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**DONOTDELETE**
10-05-1999, 10:53
I just got off the phone with Julian Van Winkle and wanted to pass on two tidbits of good news.

First, although I couldn't weasel the source of the VWR 13/12 out of him, he did tell me that he's got some 15 YO rye still aging in his warehouse in Lawrenceburg that's coming along very nicely. Not much of it, he said, but he'll be doing something with it one of these days. Hope we get our share and it doesn't all go to Japan!

Second, good news for Hirsch fans. Van Winkle does the bottling for the Hirsch bourbons and he told me that there is "plenty" of the 16 YO still in the tanks. They just ran off a new bottling last week with a new label noting some of the outstanding reviews and awards this excellent Pennsylvania bourbon has won. Thank God, I say. This gives Bushido and I more time to buy lottery tickets: Michter's is still waiting!

Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

**DONOTDELETE**
10-05-1999, 11:01
Hi Lew,

Sam's WW had plenty of this on the shelves. It could be a new shipment, I don't know because Joe C. was off work the day I went in. Price has remained constant, $50 (as opposed to $75 in the 'burbs).

I didn't notice any new labelling, but I didn't look closely either since I've got several unopened in the vaults right now. I stocked up with the first bottling not knowing if any more was coming down the pike ever. I'll look again this weekend when I venture into the city. Also, I've got Delilah's scoped out.

Cheers,
Bushido

**DONOTDELETE**
10-05-1999, 18:00
Do you know where the "Old Commonwealth" bourbon that they sell at Sam's in Chicago comes from? It has been speculated that it is from Van Winkle. Guess I'll have to ask Joe C. about that...

The Old Commonwealth is a 10 year, 107 proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. From what I know about Van Winkle, there is a 10 year at 90 proof, and a 15 year at 107 proof. Could the Old Commonwealth be a 107 proof version, i.e. less watered down of the 10 year old Van Winkle?

I noticed that there are a few Sam's shoppers out there. Anyone have any comments about the Old Commonwealth that they sell there? It costs $20 a bottle, and seems to me to be a very good bourbon, especially for that price. I am not an expert taster, so I can't describe the flavour very well in words, but it does seem to have a very distinctive character that I enjoy very much.

-Bill

cowdery
10-05-1999, 21:18
I always assumed "Old Commonwealth" was VanWinkle's since Commonwealth is one of the names under which his Lawrenceburg site once operated. I have no other basis than that.

Historically, Van Winkle has gotten his bourbon from his family's old place, Stitzel-Weller, which has been closed for several years and is now on the block. He may still be using Stitzel whiskey, but that will run out eventually. He, obviously, won't tell where he gets it, but I am pretty confident of my sources on this.

As for "aging," the last time I was by his place he didn't have any warehouses, at least not there, at least none with aging whiskey in them. (One was recently demolished and the other was falling down and full of garbage.) Unless he has some barrels stacked in some corner of the bottling house, or is renting warehouses somewhere else, or has built a warehouse in the last couple years, his reference to "his" warehouses may be just a euphemism.

When there's Old Weller Antique (7 yrs./107 proof) to be had for $16, why buy any other wheated bourbon?

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
10-05-1999, 21:18
Well, Bill, I'll tell ya... When I called Van Winkle's offices today to get hold of Julian, they told me he was "at the distillery" and asked me if I had that number. They gave it to me, I called it, and a woman at the other end answered "Commonwealth!"
Conclusions are left as an exercise for the student.


Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

**DONOTDELETE**
10-06-1999, 11:10
>When there's Old Weller Antique (7 yrs./107 proof) to be had for $16, why buy any other wheated bourbon?

I have not tried that one. Do they have it at Sam's?

What about the W.L. Weller Centenial? Is that a wheated bourbon too?

-Bill

RyeCatcher
10-06-1999, 11:17
Lew, next time you chat with Van Winkle, tell him I love him! The 15 y.o. bourbon is perfection, IMHO.
On the other hand, if he bottles 15 y.o. rye and ships it all out of the country, our love affair is OVER!
--Jeff Frane

cowdery
10-08-1999, 13:13
Everything in the Weller line is wheated, as are Old Fitzgerald, Old Rip Van Winkle and Maker's Mark. I was disappointed by the Weller Centennial, especially for the price. For the best combination of quality and value, you can't beat the Weller Antique. It's even in that cool, gold veined, barrel shaped bottle Stitzel-Weller also used for the justly legendary Very Very Old Fitzgerald. I get it at Gold Standard Chalet on Clark Street, which is more convenient to me than Sam's, but I'm sure Sam's has it too.

- chuck

cowdery
10-14-1999, 11:51
BTW, I heard from Julian today. He apparently visits this forum, saw my note, and wanted me to know that he does, indeed, have a 200' x 50' warehouse at the Commonwealth Distillery site in Lawrenceburg. I stand corrected.

Wouldn't it be great if he would actually join and contribute to the forum? I'm sure we'd all like to take advantage of his knowledge and experience.

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
10-15-1999, 20:28
That WOULD be great!

JULIAN!! Come play with us! <g>



Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

jvanwinkle
10-17-1999, 14:53
Ok Lew, I'm here.(although leaving town for a few days 10/23). Fire away!
Julian

**DONOTDELETE**
10-17-1999, 18:52
Julian:

Thanks for providing this opportunity! I have several questions. First, a web site devoted to whiskey (http://www.mindspring.com/~mccarthy/whiskey/corn.htm) claims that the A. H. Hirsch 16 YO is "a high rye content Bourbon containing 50% corn, 38% rye, and 12% malted barley." If this were strictly true, it would fail to meet the legal requirements for sale as bourbon. So, any comments/info on the actual mashbill? If you cannot say, would you hazard an educated guess about its rye content? Along related lines, are there any bourbons with rye contents anywhere in the neighborhood of that whopping 38% given above? I have not yet had much experience with rye and bourbon whiskeys, but, from what I have tried thus far, I know that I very much like rye whiskey (and have a bottle of your Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 YO stashed for the upcoming False Millenium) and high rye content bourbons. For some reason, I appear to be in the small minority who find high rye boubons to be relatively smooth and sweet tasting, and very flavorful, while finding wheated bourbons to be somewhat harsh tasting.

My second question concerns Old Potrero. I have not tried it yet, but, assuming you have, do you have any opinions regarding making straight rye whiskey from 100% malted rye? Any pro/cons relative to more conventional mashbills? Any plans to have a go at this yourself?

Thanks for any insights/info you can provide and cheers!
Ed


Ed

RyeCatcher
10-19-1999, 16:05
Julian: lest it seem like simple brown-nosing, I'd like to note it's a public record that the 15 y.o. Van Winkle is my ultimate, favorite bourbon. Of course, I haven't had the 23 (?) y.o. -- way out of my price range. But I have poured the 15 y.o. for others with the simple note that *THIS* is the ultimate expression of American whiskey. To me, of course.
I find all your whiskeys exceptional, in fact, and was smitten with the Reserve Rye as well.
Please, don't change anything!
--Jeff Frane

**DONOTDELETE**
10-19-1999, 21:46
Good man!

No real burning questions right now, only one I'm really interested in right at the moment is about the unmalted vs. malted rye question, and I intend to ask Fritz Maytag about that in a couple weeks. Glad you checked in, you've got some real fans here!


Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

**DONOTDELETE**
10-22-1999, 10:03
Greetings Julian,

I hope that you will not think I am being too impertinent, but there is a question which has been haunting me for about a year now that I was hoping onto which you might shed some light. Is the A.H. Hirsch Rye the same whiskey as the Van Winkle's Family Reserve Rye? Does it (they) come from the old Medley distillery in Owensboro? Any family connection to the Rittenhouse Rye 50v released by Heaven Hill, other than by brand name association?

Thanks,
Bushido

jvanwinkle
10-24-1999, 16:19
Jeff,
Thanks for the nice comments. Actually, the 15 year is my favorite,before dinner, also. I just finished off a bottle while in Arizona this week.
After dinner, it's definitely "Pappy".
Julian

jvanwinkle
10-24-1999, 16:24
Bushido,
If I told you the answers to those questions, I would have to shoot you after I told you. I will tell you that I do bottle Hirsch Rye.
None of my rye is related to Heaven Hill or Old Rittenhouse.
Julian

**DONOTDELETE**
10-26-1999, 21:01
Julian,

Thanks for the nondenial denial. It's as clear as mud to me now. Well, whatever they are, the Van Winkle ryes are very enjoyable (you know a rose by any other name). I sincerely hope that you consider additional US releases in this series....

Cheers,
Bushido

**DONOTDELETE**
11-10-1999, 16:38
Well I got my hands on some Weller Antique, and all I can say is, "What was supposed to be so great about this whiskey?" No offense to Chuck, who recommended it, and obviously knows a lot more about Bourbon than I do, but I have tried about 20 different kinds of Bourbon, and this one has to be by far the worst. It doesn't even taste like Bourbon! Diesel fuel is more like it.

Maybe this is what is meant by "Distinctive Character". I guess different is good, but why does this one taste so radically different than all the other bourbon's I have tried?

Sorry to be so harsh. No flaming is intended here. Maybe my opinion is different, but I just can't help but have the feeling that I am missing something here. Can someone please enlighten me?

-Bill

cowdery
11-11-1999, 10:31
Bill,

No offense taken. Different strokes for different folks. I'm just sorry you had a bad experience on my recommendation.

If you have not already done so, try diluting the whiskey with an equal amount of room temperature water. That should knock back some of the alcohol intensity and allow you to enjoy the more subtle flavors. Obviously, I don't know what else you have tried, but if you are used to drinking 80 proof bourbon neat, a 107 proof spirit can be a bit of a shock.

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
11-11-1999, 12:35
Chuck,

I actually did a little blind taste testing to see if I could substantiate my belief that there was something very different about the Weller Antique.

I put equal amounts of 3 different bourbons in identical glasses. I put an invisible identifier on the bottom of each of the 3 glasses. I then scrambled the glasses around so I did not know which was which. The 3 bourbons were:

Old Commonwealth (107 proof)
Weller Antique (107 proof)
Wild Turkey Rare Breed (108.6 proof)

So the whiskeys were all almost exactly the same proof, and no water was added to the glasses.

I then commenced to tasting the whiskey. After taking a couple of sips of each one (with some palate cleansing in between), I determined that there was one of the 3 that stood out. At first, it tasted similar to the other 2, but the finish was extremely harsh. Not smooth at all. I was getting a very strong and unpleasant after taste from that particular one.

I then decided it was time to check the bottom of the glass. Sure enough, the one with the unpleasant after taste and very unsmooth finish was the Weller Antique.

So there is no doubt in my mind that this whiskey is a stand out. However, we seem to have differing reactions to those characteristics that distinguish the weller antique from other bourbons.

Like you say Chuck, different strokes for different folks. However, I am still curious. As a bourbon taster, can you describe what characteristics you like about the Weller Antique?

Long before I ever tried Weller Antique I tried the Weller Centenial, and I liked it a lot. What would you say are the big differences between those 2?

As an inexperienced taster, I am sometimes unable to take the tastes on my tongue and translate them to words. I understand that it is pretty much of a waste to use high end whiskeys to make mixed drinks because the mixer masks the subtleties of the desireable flavours that better whiskeys have. However, in the case of the Weller Antique, I can mix myself an "Antique and Coke" that is mostly Coke. Even in a mixed drink I can still detect the offensive after taste of the Weller Antique. When I first bought it, I just started drinking it, and didn't think much of the unusual flavour. Then the next morning, it was like I had residuals. I just could not get that taste out of my mouth. I guess I must prefer something that I percieve as being "smoother". Old Grand Dad 114, or even Booker's are certainly even stronger yet. Although I do get an intense alcohol flavour when drinking them neat, I still do not get the bad after taste that I associate with the Weller Antique. It is like a harsh, almost metalic taste that I have not detected in any other of the bourbons I have tried.

-Bill

shoshani
11-11-1999, 14:24
Regarding the speculation as to Old Commonwealth being a Van Winkle product:

I picked up a bottle at Sam's today (I haven't taken it home to open it yet).

The label features a barrel with the slogan "Asleep Many Years In The Wood".
The label also has, at the very bottom, the letters "VW" in a circle--an emblem appearing on other Van Winkle products.
The whiskey is 107 proof. Who else bottles at that strength? :-)

I think it's a safe bet that Joe is getting it from Julian. Then again, Joe can pretty much get any thing he wants, I think... ;-)

Michael Shoshani

shoshani
11-11-1999, 17:11
I wrote "The label features a barrel with the slogan 'Asleep Many Years In The Wood'."

That should have read "Asleep In The Wood Many Years". Slight variation.

Sorry, Julian :)

cowdery
11-11-1999, 18:57
It doesn't happen often, but it sounds like you may have gotten some bad product. Your experience is certainly not the same as mine with Weller Antique. You made me go pour a glass of Weller Antique, and it is as I remember it, rather dry for a bourbon, a trait it shares with Blanton's. I get black licorice, char and brine on the tongue, black pepper in the nose.

All I recall about Centennial is that it seemed on a par with all the other Stitzel-Weller whiskeys and not enough better to justify a premium price. I don't have any Centennial right now to compare them.

Bourbon tasting is difficult not just because some of the tastes are subtle, but because others are so strong. I used to lack confidence in my palate too, but then I decided you just have to go for it. Like everything else, you gain confidence as you gain experience. Don't sell yourself short. Lots of people are regarded as great tasters not because they have any special gift, but because they have a forum.

So, because I trust your tastbuds, I think you may have got something that has something wrong with it.

- chuck

jvanwinkle
11-12-1999, 15:14
Chuck,
I have read what Bill said about the Antique Weller, and I agree with you, it must be a bad bottle for some reason. I bet if Bill tried another bottle, from somewhere else, it would be fine. There is no telling what combination of aged whiskeys thAT UD puts in Centenial Weller and Antique Weller, but whatever they are, the two whiskeys can be very different. U D had alot of excess of wheated bourbon so they could have used several different ages in each bottling. But all the bourbons they used were good, so I believe the bottle Bill got is bad, why I don't know.
Julian

jvanwinkle
11-12-1999, 15:18
It's no secret, the Old Commonwealth is my whiskey. It does say,"Aged 1- years" on the label. Joe buys about 20 cases at a time.
Julian

shoshani
11-13-1999, 16:39
Julian Van Winkle wrote:

"It's no secret, the Old Commonwealth is my whiskey. It does say,"Aged 1- years" on the label. Joe buys about 20 cases at a time."

Joe's a smart man. This is damn fine, luxurious whiskey. After two drinks I made it my steady everyday Bourbon. Outstanding. (I was also swept away by the 13YO Rye, but this is the Bourbon forum, not the Rye one. :-) )


Michael Shoshani

**DONOTDELETE**
11-15-1999, 10:30
I was also very impressed with this whiskey. Joe let me taste some in the store, which is a really great thing to be able to do. It seems that recently, I have been trying whiskeys that are either good, but not worth the 30-40 dollars I pay for them, or they are more affordable whiskeys that either just don't do it for me, or worse. The Old Commonwealth is an outstanding whiskey at a very reasonbable price. With the holidays coming around, I may just pick up a whole case of it next time I am over at Sams.

-Bill

**DONOTDELETE**
11-15-1999, 10:50
I would like to find out for sure if my bottle of Weller Antique is bad, but I don't know how to go about doing that. I have the following problems with that:

1) I could just sent the unused portion to someone who knows. But who in their right mind is going to taste an opened bottle of anything that was sent to them from a stranger? I know I wouldn't. Still, I would feel a lot better if an experienced bourbon taster could take a snoot full and tell me what they think.

2) I could take it back to the hillbilly liquor store in Menomonee Falls, WI that I bought it from. I am a regular customer, so I figure that they would *probably* give me my money back. But I am not that concerned about the $18 that I spent on this. Getting my money back does not solve the mystery.

3) The bottle has some sort of batch or lot number on it. If I could contact whoever makes this stuff, maybe they have had complaints about that batch? I tried United Distillers in CT. From what I understand, they don't own Weller anymore, and I am having a hard time finding out who does. I would be willing to try another bottle, but only if it was free. I'm not going to spend another $18 and chance it. You would think that if there was anyone out there that owns or has responsibility for this brand, they would set me up with a free bottle so they could keep my business by convincing me to buy their stuff in the future. (BTW, the woman on the phone at UD asked me if Rum is the same as Whsikey).

4) I wonder if all this "UD brand shuffling" might be responsible for a lapse in quality?

-Bill

cowdery
11-15-1999, 12:44
I can help you with one small part of your dilemma, which is to tell you that Sazerac, in New Orleans, is the new owner of the W.L. Weller brand. They have a web site. However, the sale was earlier this year, so product in the pipeline is probably still from UD.

You may want to find out where the liquor store gets its Weller products, i.e., what distributor handles Weller in your area. The distributor is liable to be more response than either the retailer or the manufacturer. Your retailer can provide that information.

Re consulting another set of taste buds, if there is a bartender you know who is knowledgable about whiskey, he or she might be willing to taste it for you.

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
11-15-1999, 15:01
Chuck,

Thanks for the info on Sazerac. I suppose another way to approach this would be to find a bar that has the weller antique and order myself a glass of it. It would be nice to have someone knowledgable taste my bottle, but I trust my taste buds enough to simply try tasting another bottle and see how it strikes me. However, I don't want to fork over the $$$ for another bottle.

I have not seen the weller antique in any of the Milwaukee establishments that cater to higher end stuff. However, I will be in Chicago this weekend. Know of any good places on the north side that serve the Weller Antique?

If I could try the weller antique somewhere else, and if it tasted OK to me, then I would be very convinced that there is something wrong with the bottle I have. I don't expect to get any satisfaction from Sazerac necesarilly, but it would satisfy me just to know what the story is.

Don't these distilleries have tasters that try the whiskey out after it is aged and before it is bottled? This may be getting way ahead of the game here, but I wonder what could have gone wrong?

-Bill

**DONOTDELETE**
11-16-1999, 08:50
Bill,

You're going to have to find a real bourbon specialty bar to find the Weller to sample. However, I think you should go to Sazerac. They're sharp, and if you get to the right person, they should see the sales logic in making you happy. Like you said, the $18 isn't the real driver here, so let your curiosity take you up the line and see what happens. Sure, as Chuck said, it's not their whiskey that you have, but it WILL be their whiskey that you will or will not be purchasing again. I think they'll pick up on that.
Keep posting, you've got us curious as well.



Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

cowdery
11-16-1999, 12:13
Delilah's, on Lincoln, or the Twisted Spoke, on Ogden, might have it, but those are about the only possibilities.

At the distillery, the final quality check occurs when barrels are dumped prior to bottling. The bung hole plug is removed and a small amount of whiskey is extracted, diluted and sniffed. If it passes the sniff test, it is dumped and bottled. They may spot check after bottling, but the sniff test is the last time every unit of whiskey is checked for a possible problem. What can go wrong? A great number of things, all rare. Another possibility is a mix-up on the bottling line which caused something else to go into the Weller Antique run by mistake. For example, an undistinguished bourbon at 24 to 36 months might taste like what you described.

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
11-16-1999, 15:37
Funny you should mention the "sniff test". I opened up the bottle of Weller Antique and took a good sniff. The odd thing is, I don't notice anything offensive about the odor of the whiskey. It smells just fine to me. The color looks normal as well.

So, it smells OK, and it tastes OK at first- but not great. Then after it settles on the taste buds for a few seconds, it has a really unusual,strong and fumey and unpleasant after taste. Very strange.

As for Lew's post regarding contacting Sazerac, I left a voice mail for someone there, but have not received a response. I will be more persistant. I don't think it will happen, but I would like to get a complimentary bottle of something out of the deal.

-Bill

**DONOTDELETE**
11-18-1999, 10:36
Here is the update on the Old Weller Antique saga:

Last night, still being somewhat unsure of my tasting skills, I did another double-blind taste test. This time, I compared the Weller Antique (107 proof) with the W.L. Weller Centenial (100 proof). Equal amounts of each were placed in their respective glasses. I labeled the glasses, then scrambled. Once again, I was able to tell which was which instantly, i.e. after the first sip of each one. The Centenial tastes great. A smooth refined taste with a hint of vanilla. The Antique was not pleasant at first, then as the whiskey settled on my pallete, it got much much worse. I've never tasted isopropyl alcohol before, but the after taste reminded me of what isopropyl smells like. The Antique wasn't even close to the Centenial.

Now I realize that the Centenial sells for about twice as much as the Antique. However, the Antique was purchased for $18, which is an amount of money that can easily fetch a very decent bottle of Whiskey. Also, I drink Jim Beam all the time, and although it is not as luxurious and complex in flavour as the more expensive whiskeys I have tried, I do enjoy the Beam, and it does not offend me in any way. No terrible after taste with the Beam, and it sells for less than half of what the Antique sells for.

So anyway, I think that by now, I am totally convinced that there is either something very wrong with my bottle of antique, or there is some other junk in that bottle that is not Weller Antique.

I am making some great progress now with the manufacturer. After UD and Sazerac bounced me around a few times between them (UD sold weller to Sazerac), I am now in touch with the Quality assurance manager at the Buffalo Trace distillery, which is apparantly where the Weller Antique is made. He is going to arrange for me to ship the bottle to them free of charge where they will then perform a laboratory analysis on the contents. They are also going to send me a replacement bottle. Once I taste the new bottle, I think I will have my answer. I hope they will also share the results of the laboratory analysis with me when it is complete.

Stay tuned for the epilogue.

-Bill

cowdery
11-18-1999, 13:43
Bill, you wrote: "either something very wrong with my bottle of antique, or there is some other junk in that bottle that is not Weller Antique."

It is more likely mis-bottled than that something caused good whiskey to "go bad." Not much can change whiskey except oxidation, and that doesn't cause the taste you described. It seems more likely that something foul was mistakenly bottled as Weller Antique.

I'm glad to hear the reaction from Buffalo Trace. That's the right thing to do.

Just out of curiousity, does the label identify Louisville, KY as the source? It should say at the very bottom of the front label. If it doesn't, then it might be Sazerac's whiskey after all. Unlikely, but check and let us know.

And definitely keep us posted on the saga. It should be very interesting.

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
11-18-1999, 23:15
Chuck wrote: "I'm glad to hear the reaction from Buffalo Trace. That's the right thing to do."

Absolutely. I'm glad they came through, but I'm not surprised. Sazerac has impressed the hell out of me lately, and I don't mean they've given me free booze and flown me to Kentucky (okay, they did give me one bottle, but I'm not THAT cheap). They're doing things the right way, the way they ought to be done. I'm optimistic about them.

Keep us posted, Bill!




Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

**DONOTDELETE**
11-29-1999, 11:05
First of all, I just got a check from United Distillers, which was the former owner of Weller Antique. So that is very satisfying, because I can use that money to buy something I like, such as the Van Winkle 15 year.

As for solving the mystery of what the deal is with this bottle of Weller Antique that I have, I think I am getting closer to finding out what it is exactly about this whiskey. I finally got a whiskey drinking friend of mine to try the Weller Antique that I have (my particular bottle that I did not like). I told him I didn't like it, and he responded by asking why he should try it if it is no good. I explained that I need another opinion here, so he kindly obliged. Here is what he said about the Weller Antique that I gave him to sample:

-------------------------------------------------------------
I put each of the Antique and some Corner Creek in brandy snifters (the
better to nose it with).
There really was no major nose difference, except that the Antique might
be higher proof. It seemed that there was more alcohol vapor present.

Upon tasting, I noticed a marked difference in flavor.
The Antique has what I would call an astringent character and
significant woody flavor. It was very reminiscent of that taste you get
when you eat fresh-cracked walnuts (there's a membrane in the shell
which tastes very astringent). There is a similar note in some very old
(25+ yr) scotches I have tried.

Remembering what old Booker Noe said about aging, it's very likely that
this is the character you get from a bourbon which is "old for it's age"
-- perhaps from barrels stored in the higher heat of the upper floors of
the storage building.

I believe that there is nothing funky at all about this bourbon - though
I can't say it's my favorite. It's just natural flavors imparted by the
wood - tannins and other wood-related extractives. The name itself
should probably give you a clue -- Antique.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

So, from his analysis above, it does seem to be a case of "different strokes for different folks". I guess I just don't like the taste of this bourbon. I still wonder why no other bourbon I have tasted has these characteristics that I find offensive.

Buffalo Trace distillery (now does Weller Antique) has offered to pay for the shipment of this bottle back to them for analysis. I will take them up on that, but I suspect that they will find nothing wrong with the whiskey. I will be very interested to find out what their conclusion is. I suppose there is still a possibility that there is either some other whiskey in that bottle other than Weller Antique, or that the particular batch that is in that bottle is not their best stuff. However, it is starting to look more and more like Weller Antique is just not my cup of tea. I got my refund, so maybe I should just take that money and buy some Van Winkle 15 year and leave well enough alone!

Any comments on this would be appreciated.

-Bill

cowdery
11-30-1999, 11:39
Your friend's comments notwithstanding, I think you should follow through with Buffalo Trace and see what they tell you. If nothing else, it will tell them that the Weller brand has partisans who are serious about the quality of their whiskey.

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
12-03-1999, 14:29
Can you tell me more about the Hirsch 16 year?

What I want to know is:
1) Is it worth $50 a bottle?
2) One of my favorites of all time is the Van Winkle 15 year. How does the Hirsch compare to that?
3) How does Hirsch compare to other bourbons you have tried? Can you try and describe the flavours?

I also wish to try the 20 year Pappy Van Winkle. This being even higher bucks(~$70), I want to know more about it. What about the 23 year Pappy Van Winkle? Has anyone seen that around, and if so, how much?

-Bill

cowdery
12-05-1999, 19:40
I haven't had the Hirsch, I have had the Pappy.

The thing about specialty bottlings or whatever you want to call them, ultra-super-mega-premiums, whatever, is that the reason to buy them is that they are a one-of-a-kind experience. They are rare, special experiences. They're worth $70 for their rarity not because they are necessarily that much better than a less expensive whiskey. A bottle of Pappy doesn't cost 3-4 times more than the lowest priced VanWinkle bourbon because it's necessarily 3 to 4 times better. It goes without saying that a $70 bottle of bourbon had better be high quality whiskey. What I recall about Pappy is that it is a nearly perfect example of that type of whiskey, so if you have had and enjoyed any of the other VanWinkle bourbons, you probably would enjoy Pappy.

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
12-09-1999, 17:56
> also wish to try the 20 year Pappy Van Winkle. This being even higher bucks(~$70), I want to know more about it. What about the 23 year Pappy
> Van Winkle? Has anyone seen that around, and if so, how much?

As I said in another post, I think the 20 year Pappy is incredible -- rich, smooth. I wouldn't just go out and buy a bottle (the $70 is a lot when there are other great bourbons that are cheaper, i.e., Wooford Reserve), but it makes a really nice gift (that's how I got my bottle). As for the 23 year, I think it is export-only (alas...).



DirtyCowboy

jvanwinkle
12-10-1999, 08:51
23-Year "Pappy" is available in US. 3,000 bottles were produced. All bottles are numbered. Once they are gone, that's it. Sells for about $110.00 to $150.00, depending upon the market. This bourbon is like a cognac. Definitely for after dinner.
JPVW

**DONOTDELETE**
12-14-1999, 09:20
Bill--
"Can you tell me more about the Hirsch 16 year?"

You bet!

1) Is it worth $50 a bottle?

I paid $55. And went back and got another. And I'm a cheap, stingy bastard.

2) One of my favorites of all time is the Van Winkle 15 year. How does the Hirsch compare to that?

Well, it's one of my favorites of all time. And I also really like the Van Winkle 15 year. I don't pour the Hirsch for just anyone, just any time. It stays in the back of the closet, where only I can reach it. Told you I was a stingy bastard.

3) How does Hirsch compare to other bourbons you have tried? Can you try and describe the flavours?

Wow. Hmmm... I'd have to do a fresh sampling, and I'm sick as a dog right now. Let me get back to you on this. As far as compare... I'd say it's a bit leaner than the VW 15 YO, but more complex in flavor and aroma.
Here's the tasting notes from Malt Advocate V.8, No.1, where it was named Domestic Whiskey of the year: "Chestnut colored. Rich thick aromas of maple syrup, sandalwood, dark berries, molasses, leather, and spice (especially mint). A thick-textured whiskey, which coats the mouth. Rich, complex flavors, very spicy, with plenty of mint, evergreen, dried apricots, toffee, and vanilla. Long soothing finish."

That do you?


Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

**DONOTDELETE**
12-28-1999, 09:40
Bill,

I would also recommend that you return the bottle of Antique Weller to the Distillery for evaluation. They need the opportunity to investigate and troubleshoot this problem. From my experience in investigating packaged product in another industry, there are several possible explinations that do not pertain to how the whiskey is made, but rather how it was bottled: The bottling machine or piping could have been repaired or cleaned, and your bottle might have been the first to be filled afterward. Another possibility would be the bottles themselves, it is not impossible that one bottle in a batch would not be completely cleaned. There might be something wrong with the cork or cap ?

I am not certain that packaging is you problem, but want to point out that a one time occurance is possible. The distillery would best be able to investigate this, particuairly if they have access to spectrographic instrumentation. At the very least, they would be experts on the taste.

Good luck, and let us know what you find out.

Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas

**DONOTDELETE**
01-15-2000, 20:31
Julian, We do not get Van Winkle here in Arkansas, but a friend who is traveling to Chicago just e-mailed me to let me know he found a bottle of you 12 year old and is bringing it back for me. I see pleasant moments in my future.

While I wait I have a question for you. Many of the bourbons I have tried have had a sweet element to them. But there seems to be different types of sweetness. Rebel Yell and Eagle Rare have an up front 'simple sweetness' that is tastes like sugar. Wild Turkey Rare Breed has a more sophisticated sweetness, more of a caramel taste. I even sipped some 'Mellow Corn' straight corn whiskey, which is sweet in the character of corn syrup, and quite hollow in every other respect. Can you enlighten us as to the sources of sweet tastes in bourbon. Is some from the grain, some from the sour mash process, and others from the barrel ? Sweetness is a mixed blessing, since too much of a good thing can quickly spoil the balance of bourbon. After tasting the pure corn whiskey I can easily see the wisdom of adding the rye.

Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas

**DONOTDELETE**
01-23-2000, 17:57
I have the final verdict on the "Old Weller Antique" saga. The analysis is thorough, and I think that the conclusion is very clear.

Let me start by recapping the highlights so far:
- I go to liquor store and see "old Weller Antique" bourbon. I have heard that this is a good wheated bourbon, and I seem to enjoy other wheated bourbons that I have tried, so for $18.99 I decide to give it a try.

- I proceed to drink the bourbon, and decide that it has a very peculiar and unusual flavor. Of the several different brands of bourbon that I have tasted, none have been quite like this one.

- Over the course of the next few days, I try the bourbon again, then perform some double blind taste tests with other bourbons that I have in my stock. The blind taste tests conclude that something about the Old Weller antique sticks out like a sore thumb. A very unpleasant and offensive aftertaste. Somewhat bitter, with an overtly "petrochemical" overtone.

- I convince a fellow bourbon drinker to taste some. I gave him a sample so he could try it more objectively in the comfort of his own home. He commented that although he did not believe that there was something funky about this bourbon, i.e. there was nothing actually defective about my particular bottle, he did note that for a bourbon, it was somewhat bitter and unusually astringent. As a scotch drinker, he noted that this was reminiscent of some of the very old scotches he has tried, but had not noticed this type of flavor in any of the bourbons that he had ever tried.

- In sharing this information with the straightbourbon.com discussion group, it seemed that the consensus was while it *could* be a case of "different strokes for different folks", i.e. I simply don't care for this particular style or brand of bourbon, it very well could be a manufacturing defect, a bad batch, or something contaminating the bottling lines.

- I then started researching who could help me with this. United Distillers has sold the brand to sazerac. Sazerac then referred me to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. I contacted them, and they were extremely helpful. The quality assurance manager fed exed me a replacement bottle, and he paid to have the remains of my bottle shipped back to him for a laboratory analysis.

And now here are the results:

I got my replacement bottle and tasted some of the bourbon. It tasted the same to me as the bottle I returned. I had saved a little of the old bottle, and in a double blind taste test against the new bottle, the old bottle, and a reference sample, I could tell no difference between the new bottle and the old bottle. I could however distinguish both from the reference sample. At this time, after all these weeks of wondering, I finally had my answer. It was indeed a case of "different strokes for different folks". I concluded that the probability of both bottles from completely different batches being defective is rather unlikely, and I waited for the results of the analysis.

I received the results of the analysis, and all of the parameters that they tested for were in spec. Furthermore, the returned bottle's contents were then taste tested by 3 different individuals at the distillery. They noted that there was nothing "off" that could be detected about the returned sample.

So there you have it folks. Out of the 25 or 30 different bourbons that I have tried, I find the Old Weller Antique to be the least desireable. However, your mileage may vary. Whatever it is that distinguishes this bourbon from the others that I have tried is the same character that someone else might love.

Much thanks to the folks at Buffalo Trace for going to all the trouble to check this out. Their customer service is top notch in my book, even though I can't say that this particular brand of bourbon is.

Check out
http://www.tastings.com/action.lasso?-database=BottleBase.fp3&-layout=WebFields&-response=forms/search/shopping_list.html&-noresults=forms/search/search_error.html&-maxRecords=30&-Find=&Keyword=recommended+bourbon

The weller antique only gets a an 83, but they say this:
Notice is served
by a strong assault on the nose. Notes of pear and peach over maple and
toffee. Very smooth with good length of fruit and butterscotch in the finish.

I know there are some fans out there. Therefore, I am going to offer to ship almost an entire liter of Old Weller Antique to the first person that wants it. Send me a private message (billf) on the straightbourbon.com discussion board, and it's yours. I'd rather spend my time drinking something that I happen to dig more, for whatever reasons.

-Bill

**DONOTDELETE**
01-31-2000, 15:44
" Hey guys, The boys and I just got our hands on a bottle of A. H. Hirsch 16 yr old and think that it is quite good and recommend y'all try it. We experimented around a bit and found the best way to drink it was one part Hirsch and three parts Diet Coke. We tried normal coke, but found the extra sweetness distracted from the bourbon taste a bit too much. It is also important, IMO, to use crushed ice, cube ice did not seem to get it cold enough. We wanted to try it with Mountain Dew, but spilled the can on the floor before we could mix it up, so I will have to post this later. I think a good question to throw out to the group (those who have a supply of Hirsch) would be to share our Ideas on the best mixers for this fine bourbon. Another thing: we lost the cork somehow, and a friend suggested I put the rest of the bottle in the freezer to reduce evaporation. I cannot wait to snatch the bottle and find out if this extra coldness helps. "

Jack "Daniels" McCracken
I 'Volunteer' for Tennessee Whiskey

**DONOTDELETE**
02-01-2000, 06:00
good one:)

shoshani
02-01-2000, 07:51
Jack "Daniels" McCracken wrote:

" I think a good question to throw out to the
group (those who have a supply of Hirsch) would be to share our Ideas on the best mixers for this fine
bourbon."

I like my Hirsch about 1/5 Hirsch and 4/5 Old Thompson. If your local liquor store doesn't have any more
Old Thompson sitting on the back shelves, you CAN use Kessler...but you have to mix it 1/4 Hirsch and
3/4 Kessler to get it to taste like anything.

Regarding your idea of mixing it with Mountain Dew, the only drink I have found that to be at all palatable
with is 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle. 1 oz of Pappy to 6 oz of Dew should be about right.

Michael Shoshani

**DONOTDELETE**
02-01-2000, 09:34
Given your moniker, why not make a wine cooler with 1/2 Hirsch to 1/2 MD 20/20? Keeping with the fruity theme, have you considered jello shots?

Cheers,
Bushido

Theron Volkman
02-01-2000, 12:51
This is a joke right! Mixing good bourbon with coke would be like putting catsup on a hotdog!

Theron

**DONOTDELETE**
02-01-2000, 19:31
Jack, for the love of God, if you lose the cork you DRINK THE BOTTLE DRY! Any bourbon drinker worth his salt knows ... Oh. Wait a minute. You drink JD, don't you?

Never mind.

Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

jbutler
02-02-2000, 10:37
Lew,
Good to see you are still alive and cantankerous as ever ... you had me worried for a while there.

Regards,

Jim Butler
StraightBourbon.com

**DONOTDELETE**
02-02-2000, 12:15
Theron, this may seem like a joke to you, but that is how me and the boys do things up here on Rocky Top.

Lew, good suggestion. In fact last night on the way home I stopped at a quick shop for a 40 ounce bottle of Schlitz Malt Liquor. One of these will usually last all evening. Well, wouldn't you know, I lost the twisty cap. So before I left the truck I made sure that big 'artillary shell' bottle was dry. Thanks.

Been doin a little more expermintin' : Another killer combination is Hirsch and peppermint schnapps. The Hirsch brings forth the peppermint taste like no other bourbon. Add a few peppermint leaves and a teaspoon of brown sugar and the peppermint flavor just explodes onto your taste buds. Exquisite.

Jack "Daniels" McCracken
I 'Volunteer' for Tennessee Whiskey

jvanwinkle
02-02-2000, 16:21
I've got to weigh-in on this one boys.
Last year, I was at a party at a friends house over Christmas in Mobile, AL. We were all enjoying a bottle of Old Rip 90 proof. After it was drained, the host brought out a bottle of Jack Black. We all "tried" a sip...we all went to beer after that.
JPVW

Theron Volkman
02-03-2000, 13:24
Come now Julian, in all fairness there is only a handfull of whiskies that can stand up to Old Rip.
Besides you are only supposed to drink "Jack Black" out of dirty shot glasses in smoke filled bars late at
night when you are trying to convince some sweet young thing that she ought to come home with you.

Theron

cowdery
02-04-2000, 10:52
I was in a bar last night with some friends who are many years my junior. One of them wanted to know what scotch he should specify for the Rusty Nail he was ordering and he couldn't quite grasp that the correct answer is: "It doesn't matter." (The upscale bar had no well brands.)

- chuck

**DONOTDELETE**
02-10-2000, 10:30
It's like worrying about whether the tequila in your strawberry frozen margarita is 100% agave. If you're gonna do that to it, it's too late anyway.

Hey Jack! I hope you're using the Hirsch 20 Year Old in all these crankcase drinks you're making!

Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

**DONOTDELETE**
02-10-2000, 10:33
Heh...

I must admit, I'm hanging around here to learn from Chuck. If I'm not saying anything, it's because I don't care to reveal my ignorance.

Cantankerous, on the other hand, that I got down pretty good!

Lew Bryson
Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon