Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year and Van Winkle Family Reserve “Lot B” 12 Year: 2016 v. 2017

Van Winkle

The Van Winkle name is the E.F. Hutton of today’s bourbon market – say it in a room of bourbon drinkers, and everyone listens. Or, put another way, say it in a blog post or message board, and everyone has an opinion. Even Justin Timberlake name dropped the Van Winkle brand’s “Pappy” line in a recent interview (while simultaneously showing that he knows as much about whiskey as I know about bringing sexy back).

What invariably gets lots in the hype over the label is what’s actually inside the bottle. How does this stuff taste, anyway? And is there any variation from year-to-year?

We decided to review the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year and the Van Winkle Family Reserve “Lot B” 12 Year releases from 2016 and 2017. The main purpose of which was to see whether these coveted bourbons have any variation between their annual releases.

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Lock Stock & Barrel 13 Year Rye Review

Lock Stock & Barrel

Lock Stock & Barrel (LS&B), a brand of straight rye whiskey, is produced by Cooper Spirit Co., a company founded in 2006, whose greatest claim to fame is the creation of St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur (a brand sold off in 2013 to Bacardi).  Cooper Spirits originally released the 13 year LS&B in 2013.  A subsequent 16 year and 18 year bottling have now been released from the same distillate.

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Old Overholt Bonded and 80 Proof Review

Whiskey Advocate recently ran a story on the history of Old Overholt. I encourage you to read it, as it is quite an interesting story of how Old Overholt went from one of the most highly respected American whiskey brands to a nearly forgotten bottom-shelf offering. Long story short (and not to discourage a read), the brand’s nineteenth century glory and family heritage died during Prohibition. The company would land in corporate hands, and eventually into National Distillers (a now defunct corporation that once owned brands like Old Grand-Dad and Old Taylor).

Post-Prohibition would see the conglomeration of many American whiskey companies and the death of many labels. Many of those were rye whiskeys, which were falling out of fashion. Old Overholt continued in production, but its source for about a thirty-year period is largely unknown. It is suspected that during this time that Old Overholt’s mash bill was changed to account for a higher corn content, which might explain some of my tasting notes below.

Beam acquired the brand from National Distillers in 1987. Since that time, Old Overholt has been bottled as an 80-proof rye, and the current age statement reads a mere 3 years (Beam dropped the four year age statement in around 2013 in favor of the 3 year product).  Recently, Beam announced an expansion of the Old Overholt line, with a 100-proof, Bonded offering that would in some ways return the brand to its days of old, when Old Overholt was a bottled-in-bond product, 100 proof, at least 4 year rye whiskey.

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February 2018: Compass Box Whisky

Host: Lee Bullock

This tasting is one that I have been thinking about for past 12 months, even before last year’s single grain tasting that I hosted.

Compass Box whisky is an independent bottler of Scotch whiskies and have brought, in my opinion, a breath of fresh air to the Scotch market in general. This tasting should also build on the last two tasting hosted by the esteemed Dr. Benson.

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