Someone told me once that there is over 100 bourbons that are made today. I simply cannot paint them all and there were quite a few on my short list that I did not even get to but I saved the best for last.
Pappy Van Winkle 20 year has received a rating of 99 by the Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery has a four generation history. The Van Winkle family's involvement in the bourbon industry began in the late 1800s with Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle, Sr. He was a traveling salesman for the W.L.Weller and Sons wholesale house in Louisville, Ky traveling around the state by horse and buggy. Pappy and a friend, Alex Farnsley, eventually bought the wholesale house and also purchased the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery, which made bourbon for Weller. The merged the two companies and became the Stizel-Weller Distillery. Their prominent brands were W.L.Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell and Cabin Still.
In May of 1935 at the age of 61, Pappy opened the newly completed Stitzel-Weller Distillery in South Louisville. He had a heavy influence on the operations there until his death at the age of 91. His son, Julian, Jr. took over operations until he was forced by stockholders to sell the distillery in 1972. The rights to all of their brands were either sold with the distillery or to other distilleries.
After selling the distillery, Julian Jr. resurrected a pre-prohibition label, the only one to which the Van Winkles kept the rights, called Old Rip Van Winkle. He used whiskeys stocks from the old distillery to supply his brand. Julian Junior's son, Julian III took over in 1981 when Julian Jr. passed away. Julian III has continued with the Van Winkle tradition of producing the highest quality wheated bourbon available. His son, Preston joined the company in 2001.
Recently, the Van Winkles entered into a joint venture with the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky. All of the Van Winkle's whiskey production now takes place at Buffalo Trace under the same strict guidelines the family has always followed in order to produce a superior quality product.
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