Price Point: $80-$90 for 750 ML
Distiller: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery
The Van Winkle name carries a lot of weight in the whiskey world. With a relatively small portfolio of highly sought-after whiskeys, this distillery has proven that many bourbon lovers prefer quality over quantity.
Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old is one of those coveted whiskeys. I received my bottle from my father as a gift; one that I was hesitant to accept as I knew this was a special bourbon. It’s been one of those rare bottles in my collection that I just can’t seem to finish all the way (see the picture above for proof). But, as any great whiskey aficionado will tell you, whiskey is meant to be drunk. And for this review, I will be finishing the last bit of liquid from this bottle once and for all.
Van Winkle’s aroma immediately tells you it is a premium bourbon. It stings the nostrils, as Ron Burgundy would say. But it also hints to the wonderful flavors the taster will experience in the coming moments.
The taste of this whiskey is inviting to the experienced whiskey drinker, and aggressive to the inexperienced. With a proof of 90.4, Van Winkle has a bit of a bite to it. Compared to your everyday bourbon like Benchmark or Evan Williams, this bourbon is much heavier both in viscosity and flavor. Van Winkle will taste very sweet, with a large emphasis on vanilla.
The aftertaste will stay with you to remind you of the brilliance you just experienced.
Rating & Recommendations
Van Winkle 12 Year Old is definitely a whiskey worth trying, if you can get your hands on it. I rate it a 91 out of 100 for its superior quality and taste.
Because this is such a premium bourbon, I would recommend drinking Van Winkle neat or with one or two cubes of ice. No reason to water down a whiskey like this. And absolutely no reason to ever poison this bourbon with any kind of mixer.
This is certainly one of those rare whiskeys to enjoy during a special occasion. It’s a wonderful bourbon, but shouldn’t be abused. It should be cherished because “60% of the time, it works every time.”