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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    After a lackluster search through Rhode Island and Connecticut liquor stores in terms of older interesting bottles, I found on the shelf a row of this now defunct rye, it was at Tanza Wines and Liquors in a strip mall in Fall River (on the south side for anyone who knows the area). Only $25, too. What a fabulous bottle, this is the best modern straight whiskey I think I've had this year or maybe ever. It reminds me of the ORVW 13 year old rye when issued in its earlier years (the later bottlings seem older-tasting and less well-balanced). Oddly, when both the 12 and 13 year olds came out I didn't like the 12 as much as the 13, it seemed a little rougher and less complete. Well, maybe sitting 5 years or more in damp New England has improved it and anyway now it is sensational. The bottle was properly sealed in that I had as usual to detach the plastic cap from the lower plastic rim but I noticed that the cap "spun around" as I twisted it open. It was a loose fit as sometimes happens with such closures and I'm glad of it because I think maybe some air got in and softened it down. It is sweet, rich and somewhat (but not overly) oaky, with haunting rye tangs that lend great complexity. Just amazing and I am sorry now I didn't buy the row of them. I know some gents on the board have bottles in their bunker. Try them, you may find they are better than ever. E.g., I got a slight fruity note in this bottle which I hadn't noticed in the bottles I bought a few years ago.

    I don't know the whys and wherefores but to me this bottle spells whiskey heaven.

    Gary

  2. #2

    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    Way to go, Gary -- you prompted a second pour in a week from this bottle, and it's down to its last 150mls or so, and a single, sealed backup. I just put it away in my 'take-to-Bardstown' carrier, so I don't finish it off prematurely.
    This baby is complexity personified: pepper, but white or black? floral, but violets or rose petals? -- all the while straining for that first strike of bow to fiddle strings as Charlie Daniels breaks into "Orange Blossom Special". It does sing!
    I get much more florid herbaceousness than fruit, Gary -- though I do sense a very light lemon-lime underlay. In fact, the citrus is what remains through the finish.
    It strikes me that this is almost transitional -- the medium-lightness and elegance of the earlier Eastern ryes combined with the bold, complex and ever-changing flavor of Kentucky ryes.
    Yes, one to be mourned.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    Good notes, Tim. I get a lot of what you describe but my sample seems so integrated, perfectly mature yet vibrant. Plus, I do get a light soft fruit note, not citric-like but more cherry-like (which characterised and still does ORVW 13 year old). I wonder if some air got in because of the looseish closure and softened the whiskey and lent this note. I left a bottle of Old Overholt at my relations there 3 summers ago and took it home with the ORVW 12 year old and a couple of rock and ryes I'll describe soon (including the great Jacquin's with its floating fruit and great lurid pre-Pro-looking label, wow!). Three years ago I opened it there, took one drink, then closed it and the next time it was opened was by me two days ago. When I left it there I found it thinnish and a little spirity and rough (that's why I left it - by comparison the Overholt on the market now is older I think, better structured). Well, that air space markedly improved the whiskey, and it is not my imagination. Now, the spiritiness is gone, it still tastes of youngish rye whiskey but the whiskey is soft and round, more integrated and "complete" than when I first opened it. I am (I know) not imagining this, I have a lot of experience with Overholt. I think by opening it and letting it take a gulp of the good sea air near Providence this softened it down and made it much better - three summers worked its magic. (No wonder those old stories about how a sea trip can improve barreled whiskey, I have no doubt of it).

    Gary

  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    Gary,

    Thanks for the tip! I went down there today and relieved them of the remaining stock. So, fellow bourbonians, don't make the trip, there's no payoff.

    However, the store does have a stock of hard to find Vya vermouth, both the sweet and dry versions, which I also picked up, as well as a really odd Italian vermouth called "PUNTeMES" from Carpano, which, together with the ORVW rye makes an amazing Manhattan. It's a fairly thick, sweet and bitter vermouth with very little raisin taste compared to the normal stuff (like Noilly Prat). Because of its density and bold bitterness, it doesn't seem to dilute the whiskey so much. It brings out this amazing cherry flavor with no cherry added!

    I'm considering going back there to get more of this vermouth - I think I like it even better than the Vya! If anyone can find it locally, try it out if you like good Manhattans.

    Thanks again...

    P.S. what are you doing in this neck of the woods Gary - I thought you lived much farther north??!! If you're near Boston, gimme a holller and we'll sip some bourbon...

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    Hey many thanks. Glad you got those remaining ORVW 12 year old ryes, sounds like they have a good home. And, good tips on vermouths, I'll check if we have some of the brands you mentioned in Toronto, where I live. I have relations in Providence and visit them once a year, usually in the summer. Sure maybe we can hook-up there next year. I suspect there are many smaller stores around Fall River, Providence and Bristol (or is that the dry city I was told about!?) that may have oldies but goodies, e.g, along the smaller routes, I didn't have time to visit most of them. One store that impressed with its modern selection was Towne Liquors on Newport Road, they had Stagg too (the one from last year, the 128 I think it was). The new Phillips whiskey line seems to be entering the area as well, and Bulleit was in many places. One thing I liked was the great selection of Portuguese wines and spirits in Fall River, clearly a reflection of the long-established Portuguese community there. And as I mentioned earlier rock and rye is available there (e.g., at Globe Liquors' larger outlet in Fall River). These are interesting old places and I like perambulating through them and seeing what drink and foods are traditional there. You get a sense of what the old American communities were like in the 1950's and before when you have a chaurizo omelet as I did at the great Al Mac's diner in Fall River, a genuine prewar aluminum diner. The atmosphere at Al Mac's and in these small cities is much like what Jack Kerouac evoked in his Lowell novels. May such places live forever.

    Gary

  6. #6
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    What is the source/distiller for this whiskey? Having a bit of it now from a Riedel port glass--beautiful as ever.

  7. #7
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    Jake, this has been delisted for some years. It appears it was Medley-distilled rye but no one knows for sure. I have half a bottle left. I saw 4 or 5 on a shelf in Fall River, could only bring back one to Canada, and notified the board with full details. A gent from Boston (on the board) picked up the group and good to know they are in hands that appreciate them. I am convinced this whiskey tastes better now than when first issued 10 years ago or so. It has matured beautifully (i.e., seemingly getting better in the bottle) and is one of the best, most complex American whiskies I know.

    Rog, that group you picked up from the storeroom look great, what finds! I'd love to know how e.g., the Dickel compares to the No. 8 today.

    I am still in NYC and did find a second bottle of ND Old Taylor at the store where I got the first one. I think I got the last one. When I was first there there were 4 or 5 at least on the very top shelf. I blabbed about it being likely from the original distiller and the owner's ears perked. When I got back today there was only one left. Either he brought some home for himself and/or sold some to people using the story I provided - either way, they are appreciated now so that's okay, and I got two. I'll try to save some for next Gazebo because it is really good. Although different whiskey it reminds me stylistically of the AAA 80 proof of that era, i.e., relatively low strength but full-flavoured, balanced whiskey, "luscious", that today is harder to find in that category. Yellowstone was like that too then.

    Gary

  8. #8
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    I got my two bottles recently from Martin Wine Cellar in Metairie, LA--they had a whole shelf as well. I like the VWFRR also, so no shame in delisting this bottling (although I'd like to know if they're different distiller for geeky reasons)--I'd also like to get that travel-friendly screwcap back .

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    How recently? Was this before or after the hurricane?

  10. #10
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    Re: Old Rip Van Winkle Old Time Rye 12 years Old

    About 5 months ago.

 

 

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