Rip Van Winkle Bourbon Review

rip van winkle bourbon review

If you’re a whiskey fan, you’ve likely heard of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon, a highly-regarded brand that has garnered immense popularity and praise from enthusiasts worldwide. In this comprehensive review, we’ll explore the unique characteristics and flavor profile of this exceptional bourbon, as well as its rich history and production process.

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is a wheated bourbon produced at Buffalo Trace Distillery, known for its smooth and velvety taste. What makes it stand out from other bourbons is its lengthy aging process, which takes place in charred new oak barrels. The result is a bourbon that boasts a rich and complex flavor profile.

Key Takeaways

  • Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is a highly-regarded brand among whiskey enthusiasts.
  • It is a wheated bourbon produced at Buffalo Trace Distillery.
  • The lengthy aging process in charred new oak barrels gives it a rich and complex flavor profile.
  • Its popularity has made it a unicorn bottle and impacted its availability and pricing.
  • Our review will delve into the history, tasting notes, distillery, and much more!

The History of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon has a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century. The Van Winkle family, who has played a significant role in the bourbon industry, first began producing whiskey in 1893.

Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr., who started working in the whiskey business at the age of 18, eventually became the president of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Kentucky. He acquired the rights to the Old Fitzgerald brand in the 1950s and introduced the first Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon in the 1970s.

After Pappy’s passing, his son Julian Van Winkle III continued the family legacy and established the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery in 1980. The distillery was later sold to the Sazerac Company and is now produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

The Van Winkle Family and Bourbon Culture

The Van Winkle family has had a significant impact on the bourbon industry, not just through their production of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon but also through their commitment to preserving bourbon culture. Julian Van Winkle III was one of the founding members of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and served as its chairman for over a decade. He has also been an advocate for the protection of bourbon as a distinctive product of the United States.

“Bourbon is not just another product; it is a part of our country’s history, culture, and heritage. It is a uniquely American product, and we need to do everything we can to protect it.” – Julian Van Winkle III

Tasting Notes and Flavor Profile

When it comes to Rip Van Winkle Bourbon, the tasting experience is truly special. This bourbon offers a unique flavor profile that is characterized by its sweetnesscaramel notes, and fruity undertones. These flavors come together in perfect harmony, creating a complex and delightful drinking experience.

On the palate, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is smooth and rich, with a mouthfeel that is both creamy and full-bodied. The initial taste is sweet, with notes of caramel and honey that give way to a subtle fruitiness that lingers on the tongue.

The finish of this bourbon is long and warming, with a gentle spiciness that adds depth to the overall flavor profile. It leaves a pleasant aftertaste that invites you to take another sip.

The sweetness of caramel and honey is followed by a subtle fruitiness that lingers on the tongue, creating a memorable and delightful experience.

The Perfect Pairings

Due to its flavor profile, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon pairs exceptionally well with a variety of foods, including grilled meats, smoked dishes, and chocolate desserts. Its sweetness and caramel notes complement the richness of these dishes, while its fruity undertones provide a refreshing contrast that cuts through the richness.

For a classic pairing, try Rip Van Winkle Bourbon with a perfectly cooked steak or a grilled pork chop. The sweetness of the bourbon will balance the saltiness of the meat, while the fruitiness will offer a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the dish.

Comparing Rip Van Winkle Bourbon with Other Bourbons

Rip Van Winkle BourbonOther Bourbons
PalateSmooth and rich, with a creamy mouthfeel.Varies depending on the type and age of the bourbon.
SweetnessProminent, with notes of caramel and honey.Varies depending on the type and age of the bourbon. Some bourbons may be more spicy or smoky than sweet.
Fruity NotesSubtle, with a gentle fruitiness that lingers on the tongue.Varies depending on the type and age of the bourbon. Some bourbons may have more pronounced fruit flavors, while others may not have any at all.
FinishLong and warming, with a gentle spiciness.Varies depending on the type and age of the bourbon. Some bourbons may have a shorter or longer finish, with more or less spice.

When compared to other bourbons, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon stands out for its smoothness, sweetness, and subtle fruitiness. While other bourbons may offer more pronounced flavors or a different mouthfeel, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon delivers a truly unique tasting experience that is in a league of its own.

  • Rip Van Winkle Bourbon Tasting Notes: Sweetness, caramel, fruitiness, smoothness, creaminess, gentle spiciness.
  • Palate: Smooth and rich, with a creamy mouthfeel.
  • Finish: Long and warming, with a gentle spiciness.
  • Pairings: Grilled meats, smoked dishes, and chocolate desserts.

Distillery and Production Process

If you’re a whiskey enthusiast, you may have heard of Buffalo Trace Distillery, the home of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon. Established in 1773, this historic distillery is located in Frankfort, Kentucky, and is renowned for its exceptional bourbon and whiskey.

One of the things that sets Rip Van Winkle Bourbon apart from other bourbons is its use of wheat in the mashbill. While most bourbons use rye as the secondary grain in their mashbill, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon uses wheat instead, resulting in a softer, smoother taste. This type of bourbon is commonly known as a “wheated bourbon,” and it has become a hallmark of the Van Winkle line.

The mashbill for Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is 75% corn, 15% wheat, and 10% malted barley. This unique combination gives the bourbon its signature flavor profile and contributes to its smoothness. The distillery uses a traditional sour mash process, which allows them to control the pH levels during fermentation and create a consistent flavor.

The bourbon is aged in new, charred oak barrels, which contribute to its rich color and complex flavors. Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is aged for a minimum of 10 years, with some expressions aging up to 23 years. This extended aging process allows the flavors to develop and mature, resulting in a smooth and complex bourbon.

The Craftsmanship Behind Rip Van Winkle Bourbon

“We put a lot of care and attention into making each bottle of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon. It’s a labor of love, and we’re proud of the craftsmanship that goes into every step of the process.” – Buffalo Trace Distillery

The team at Buffalo Trace Distillery takes great pride in their work and the bourbon they produce. From the unique mashbill to the extended aging process, every step of the production process is carefully monitored and executed with precision. This commitment to craftsmanship is evident in the exceptional quality of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon.

The Legacy of Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery has a rich history in the bourbon industry, and their commitment to quality and craftsmanship has earned them a reputation as one of the best distilleries in the world. Their portfolio includes a range of award-winning bourbons and whiskeys, including the highly sought-after Pappy Van Winkle line.

Overall, the distillery’s careful attention to detail and exceptional craftsmanship are what make Rip Van Winkle Bourbon stand out in the world of whiskey. Whether you’re a bourbon connoisseur or a newcomer to the world of whiskey, this wheated bourbon is definitely worth trying.

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon Ratings and Awards

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is not just popular amongst whiskey enthusiasts but has also received critical acclaim from experts and critics worldwide.

“Rip Van Winkle is the Pappy Van Winkle line’s prized possession, and you can see why with the 15-year-old expression.” – Forbes

In Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2021, Rip Van Winkle 10-Year-Old received a whopping 91/100 rating for its rich and complex flavor profile.

The Van Winkle line has received numerous awards, and its 20-Year-Old expression was named the Best Bourbon at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Double Gold Medal2020Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-Year-Old
Best Bourbon2019Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13-Year-Old
Bourbon of the Year2017Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-Year-Old

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is undoubtedly one of the best bourbons available today, with a consistent track record of excellence and unmatched flavor profiles.

The Van Winkle Line: Exploring the Range

The Van Winkle Line of bourbons is highly sought after by whiskey enthusiasts, and for good reason. Each expression is crafted with care and attention to detail, resulting in a unique and memorable tasting experience.

Van Winkle 10 Year Bourbon

The Van Winkle 10 Year Bourbon is a classic among the line, with a smooth and well-balanced flavor profile. It has notes of caramel and vanilla, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a sweeter bourbon.

Van Winkle 12 Year Bourbon

The Van Winkle 12 Year Bourbon is a step up from the 10 Year, with a more complex and layered flavor profile. It has notes of fruit and spice, with a finish that lingers on the palate.

Van Winkle 15 Year Bourbon

The Van Winkle 15 Year Bourbon is a highly-regarded expression that has won numerous awards. It has a rich and full-bodied flavor, with notes of oak and leather, making it a great choice for those who appreciate a more robust bourbon.

Van Winkle 20 Year Bourbon

The Van Winkle 20 Year Bourbon is a rare and exceptional expression that is highly sought-after by collectors. It has a nuanced and complex flavor profile, with notes of dark fruit, cocoa, and vanilla.

Van Winkle 23 Year Bourbon

The Van Winkle 23 Year Bourbon is the oldest expression in the line, with a rich and decadent flavor profile. It has notes of toffee, caramel, and oak, making it a fitting choice for special occasions or as a gift for a true whiskey connoisseur.

Overall, the Van Winkle Line offers a diverse range of flavors and characteristics that cater to a variety of taste preferences. Each expression is a testament to the Van Winkle family’s dedication to quality and craftsmanship, making them exceptional choices for any whiskey lover’s collection.

Availability and Pricing

If you’re looking to purchase a bottle of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon, you’ll need to do some hunting. Due to its limited production and high demand, this bourbon can be hard to find on store shelves.

The retail price of a bottle of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon varies depending on the age and rarity of the expression. The recommended retail price (MSRP) for the 10-year-old bourbon is $69.99, while the 23-year-old expression has an MSRP of $2,199.99. However, as with any sought-after product, the secondary market can drive up the price considerably.

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon AgeRetail Price (MSRP)

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery, which also produces other highly regarded bourbons such as Pappy Van Winkle and the Antique Collection.

Your best bet for finding a bottle of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is to check with your local liquor store or visit the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Keep in mind that quantities are limited, so availability can be limited and sporadic.

The Hype Surrounding Rip Van Winkle Bourbon

It’s no secret that the hype surrounding Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is real. But, is it worth the buzz?

Bourbon lovers across the globe eagerly await the yearly release of this limited-edition whiskey, which sells out almost instantly. But what makes it so special?

Expert Rip Van Winkle Bourbon reviews consistently praise its exceptional quality, unique flavor profile, and smooth finish. The rarity of the whiskey and the Van Winkle family’s legacy in the bourbon industry only add to the hype.

But with a hefty retail price and limited availability, is it worth the investment?

“It’s like tasting liquid gold,” raves one bourbon lover.

While opinions vary, most agree that Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is a rare gem worth the splurge for a special occasion or a once-in-a-lifetime tasting experience.

However, with the secondary market driving up prices even higher, the bourbon may not be accessible for everyone. It’s important to consider the value and worth of the whiskey as a personal decision based on your budget and tastes.

One thing is for sure: the hype surrounding Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is not just a passing trend. It is a testament to the passion and dedication of the Van Winkle family and the bourbon culture they helped to shape.


After exploring the unique characteristics of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon, it’s clear why it has become such a highly sought-after bottle for whiskey enthusiasts. From its rich history and exceptional flavor profile to its unique production process and awards, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon lives up to the hype that surrounds it.

Whether sipping it straight or mixing it into a cocktail, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon offers a delightful tasting experience that is sure to please even the most discerning palate. It’s the perfect complement to any special occasion or simply a great way to unwind after a long day.

The Final Verdict

Our expert review of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon concludes that this bottle is worth the investment. While it may be difficult to get your hands on a bottle due to its limited supply and high demand, it’s definitely worth the effort. With its exceptional quality and unique flavor profile, Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is a standout among its peers in the bourbon industry.

We highly recommend giving Rip Van Winkle Bourbon a try if you’re looking for a special bottle to add to your collection or enjoy on special occasions. Cheers to the Van Winkle family and their legacy in the bourbon industry!


Is Rip Van Winkle Bourbon worth the hype?

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon has gained a cult following and is highly regarded by bourbon enthusiasts. Its exceptional quality and unique flavor profile make it a standout choice for those seeking an exceptional tasting experience.

What is the history behind Rip Van Winkle Bourbon?

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is steeped in history, with the Van Winkle family playing a crucial role in its development. The brand has become synonymous with quality and craftsmanship, making it a beloved choice among bourbon enthusiasts.

What are the tasting notes of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon?

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon offers a delightful flavor profile, characterized by notes of sweetness, caramel, and fruity undertones. These flavors harmonize on the palate to create a memorable and enjoyable tasting experience.

How is Rip Van Winkle Bourbon produced?

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is crafted at the renowned Buffalo Trace Distillery. It stands out from other bourbons due to its wheated mashbill, which contributes to its distinctive flavor profile. Every bottle is made with careful craftsmanship and attention to detail.

What awards has Rip Van Winkle Bourbon received?

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon has garnered numerous accolades and ratings from experts and enthusiasts. It consistently ranks among the best bourbons available, solidifying its reputation as a top-quality spirit.

What is the range of Van Winkle bourbons available?

The Van Winkle line offers a range of expressions, including the highly sought-after 10-year, 12-year, 15-year, 20-year, and 23-year versions. Each bottle has its own unique characteristics, providing options for whiskey lovers with varying preferences.

How can I find Rip Van Winkle Bourbon and what is the pricing like?

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon is known for its limited availability, making it a challenging bottle to find. Pricing can vary due to its high demand and limited supply, with some bottles even reaching the secondary market. It is best to check with local retailers or liquor stores for availability and pricing information.

Why is there so much hype surrounding Rip Van Winkle Bourbon?

Rip Van Winkle Bourbon has generated a frenzy among bourbon enthusiasts due to its exceptional quality and limited supply. It has become a unicorn bottle, with bourbon lovers eagerly seeking it out to experience its renowned taste and reputation.

What is the conclusion of the Rip Van Winkle Bourbon review?

In conclusion, our review showcases the outstanding quality and flavor profile of Rip Van Winkle Bourbon. It is a highly sought-after bourbon that offers a memorable and delightful tasting experience, making it a worthy choice for both connoisseurs and newcomers to the world of whiskey.

Check out some other posts...
Scroll to Top