TransplantedTexan has asked about Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbons... well... buckle up kids... because we're about to leave the reservation.
Now... as a Makers guy... many rightly conclude that I am therefore a fan of wheat bourbon. This isn't actually true. Or at least... its not true in the sense that it is universally consistent. Makers is a wheat bourbon and I do like Makers better than many non-wheat bourbons. But that doesn't mean I favor wheat bourbons over Rye bourbons all the time. For example... does anyone think that I really prefer Makers Mark to Bookers? Madness. So... its more than just the theological differences of wheat vs rye.
I say all of that... to say...
I just don't believe the hype. I know... I know... I am supposed to be waving the Pappy Van Winkle Flag around... and gesticulating like a hillbilly preacher that lost his snake. I just can't. Look I know what the guys at Wild Turkey have to go through to age a bourbon 15 years and get a good product out of it. I also know what happens when you don't take that much care. The result is utter swill. See Eligah Craig for details.
Some of you probably know about the Sour Mash Manifesto. I'm not having a pissing contest with the guy here. I'm just saying... if you agree with him that Elijah Craig is excellent... well then you an I just live on different planets. We'll keep the good bourbon over here... and y'all can lick the windows of the short bus on the way to Canada... or some other place where they put pesticide in whiskey bottles.
So... because I just don't believe the hype... I've never bothered to buy any Van Winkle anything. Kentucky is not Scotland folks. Kentucky is 103 degrees in the summer and - 5 degrees in the winter. Bourbon ages more in 1 year in Kentucky than it does in 5 years in Scotland or Canada. A 20 year old bourbon is something a kin to a 100 year old scotch. But because so much is going on in that aging... it is extremely labor intensive and a minor screw up ends up in a pretty epic clusterfutastrophe. Though I don't suppose there are many non-epic clusterfutastrophes... in fact I am fairly certain I coined the term so I could stop using the word epic so much...
That said... Wild Turkey has proven that you can... with an insane amount of work and OCD levels of dedication make a 15 or even 20 year bourbon work. So... I suppose I will have to give Old Rip a chance.
I am gonna try old rip 15 and Pappy... which is 20... and I'm going to be stacking them up against Bookers, and Kentucky Spirit.
I'll be honest. I wouldn't bet on Old Rip.
We'll see. It should make a helluva ATF post anyway.
Happy Fat Tuesday Y'all
It occurs to me that there is another bit of psychology going on here that has also made me a little prejudiced against Old Rip. Ever had a cuban cigar? Everyone says cuban cigars are the best. Well I've had plenty and honestly... they aren't on average better Dominican or Nicaraguan cigars. In fact plenty of them really suck. But see... they're cuban and we can't have them. So there is a built in mysticism about them created by the unquenched demand. Same deal with Old Rip. Supply is extremely low. You can't go into a liquor store and buy Van Winkle products. They just aren't there. Consequently... people start imagining how good it must be if you can never get your hands on it. So... I reckon that's the other reason I don't believe the hype. As for the tasting? Probably gonna have to wait till April. That's when the stores around here say they will get their one annual shipment.