Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year is the stuff of legends. Pappy Van Winkle and all of his expressions have become extremely rare these days. With the explosion in bourbon taking place over the last couple of years word has gotten out that this juice is delicious. When you combine that with its scarcity you’re bound to have a hard time finding a bottle. I’ve somewhat chronicled my journey of trying to find some Pappy or the Buffalo Trace Antique collection this year. I’ve come up short every time I’ve gone out to get some. However, that hard work has paid off a little bit. Recently one of the guys from Tennessee Whiskey Trail reached out to me and wanted to chat over a cigar about websites. So I obviously wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to hang out with a fellow blogger and BOTL! When he showed up he surprised me with a bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year and Four Roses 125th Anniversary Small Batch (which I’ll be reviewing in a couple of days). So needless to say I was blown away. He let me take the bottles home for a couple of days to take photos and take a couple of drams to review them. I honestly can’t thank Joe enough he’s incredibly generous and this was a truly selfless act. So Joe Thank You. Also if you all haven’t check out their site yet go right now I’ll wait: www.tennesseewhiskeytrail.com.
Now, onto the bourbon review! The history behind this Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year is pretty impressive. Back before Prohibition Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle joined the W.L. Weller Company as a salesman, eventually he ended up owning the entire thing. During Prohibition the distillery was pushed to create medicinal whiskey instead of the good stuff. When Prohibition ended he joined with one of his main suppliers the Stitzel Distillery and formed the Stitzel-Weller distillery. This particular bourbon was created somewhat as a novelty combining the last name of the family alongside the name of the famous character Rip Van Winkle who was notorious for sleeping. It’s been said that the name is a great metaphor because of bourbon’s time that it takes ‘sleeping’ in barrels. I think it’s a pretty good story so I’m sticking to it.
Pappy is long gone now and the Stitzel-Weller distillery shut its doors in 1992. However, Buffalo Trace has now picked up where they left off. Under the guiding hands of J.P. Van Winkle III they are still producing / selecting wheated bourbon that lives up to the Pappy Van Winkle name.
I love the look of this Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year bottle. It’s different from the other bottles in the line. Most of the bottles show Pappy sitting there smoking a stogie. If I ever get my hands on one of those bottles I’m framing it because that label is the epitome of this site. I digress, this bottle has a nice tan background label that is symbolic of being aged with time. There is a large red font that yells out Rip Van Winkle.
The most noticeable aspect of the label however is the image of ole Rip himself. It’s centered on the label and above everything else. Keeping with the novelty of the bourbon I think this is a very classy touch. One thing that I noticed on this bottle that was interesting is part of the age statement. Everyone knows it’s 10 Years, but on the side it says “10 Summers Old”. I think that’s a pretty cool way to say it. On the other side of picture of Rip it says “Asleep Many Years in the Wood”. So they’re definitely playing off this Rip Van Winkle story, a lot, and I like it.
The color of the bourbon is a beautiful golden amber with some hints of copper in the right light. I’m ready to get some of this juice in a glass and get the review on.
Right out of the gate this Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year has a ton of alcohol that needs to be let loose. So I let the bottle air out for a bit before pouring a dram. After that initial alcohol burns off I start to pick up a very strong sense of nutmeg, cinnamon and some delicious citrus notes. There are also some notes of toffee and maple syrup that come pouring out as well. A very complex nose for sure.
The initial sip is just delightful. I’ve never had this bourbon before so the anticipation leading up to it was very intense. Right away I’m met with the caramel that’s typically prevalent in bourbon. The toffee notes are there along side a very interesting minty taste. Then on the finish the spices show up again, that nutmeg and cinnamon seem to be hitting fairly aggressively.
The finish on this Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year is incredibly smooth, yet it dissipates quicker than I would like. I want it to sit there and coat my entire mouth. It does, for a bit, but not nearly as long as I would like. It finishes with that nice spice that you get from a good aged bourbon and that heat starts to bellow from your chest. Very well rounded bourbon that’s for sure.
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year: 9/10
I’m definitely a huge fan of this bourbon. It lived up to the hype, so why only the 9/10? Well it blew me away, but I’m not sure I would go back to the well on this like I would a Blanton’s or a Four Roses Single Barrel. I definitely enjoyed it, and I loved the flavors, but I’m not sure I’d go back to it time and time again. So we’ll maybe if I’m ever able to track down another bottle I can go back to it and maybe adjust my score. Either way, still a damn fine bourbon.