Half as Much Van Winkle to go Around this Year

| October 15, 2015

In a move calculated to strike fear into the heart of even the most deep-pocketed bourbon lover, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery recently circulated a press release warning us that “some of the angels were extra greedy over the past two decades, leaving us less bourbon than in previous years.”

Van Winkle bottles

image via Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery)

Kris Comstock, the brand’s Marketing Director, explains how many of their oldest barrels frequently yield less than 20 gallons, a reduction in volume of well over 50%. “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.”

The full lineup is expected to hit stores in November. The press release gives the following suggested retail pricing for the six different expressions (but good luck paying that!):

  • $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
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Julian Van Winkle says “Although a lot of retailers charge more than our suggested pricing, we are not asking them to do so. We have not raised prices and do not intend to do so drastically in the future.” It’s a nice gesture, but with this shortage, we expect even more competitive – and expensive – retail conditions out there than in years past. Happy hunting!

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Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is...