year old (2016)

Baller. That's right. That's me. I'm here to strengthen my reputation for reviewing whiskies that neither you or I can find or afford. This time I'm reviewing Old Rip Van Winkle ("Don't Call Me Pappy 10") 10 year old.

So about that "afford" issue. There's no actual defunct-distillery Stitzel-Weller juice berben in ORVW anymore. It's just wheated stuff from Buffalo Trace. And it's released every year. And Buffalo Trace never announces the actual bottle count. Thus the secondary market's price is based almost solely on demand.

But why is it in demand? There are other wheated bourbons, other 10 year old bourbons, other 107 proof bourbons, some of which are made very similarly to ORVW. But ORVW is part of the annual Pappiez release. In fact, it's sorta like cheap Pappy. One can proudly add the bottle to the Conspicuous Consumption Display dick pics one airs out on social media, I suppose.

There are still some people who actually open the bottle and drink Ol' Rip, good people like Ryan from New Jersey, from whom I recently received this sample in a swap. Thank you, Ryan.

Owner: Buffalo Trace (via Sazerac)
Brand: Old Rip Van Winkle
Distillery: Buffalo Trance Distillery
Location: Franklin, Kentucky
Mash Bill: BT's mystery wheated mash bill
Age: at least 10 years
Release year: 2016
ABV: 53.5% ABV

The nose begins with a rich round mature corn whisky note. Aromatic oak (as opposed to generic char), marshmallows and toffee pudding. Hints of cherry candy, pine sap, salty meat and Old Spice. The palate has caramel sauce, dark cherries and black cherry soda. Very minerally. Jalapeño oil and a whisper of ginger beer. The finish has the essence of candy without too much of the sweetness. Fresh cherries and cherry popsicles. Mineral. Lots of heat.

Dare I add water to Van Winkle? Sure. I'll drop it to Buffalo Trace levels.

WITH WATER (~45%abv)
The nose shows cloves, caramel, cherry candy and almond extract. The palate is mintier, sweeter. Similar cherries, less caramel. The finish is shorter, simpler. Cherries and candy.

Without fail, the Van Winkle bourbons smell fabulous. Also without fail, the palates never reach the noses' heights. This edition of ORVW has an excellent nose. While I appreciate the palate's reserved nature, it's missing the sort of depth that rye may bring. Yes, I'm a rye and high-rye bourbon fan, so I'm partial. Whatever the culprit may be, the palate hits a wall it cannot ascend. Thankfully though, it's not an oakfest. And I liked it a little better than Weller 12. Old Rip Van Winkle's suggested retail price is probably representative of its quality. The secondary market prices are not.

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - $60 suggested retail price, $350-$375 actual price
Rating - 84