Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery - Old Rip Van Winkle 10, 12, 15, 20 & 23 Year Old Bourbons and 13 Year Old Rye, 2020 Release

Ladies and gentleman start your Pappy plan in motion now. The annual announcement from the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery lineup of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon has arrived.

First this good news – the barrel yield from the 13 year old rye is up over previous years. The bad news – the barrel yield from the 20 and 23 year-old barrels fell short of last Falls release. While the amount of 10, 12 and 15-year bourbon will be about the same as previous years

Known for their wheat recipe versus the traditional rye forward recipe found in most bourbons, Van Winkle bourbons are able to be aged longer than most, in some cases two decades or more, resulting in a superior sweeter and smoother flavor. Although bourbon has become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years, very little Van Winkle is sold overseas, so that these coveted bottles are available in the United States.

Pappy Van Winkle - Preston Van Winkle and Julian Van Winkle III at Bourbon & Beyond 2019
Preston Van Winkle and Julian Van Winkle III at Bourbon & Beyond (L to R).

“Unfortunately even though we suggest what we believe to be a very low and fair MSRP, we cannot control the price retailers charge, and some retailers mark it up even though we and the distributors that those retailers buy from ask them not to,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “We are committed to releasing quality whiskey at a reasonable cost and we hope retailers will honor what we suggest as a fair retail price.”

2020 Van Winkle Bourbon Lineup Age Statement MSRP
Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old $69.99
Old Rip Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old $79.99
Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year Old $119.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old $119.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old $199.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old $299.99
Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery - Old Rip Van Winkle 10, 12, 15, 20 & 23 Year Old Bourbons and 13 Year Old Rye, 2020 Release

Buffalo Trace Offers a Warning to Flippers

Upon release of the Van Winkle bourbon this fall, Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky where Old Rip Van Winkle is distilled and aged, reminds fans to be wary of online resellers such as private Facebook groups, Craigslist and other online marketplaces.

“Trading and selling bourbon online is an unlicensed and illegal sale. If you are not a licensed retailer selling Van Winkle products, we are prepared to take action to curtail the activity,” says Kris Comstock, senior marketing director at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

“Additionally, if you are a customer trying to buy a bottle at a licensed retailer who has marked it up above MSRP, we encourage you to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or contact your state Attorneys General office.” Full list of Attorney Generals by state is here.

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. Good luck!

Why Do the Van Winkles Charge So Much for their Bourbon?

A lot of people think the Van Winkle family is making a ton of money off the Pappy that sometimes sells for north of $500+ per bottle. I’m sure the Van Winkles are doing just fine but they don’t collect any more money from the overpriced retail bottles (or illegal private sales) of bourbon than any other bottle. The Van Winkles can suggest a price but they don’t actually set the actual retail price.

In general, a distiller charges the distributor a price per case for its products. A distiller can then suggest the price a distributor should sell the product for and suggest a retail price or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). It is illegal for the distiller to dictate the pricing a distributor sells a product for. Since the distiller does not have a commercial relationship with any retailer, bar or restaurant it cannot enforce its MSRP. Legally, the distributor sets its price and the retailer does the same. And of course only licensed resellers are legally allowed to sell liquor. Selling liquor without a license is illegal and is punishable by fine and/or jail time depending on the circumstances and the state.

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A Brief History of Pappy Van Winkle and Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon

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. Pappy and a friend, Alex Farnsley, eventually bought the wholesale house and also partnered with Mr. A. Ph. Stitzel on the purchase of Mr. Stitzel’s distillery.  The three of them merged the two companies and became the Stitzel-Weller Distillery.   

In May of 1935 at the age of 61, Pappy opened the newly completed Stitzel-Weller Distillery in South Louisville. Its prominent brands were W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, and Cabin Still. Pappy 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 sold to Norton Simon, Inc. Later, United Distillers, who eventually ended up with the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, sold off all of the original labels around 1999.

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 whiskey stocks from the old distillery to supply his brand. Julian Jr.’s son, Julian, III took over in 1981 when Julian, Jr. passed away. Julian III has continued with the Van Winkle tradition of producing high-quality wheated bourbon. His son, Preston, joined the company in 2001 and the Van Winkles look to continue that tradition for generations to come. In 2002 the Van Winkles entered into a joint venture with Buffalo Trace Distillery in Franklin County, Frankfort, Ky. All of the Van Winkle’s whiskey production now takes place at Buffalo Trace Distillery under the same strict guidelines the family has always followed.

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