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  1. #1
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    Chatting with Julian Van Winkle

    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

  2. #2
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    Hirsch 16 Reserve available

    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


  3. #3
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    Re: Hirsch 16 Reserve available

    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



  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
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    Chicago
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    Re: Hirsch 16 Reserve available

    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


  5. #5
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    Re: Hirsch 16 Reserve available

    > 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

  6. #6
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    265

    Re: Hirsch 16 Reserve available

    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


  7. #7
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    Re: Hirsch 16 Reserve available

    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

  8. #8
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    Re: Hirsch 16 Reserve available

    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

  9. #9
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    Re: Chatting with Julian Van Winkle

    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



  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
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    Chicago
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    12,375

    Re: Chatting with Julian Van Winkle

    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


 

 

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