Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old Bourbon Review Header

Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old Bourbon Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Matt SelfLeave a Comment

“This is a once in a
lifetime offering and the beautiful decanter and wooden box just take it to the next level and make it something in which I’m very proud to be associated.”Julian Van Winkle
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Old Rip Van Winkle 25 Year Old Bourbon

  • DISTILLER: Originally distilled at Stitzel-Weller and released via the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery and bottled by Buffalo Trace
  • YIELD: 11 barrels yielding 710 handmade glass decanters from the Glencairn Crystal Studio
  • AGE: Distilled in 1989 and aged 25 Years; 1989 – 2002 aged at the Van Winkle family distillery in Shively, Ky. In 2002, barrels were moved to Buffalo Trace and aged from 2002 – 2014. Tanked in stainless steel in 2014.
  • YEAR: 2017
  • PROOF: 100 (50% ABV)
  • MSRP: $1,800
NOSE: Caramel  |  Vanilla  |  Soft Oak

TASTE: Predominant oak stands out but not overpowering as you would expect in a 25-year old bourbon.  Wheated bourbons typically age well, and this ORVW follows suit. The sweet sugars hold up and provide an excellent balance and flavor complexity to the oak forward.  The proof point is just right with this expression. It’s a straight down the middle, aged wheated bourbon that is very nice.  I expected to get smacked in the face with the oak similar to Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Whoop & Holler, but this ORVW is in a different league entirely.

FINISH: The finish on this whiskey is mid-range with very little thickness and bite – again, surprising for a bourbon aged a quarter century.

SHARE WITH: Well-heeled whiskey nerds.  At Longman & Eagle in Chicago, a 1.25-ounce pour was $250, and I elected to split that pour with a fellow Bourbon Brat.

WORTH THE PRICE: Just like Disney World, you go into it acknowledging that it is overpriced but also recognizing that you can’t buy this experience anywhere else in the world.  I love wheated bourbons. I love the Van Winkle expressions of wheated bourbons. I felt the $125 price for my 0.625 ounces was worth the experience.  If everyone buys a 1.25-ounce pour, there are only 14,200 of these pours available. Ever.  I was fortunate enough to try one of these pours.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This is not a bust.  But with only 710 bottles in the wild, this is a very special occasion bar pour.  I recommend trying this on the occasion of your very wealthy uncle’s death after the reading of the will.

OVERALL: If you don’t have a horseshoe permanently implanted in your body, this unicorn may never cross your path.  If you do have a local bar fortunate enough to land a bottle, but you don’t have the bankroll to pay for a pour, ask your bartender for a quick nose of the bottle; it’s worth a whiff for free.  I’m a fan of this pour at a bar for a reasonable price; I realize that “reasonable” is entirely subjective. However, I cannot imagine forking over $10,000 to $15,000 secondary for this (or any bottle for that matter). Yes, people, even I have limits.

Learn more about Matt’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

About the Author

Matt Self


Raised in the great state of Tennessee, Matt has a hard time admitting the native spirit of the Bluegrass neighbor to the north captured his obsession (& most of his wallet). Having progressed through the red solo cup days to a passion for a barrel-proof wheated bourbon, neat, Matt is always on the hunt for the next bottle. When he is not scouting or sipping bourbon, Matt spends time with his wife and four children. When he needs money for the next trip to Bardstown, Matt manages a wealth management firm. He always buys bourbon to drink and believes nothing should come between friends except two rocks glasses and a three-finger pour.

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