The much-anticipated annual release of the Van Winkle bourbons is nearly here, but unfortunately some of the angels were extra greedy over the course of the past two decades, leaving less bourbon than in previous years.
“When bourbon ages over 15 years, much is lost to the angel’s share. Many of the 53 gallon oak barrels often yield less than 20 gallons,” said Kris Comstock, Buffalo Trace marketing director. “Unfortunately this year we experienced poor yields on the older Van Winkle whiskeys. Furthermore, we have strict quality standards here at Buffalo Trace and several of the older Van Winkle barrels did not meet those standards. This makes a drastic difference in volume, considering we have very few barrels as it is. The result is less 15 year-old Pappy Van Winkle than usual, and far less 20 year-old and 23 year-old. Frankly, about half as much as last year.”
An unusually high angel’s share has also afflicted recent aged releases in the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, George T. Stagg and William Larue Weller.
The Van Winkle collection consists of several whiskeys. Although real market prices for Van Winkle bourbons can run in the thousands of dollars, suggested retail prices are as follows:
- $49.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old 107 proof
- $59.99 – Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old
- $99.99 – Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Whiskey 13 Year Old
- $79.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old
- $149.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
- $249.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old
“Although a lot of retailers charge more than our suggested pricing, we are not asking them to do so,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “We have not raised prices and do not intend to do so drastically in the future. We are committed to our quality and our pricing.”
The Van Winkle Whiskeys will be available starting in November, but please be mindful that supply is quite limited and bottles shall be hard to find in stores, bars and restaurants. As usual, they will be packed three bottles per case.