If you are a diehard bourbon fan, no doubt you are familiar with the Van Winkle name. Probably some of the hardest to find bourbons on the market today, the Van Winkle distillery (owned by the Sazerac Company) releases their products only once a year, and has bourbons labeled at 10yr, 12yr, 15yr, 20yr and 23yr, as well as a rye whiskey.
The Van Winkle line of bourbons with the exception of the 23yr features a high wheat mashbill produced by Buffalo Trace, similiar to (or exactly the same) as the W.L. Weller line of bourbons. So how do the legendary van winkle bourbons actually stand up to the hype? Well, I will say that they are delicious. Whether or not they are worth seeking out and paying through the nose for is a matter of personal taste, but they are excellent bourbons. Here we are going to be tasting the Old Rip Van Winkle 10yr iteration.
Nose: The nose of Old Rip is strong. It has a great sweet smell, like some vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce on top, banana pudding, and some oaky spice. Definitely strong hit of alcohol.
Palate: Silk and Velvet intertwine with butterscotch, dry cinnamon spice, oak and vanilla custard.
Finish: The wheat in the mashbill is really highlighted in the finish, where spice are met oak, toffee, creamy vanilla and a slight bitter char from the barrel. The finish is long and smooth.
Overall a very solid bourbon. If compared on its own, without the hype of the name, I would recommend it based upon its price point and quality. Would I stand in line for hours waiting for a bottle, or pay for it on the second hand market, probably not.