Monday, October 26, 2009

How Much for Stitzel-Weller Whiskey? How about $350?

If you are looking to spend about $350 on a special gift for a bourbon enthusiast, here’s a suggestion: a very limited Old Rip Van Winkle Family Selection 23 year-old bourbon in an engraved and numbered decanter from Glencairn Crystal of Scotland

Although the press release doesn’t say so, the whiskey was distilled at the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery. It aged there initially, then was transferred to Buffalo Trace to finish aging there. It is wheated bourbon, of course.

Julian and Preston Van Winkle personally selected the barrels to be dumped for this bottling. The bourbon is not chill-filtered, leaving all of the flavor and complexity intact. It is bottled at 114° proof, which was the original barrel entry proof.

"This is some of our best whiskey," commented Julian Van Winkle. "I’m thrilled to offer this new expression of Old Rip. Hopefully, whiskey aficionados will appreciate the rich taste of this bourbon as much as I do."

Only 1,200 decanters were produced. The set comes in a solid wood, leather-lined box and includes a crystal stopper and two crystal glasses.

Look for it in stores late November. If you are interested, don't wait for it simply to appear. Talk to your whiskey monger now. For more information go to

It may seem like there is a lot of Stitzel-Weller whiskey turning up lately, but there is very little left, and none of it will be sold cheap. These days, the only way to get Stitzel-Weller whiskey cheap is to go dusty hunting.

It also should be noted that not all Stitzel-Weller whiskey is created equal, although it ranges from merely great to stupendous. Selections made by Julian and Preston usually lean toward the stupendous. If you are looking for something a bit more affordable, their Family Reserve 12-year-old, known as Lot B by enthusiasts, can be had for about $45.

Stitzel-Weller was the distillery put together after Prohibition by Julian Van Winkle's grandfather, best known as Pappy. Stitzel-Weller made wheated bourbon long before Maker's Mark did. The family sold the distillery in 1972 and it stopped producing in 1992. It is now owned by Diageo, which uses the warehouses and some of the other facilities. It is located in the Louisville suburb of Shively. The Van Winkles, Julian and son Preston, are presently affiliated with Buffalo Trace.


sku said...

Chuck, thanks for the info. I hadn't see anyone confirm that this would indeed be SW whiskey. Is there any significance to it being marketed as ORVW instead of PVW Family Reserve, as the other older Van Winkles are?

Chuck Cowdery said...

I wondered about that too. According to Preston Van Winkle, they decided to use the name of the company and the original brand name the Van Winkles started with post Stitzel-Weller. Some families sold their name along with their distillery, but the Van Winkles didn't.