Bourbon Reviews:




Bottling NameVan Winkle Family Reserve Rye
Bottled ByOld Rip VanWinkle / Julian VanWinkle Lawerenceburg,KY
TypeKentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
Alcohol content95.6 Proof
Availability US: Available Japan: Unknown Duty Free: Not Available Europe: Unknown
Mashbill InfoMedley rye
Age13
Views (since 20080612) 13386
Bottling InfoThe maturity this whiskey has achieved while aging is quite obvious when you take the first sip. Flavors include cocoa, vanilla, spice, and white pepper. Rye whiskey lovers who try this bottling will never again look back at younger whiskeys.


- Paul Pacult???s Spirit Journal



Review from Bourbon Joe (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1756, Created:20091116175604) View discussion on this review.
Purchased at:Somewhere in Kentucky
Purchased for:$44.00
Info on this bottle:A Series (second time around) A-1517
Nose:The Nose - Phenomenal - Everything that should be thete IS there.
Taste:Slight sweetness on the front end, perhaps a whisp of fruit, then rye spice a plenty then dry - very dry.
Finish:Very dry finish but not in a bad way.
Overall:Great. Purported to be Cream of Kentucky - or Medley - or ???.
Who cares. Tanked at 19 y/o this is a very fine rye whiskey.

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Review from Mike (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1751, Created:20091110183911) View discussion on this review.
Purchased at:Under the table
Purchased for:$80
Info on this bottle:A2431 13 YO Family Reserve - New Bottle
Nose:Soft, deeply rye sweetly, fruity in an offhanded way. Your nose can most touch the liquid before the alcohol presents. The alcohol is overpowered by the rye, by the wood, and by the complexity of this spirit. Name (if you can) another 95 proof spirit where you search diligently for the alcohol and can find little evidence thereof. Unbelieveable!! Creme de la creme stuff.
Taste:An almost perfect marriage of rye recipe, wood, and time. Rye at its sweetest, with spice held in check by the barrel, the barrel tones tuned to perfection in terms of dryness and cognac like delicacy.
Finish:Perfection founded in moderation.
Overall:I know of no whiskey that combines its elements in a more satisfactory way. May have its equals, but has no superiors. Magical!!

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Review from Dump Bucket (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1421, Created:20090111131029, Updated:20090718013059)
Purchased at:The Sailor
Info on this bottle:Part of a 3 blind rye tasting
Nose:Rye and I think some vanilla. There are some harvest fruits like pumpkin and squash with some florals in there .Not quite like FRs, but gives me the memory of some of their ryes notes. Very pleasant. I like the nose on this one the best thus far.
Taste:Now that is nice on this tung. There are almost sweet tones to this with just a great balance of spice and alc with the rye. 15 sec or so I get a good burn coming up. The floral and vanilla tones match up well with the ryes
Finish:Rye, spice vanilla and candy sweet right up front in a race. 10-12 seconds in I get a touch of a burn that sings melodies with the other flavors in 3 part harmony. This has to be a van winkle product. Just to much balance here not to be.
Overall:Blind notes first:
This blew the doors of the other two. This is a great rye. I need to go open my Van Winkle rye up and hope it tastes like this. Yummy!!!

The balance really gave this away to me... I passed up an "A" version at Julio's last week. I may have made a mistake...

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Review from gillmang (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1332, Created:20081029184405)
Purchased at:La Fuente, Barcelona, Spain late last year
Info on this bottle:Frankfort-bottled, no letter or number in rectangle at top of label
Nose:Chestnuts, polished wood, spice, some fermented fruit (but not as much as, say, BMH 18 year old rye)
Taste:Sweet and rich, soft mouth feel, like the nose otherwise with some faint rye fusels matured to the max
Finish:Brandy-like, soft echos resolved to old liquor richness
Overall:Superb bottling. I believe this is a mingling of Medley rye and UDV-distilled Cream of Kentucky, both melded and tanked at 18 years of age. Rich seamless rye whiskey, better than the original release of this brand and it was great then. It has lost some cherry esters but gained in refinement and oak-chestnut smoothness.

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Review from gillmang (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1115, Created:20080609185714, Updated:20080610072825) View discussion on this review.
Purchased at:Spain
Purchased for:Can't recall
Info on this bottle:Sub-labelled Kentucky straight rye whiskey 1985, Frankfort bottling, Batch A 3084
Proof Of this Bottle:100
Nose:Light butterscotch, vanilla, butter, skein of acid which picks up in the taste too
Taste:Dry with a slight sweetness, no estery qualities as in its ORVW 13 year old rye brother; an undertone of varsol or chemical but in the best possible way.
Finish:Taste spreads evenly on the palate. Little char that I can detect (no charcoal decay as most straight whiskeys especially older ones). Brandy-like finish. Oddly (or not), it reminds me of Lepanto Brandy de Jerez (from Spain).
Overall:A very interesting bottle. While nominally one would think this is from the same stock that went into ORVW 13 (and Old Time 12) - just higher proof - it doesn't taste like those. It must have been chosen from one barrel or a specific batch made for this profile. But here is the thing. Of all the pre-Pro and 1930's ryes I've tasted (at Gazebo, at John's), this one reminds me most closely of those. It has that dry, sandpapery taste those did. In fact, in Jim Bready's article on Maryland rye, he gives a brief taste note, rendered by his wife, to such effect, on a bottle from about 1917: that is exactly what the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 1985 tastes like.

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Review from corvidan (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1114, Created:20080609184730)
Purchased at:Liquor Barn, Lexington, KY
Purchased for:$$$
Info on this bottle:No. F670
Nose:Caramel, honey and, yes, a hint of maple syrup
Taste:Initiially hot but quickly tranforms into an explosion of full rye grain and oak.
Finish:Moderately long and complex.
Overall:The most complex and robust rye whiskey I've experienced. The faint of heart will be tempted to water it down or mix it (God forbid), but the joy of the drink is best experienced in it's unadulterated bottled state.

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Review from Mike (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1050, Created:20080402185552, Updated:20080402190219)
Purchased at:Bootleggers house
Purchased for:trade
Nose:Overipe fruit such as peaches and tangerines along with tobacco and leather and rye that warms the nose as it goes in.
Taste:Silky smooth, thick, rich, fruity, and sweet upfront followed by a warm bite of spicy rye. Wonderful balance which makes it quite a subtle pour.
Finish:Long, warm, and inviting........you know you are drinking a fine whiskey with marvelous flavor.
Overall:Oh, bury me not on the lone prairie, where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free..........I had much druther be here sipping VW Rye than having my spirit beat about by the wind and sniffed by the coyotes.

This is a marvelous pour yall.

Me and the dog are going outside now to cut some flips........he is better at it than me, he is younger and foolish too.........I wish I had not give him any of the VW rye, I could have had that for my own self. Seems like when you get old you ort not to have to share no more..........Imo think so more on that!

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Review from bourbonv (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 958, Created:20071225082820) View discussion on this review.
Purchased at:Bardstown
Purchased for:50.00
Info on this bottle:2007 release
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:Rich caramel and vanilla with rye grass and sweet spices - cinnamon and cloves. Reminds me of a Worther's toffee candy.
Taste:Sweet caramel and molasses with some oak tannins and sweet spices. Reminds me of a molasses cookie with cinnamon and other spices.
Finish:Long and sweet with caramel and spice transmuting to a nice oak wood, tannin dryness with spicey tones.
Overall:This is a very good rye. It was tanked at 18 years old to preserve this flavor. This is from the same whiskey bought by Julian at 13 years old when the rye became a successfull brand for him. He let it get older each year until he placed in a storage tank at 18 years old to stop the aging. I think he stopped it just in time as the wood is still a pleasant flavor and not over powering and harsh.

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Review from angelshare (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 531, Created:20060701112549)
Purchased at:Montgomery Co. MD in 2005
Purchased for:$25
Info on this bottle:No. E2511
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:Strong spices and tobacco with a hint of maple syrup sweetness in the background; a nose that says "you're in for a treat!" Water brings out more of the maple syrup aroma.
Taste:Nutmeg and pepper, but a balance of sweetness and spice unparalleled by any whiskey I have had. The pepper component reminds me of the peppery quality of Henry McKenna SB or 8 yo Fighting Cock. Water opens up caramel and vanilla hiding beneath the stronger spicy flavors.
Finish:Not diluted, there is an explosion of heat that quickly fades away - not exactly like alcohol burn, but rather a spicy burn; a shadow of vanilla is left behind. After a splash of water, the heat is subdued and the vanilla more prominent. After a few minutes, though, I can still taste the spices hanging out on the sides and back of my tongue.
Overall:Quite simply, one of the best whiskies I have ever had. I'm thinking of hiring a private investigator to find the location of the VWFRR tank and visit with a siphon. Alternatively, Julian could get this distributed to VA (hint hint)!

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Review from Mike (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 520, Created:20060606141933)
Purchased at:Chuck's Bowling Green KY
Purchased for:$39.99
Nose:Nuts and leather come first, followed by wild flowers and dried fruit......apricot being predominate. Not going unoticed is the warm rye and the oak. An excellent nose.
Taste:The taste is a bit surprising. It bursts into the mouth with rye spice, fruit, and pepper with some oak thrown in. Assertive flavors, but not overly so because this whiskey is well balanced in its sweetness, spice, and alcohol.
Finish:A moderate finish with the pepper and spice creeping out slowly. A shade of the sweetness in the midst of the dryness remains to draw you back.
Overall:An excellent whiskey by my lights. A wonderful and deceptive simplicity is achieved through balance. You want to come back to prove yet again that the Van Winkles know how to make whiskey!

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Review from bourbonv (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 289, Created:20051002152915)
Purchased at:Oscar Getz Auction the first year the rye came on the market
Info on this bottle:Bottle No. A3881
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:Honey and wild flowers with a little vanilla and dill spice. Old leather and tobacco are hiding in the background.
Taste:Rye grain and spice - pepper and dill lead off in this product but are quickly followed by some sweet caramel toffee with leather and tobacco bringing up the rear as the product starts its finish.
Finish:Dry oak wood that is slightly astringent from tannins dominate this finish. It is suprisingly clean and crisp with only a sweet memory of the whiskey left after a minute or so, but that memory last for several more minutes.
Overall:A very good product totally different from the other Van Winkle products. This product proves that Julian Van Winkle is a good judge of all whiskeys, not just wheated bourbons.

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Review from Blue (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 188)
Purchased at:Gift
Purchased for:N/A
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:Strong notes of tobacco and leather with an undertone of spice.
Taste:The initial palate is distinctively tobacco and leather. The front fades to an earthy pepper flavor in the mid-palate trailing to a clear white pepper taste. A hot burst of alcohol finishes it up.
Finish:The finish is mainly ethanol with hints of spice and pepper. It was just the right length.
Overall:This reminded me a lot of the Hirsh rye. Simply a classic rye that was all performance with no extra bells or whistles. All in all, a fine gift to have received.

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