I found this post somewhere on another site. Any truth to it?
If so, my bottle has an 'H' and then a 4 digit number.
"The original Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 year old rye was released as such in bottles labeled with a number and followed by the letter "A." In subsequent years, as the whiskey was allowed to continue aging, it was released with the letters "B" and so forth. It eventually came to pass that the aging process was arrested at 19 years old, it was combined with another rye whiskey of the same age, and is still being released under the name Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 year old rye. The letter under which this, the "final release" began was, if memory serves me correctly, the letter "F."
Prior to the letter "F", this would have been the original Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 year old rye, released under the same label, but in fact aging to about 18 years or so in the process. From what I understand, this has to do with having to register new labels for each state, pay each state's licensing fees, etc., so why print new labels and go through all that expense and hassle every year?
I further understand that the proprietors of the label Van Winkle have begun processing of a new rye whiskey to be released under this mark when it reaches 13 years old, in order to have a steady supply of whiskey to be available for this label to remain part of the Van Winkle product stable.
So, the "final release" of the Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 year old rye was a different animal indeed, from the original whiskey selected to bear that name, which is why the same label, albeit two different whiskeys, occupy my Top Ten Rye list. "