Still Sleepy After All These Years

ripRip Van Winkle was an idle man that incurred the wrath of his wife because of his laziness and the fact that he didn’t get anything done around his homestead. The story goes one afternoon he wandered up into the mountains and met a band of ghosts playing 9 pin. He joined them and drank their liquor then found a nice spot under a shady tree and fell asleep… for 20 years. When he awoke he promptly proclaimed his loyalty to King George, not realizing that he had slept through the revolutionary war! So the evidence is in that he must have been disoriented and still tired. Maybe its in the name, because when I tasted the 12 year old Van Winkles Special Reserve Lot B I thought this bourbon woke up too early…

Van WinklesThis is the third in my into the wheat series posting because Van Winkles Special Reserve is a wheat bourbon from arguably the best wheat juice makers in the business the Van Winkles. Just looking at the color of the bourbon heightened my anticipation of what I was going to experience. This looked good!

This is a 90.4 proof or 45.2% ABV bourbon. The nose on this bourbon was full of old leather and oak. It was understated like a lot of wheat bourbons are. The flavor is a mixture of black cherry and cloves, with the finish being mildly peppery with a hint of a burn that was short lived only about 30 seconds, and therein lies the problem.


The mouth feel on this whiskey is excellent, very smooth and thick. Its flavor is good, but understated with some barrel tones on the finish.

On the Rocks

Cooling this bourbon just makes it cold! Almost no difference in flavor indicating it is very well structured. There is slightly more barrel char flavor on the finish.

With a Splash

Did I mention that this was a well structured bourbon? And how! Water just eliminates the little bit of burn that this had in the first place. There is still plenty of nose and flavor even with water.

So this bourbon was good, but not as complex or as robust as I was expecting for a 12 year old wheater. The finish was hidden, and the barrel notes were understated. It is a good bourbon, but for $47 after taxes I think I would rather have two Old Weller Antique bottles and a pack of mints! It was woken up too early, and needs to sleep a while longer to fully develop those barrel notes and the complexity of a 15 year old Pappy Van Winkles. All in all I’d say this bourbon is overrated!

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Categories: Whiskey

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4 Comments on “Still Sleepy After All These Years”

  1. October 28, 2009 at 4:45 am #

    Don – it would be interesting to put the Lot B up against Weller 12. Same age and virtually the same proof and of course, both wheaters. If I were doing this, I would do a flight of three which would include the standard Weller 12 year and then add a Binny’s Weller 12 which is actually a 14 year old Bernheim.

    • Don
      October 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm #

      That sounds like fun Greg. I was actually thinking of doing a post after I finish my into the wheat series, called “Flight of the Wheaters” where I would put all the wheat juice I reviewed on the Into the Wheat series against each other. So that would be OWA 7 year, WLW SR 7 Year, Vanwinkles Lot B 12 year, Old Fitz 1849 8 Year, then Rebel Yell, and of course the one that started the whole thing Makers Mark. That would be 6 wheaters in one flight. What do you think of that idea?


  2. October 29, 2009 at 5:10 am #

    Don – definitely something that would be fun and interesting. I went to a tasting at a friends house where we did two flights. Wheaties (various wheat bourbons stacked up) and As the years go by (wheat bourbons through 8 decades). I would stack them up by age or proof so you get an idea of how age or proof affects the overall experience. Is that Rebel Yell a current bottle or dusty?

    • Don
      October 29, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

      The Rebel Yell is current. Like everything in a control state. I was a little excited at my Ancient Age find because the bottle stamp is 07. I know how pathetic I would be excited about an 07 stamp on the bottle, but out here that is ancient. I also read your final art of the dusty hunt post. Again very informative, but where I live I’m pretty sure I can go any day of the week and at any time and be ok. Good advice though for those in major metro areas. When I do the flight it will be interesting. I like your suggestion to stack them by age and proof. Wouldn’t have thought to do that on my own. Thanks


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