View Full Version : ORVW 15yo

02-25-2005, 08:44
Yesterday, I ventured to a liquor store in Central Ohio that I had never been to before, trying to find something that the other dozen stores I've been to didn't stock. I found absolutely nothing new (I can't find any ryes other than Old Overholt around here!!!) until I got to the very end of the shelf.

Two bottles of ORVW 15 year old.

I have never come across any of the Van Winkles around here, so this quickly caught my eye. I then noticed the condition of the bottles. They were quite dusty and the label was extremely aged. The numbers on the bottles were L4249 and L4246 and they were going for just under $40.

Can anyone tell me about this bottling (when they were bottled, quality compared to other bottlings, etc...) and if they are worth shelling out for? I have read many great reviews here of all things Van Winkle, but I rarely venture above the $30 mark.

Thanks in advance for any information.


Ken Weber
02-25-2005, 09:02
Van Winkle Rye (15 year) is no longer made. I would suggest picking up those bottles as they represent some of the finest rye whiskey available. I know I am partial, as the Buffalo Trace Distillery is the producer of Van Winkle whiskies. However, the bottles in question came from Lawrenceburg. These were barrels Julian picked out several years ago.


02-25-2005, 11:58
Ken Weber, who is vastly more knowledgeable than I, has already responded, but I'm not sure he interpreted your question correctly.

Indeed, Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 y/o may be the finest whiskey I've ever tasted. (I have only three bottles left, IIRC, and I haven't tasted it in nearly a year. Perhaps it's not really as marvelous as I remember.) If you happen to find it, buy one bottle regardless of price. If you find it under $40, buy all you can afford. I believe either Ken or Julian Van Winkle has stated in this forum that all of Julian's stock has now been bottled. It will be a few years before rye produced by Buffalo Trace will be bottled as Van Winkle. I'd bet it will be good, but it won't be the same.

However, you referred to ORVW 15yo (Old Rip Van Winkle), which is a different bottling. It's not only a bourbon rather than a rye; I believe its mashbill contains no rye whatsoever. This bottling, too, is no more, but at least it has been replaced by a similar one (in a redesigned bottle). I'd recommend you spring for one bottle, but not with quite the same urgency as with the VWFFR.

One of my first experiences (http://www.straightbourbon.comhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthreaded.php?Cat=0&Board=Tasting&Number=7443&S earchpage=1&Main=7443&Words=winkle+bluesbassdad&to pic=&Search=true#Post7443) with premium bourbon was its younger sibling, ORVW 10yo/107, which for a while I thought was the better of the two. Over time my fondness for longer-aged bourbon has increased, and I now slightly favor the 15 yo.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

02-25-2005, 12:54
Aw, hell, buy 'em both -- whatever else they are, they're Van Winkle. There's a good chance you'll love 'em. If not, let me know -- I'll take them off your hands.

Ken Weber
02-25-2005, 13:44
You are correct! I saw the word rye in the first paragraph and ......... Mea culpa!


02-26-2005, 00:43
Van Winkle Rye (15 year) is no longer made. I would suggest picking up those bottles as they represent some of the finest rye whiskey available.

Now I'm confused. 15yo Van Winkle Rye? Is the 13yo Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye still being made?

02-26-2005, 01:25
There was a slight mixup identifying the various Van Winkle bottlings in this thread, and you talk of a 15 year van winkle rye, which doesn't exist... so, a primer on what various components of your query do actually exist..

The Van Winkle 13 year rye is formally named "Van Winkle Famiy Reserve Rye". This is a fine rye whiskey, and unfortunately, there is no more barrel stock left; It is indeed "all done" and it's wise to buy up any you see if you like this whiskey. AFAIK, there are no more bottlings scheduled for this expression.

The 15 year Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon in the squatty bottle with the extended neck (abbreviated as ORVW 15 yo) is also on the way out, but it's replaced by a new Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 year whiskey that is packaged in a tall wine style bottle with some absolutey gorgeous labels (kudos to the person who designed the Pappy 15 package... it's absolutely amazing, yet traditional)

This whiskey tastes significantly different than the ORVW15 whiskey, but it's made by the same folks, so there's another possible source of confusion. But, relating to your original question, it's not rye whiskey.

My summary: all of the stuff you're talking about is darn good whiskey, and if you're wondering whether to buy and try a bottle, then just go ahead and do it. Any of this stuff I've mentioned is good enough and priced well enough, so whatever the heck you ran into, it's worth buying, opening and enjoying without delay.

Please tell me what bottle you have in front of you


02-26-2005, 04:15
Wonderful bourbon..... We just finished our bottle of ORVW 15yo last night http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif.Off to the spirit shop today to get some more... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif.I'm going to buy 2 because I understand they've changed the bottling to the tall VW bottle and I kinda enjoy the squat bottle with the antique label....Besides its a dam fine sippin bourbon.....We pay between $36 and $40.....Enjoy http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

02-26-2005, 04:24
I agree any VW is worth buying.Here's a picture of just the ones I had in my
bar.The picture is taken by my cellphone so I will write what is on the labels.
From right;Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 90P,VWFR Rye 1985 100P
non chill filtered no age,VWFR Rye 13Y 95.6P,Hirsh Rye 13Y 95.6P
They are all from Lawrenceburg Julians Old Commenwealth days.
Maybe I'm wrong but I think the last two bottles contain the same Rye ?
I love em all,I love the Sazerak rye too Ken.

Koji http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

02-26-2005, 11:13

IIRC, Julian has stated here that, indeed, those two bottlings, the VWFR and the Hirsch at the same proof, contain the same whiskey.

However, that fact did not keep me and at least one other person here from imagining we tasted a slight difference -- just because of the power of suggestion, I suppose.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

02-26-2005, 16:35
The VWFR and Hirsch Selection come from the same stock but that doesn't necessarily mean the batch selected tastes the same as any previous or following batch.

Also the 13 year VWFR stock has been dumped to prevent further aging. Some will be released every year until new stock is of age.

02-28-2005, 17:58
Sorry, I've been out of town & just noticed this post.
The bottles in Ohio are most definitely 2 that we bottled in Lawrenceburg before I hooked up with BT. That whiskey should be excellent! Thus all the dust on the bottles. I would snag those ASAP because they are collector's items as we have switched to the Pappy label for the 15-year now. I don't think we have sold any 15-year to Ohio lately.
The Hirsch Rye & VWFR 95.6 proof were the same ryes. They may each taste a little different just because they were bottled from different lots of barrels a few months apart.

02-28-2005, 20:06
There are 15 bottles of ORVW 15 yr. old in PA. I bought a bottle last week and am drinking it right now. It is delicious! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif I am really enjoying this pour. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif I would never have even tried this if it wasn't for SB.com.

03-02-2005, 00:40
I'm a bit confused: So is it only the bottle/label that's changing for the 15yo ORVW (now Pappy), or is the bourbon different as well?

03-02-2005, 01:53
I have some of each, and I find that the new Pappy 15 is without question a very different bourbon. It has a lot more of a "char" taste, and I suspect that the barrels that made the current Pappy 15 were charred more deeply than the barrels that made ORVW15.

Both are fine whiskeys, but I personally prefer a whiskey that has less of this char taste. Pappy 15 opens up a bit with the addition of a little bit of water, but it's still not one of my current favorites. The ORVW15 is much more in line with my current preferences, as it's complex and subtle enough, but it has a "lightness" that makes it less acrid and smokey.

Don't get me wrong - I like tasting the effects of the barrel, but I find I like it better when the barrel effects are more integrated into the whiskey's flavor. The Pappy 15 to me has too much of a distance between the taste of the barrel and the other tastes in the whiskey itself.

Just my $0.02..

03-02-2005, 18:46
Julian, obviously, can give you the definitive answer but my understanding is that it is the "same" in the sense that it is wheated bourbon made at the now-closed Stitzel-Weller plant, and aged at least 15 years, in both products. However, it is not the same, just as different bottling runs of any of Julian's products are not the "same" in the sense that his bottling runs are so small that you are going to get barrel-to-barrel, year-to-year variations that will be subtle but noticable.

Every distiller tries to match a profile so a given product stays as consistent as possible bottle after bottle, year after year. When you are picking whiskey to bottle, you aren't necessarily looking for the best whiskey, you are looking for the whiskey that is most like what you put into that bottle the last time. Since Julian is changing the bottle and label, this is an opportunity to change the profile too, either to something he thinks is better, or at least to something he can continue to fill for longer.