A Rare Collection of One of the World’s Most Finest Bourbon
All Van Winkle bourbons are crafted using Pappy’s original “Wheated” Recipes. Distilling with corn, barley, and wheat.
In 1893, when he was 18 years old, Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle Sr. began working as a salesman for the liquor wholesaler, W.L. Weller & Sons. Fifteen years later, he and another Weller salesman bought the firm. In 1910 they acquired the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, which had started as a sour mash whiskey distillery in 1872.
Pappy's son, Julian Jr., operated the distillery from 1964 until the family sold it in 1972. After, not one to be defeated, he got himself an office and a secretary and formed a company called J.P. Van Winkle and Son. He got into marketing bourbon through many types of commemorative decanters, some of the more popular being for universities. But he never stopped bottling on the side. He created the Old Rip Van Winkle label as a side venture in case his son, Julian III, wanted to come into the business.
Julian III took over the business in 1981 after his father passed away. He was 32 years old with a wife and four young children. The premium bourbon business was in a lull, but 90 years ago, Pappy started from the ground up, too. So, with this same, innate passion, Julian purchased the Old Hoffman Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, for barrel storage and bottling purposes. He couldn't afford much advertising, but the quality of Old Rip Van Winkle sold itself. Julian III and his impeccable palate created quite a stir.
Julian III never insisted Preston join the family business. After Preston attended the 1999 Kentucky Bourbon Festival with the entire Van Winkle family, he saw a side of bourbon he hadn't yet seen. He finished his college degree and joined his dad in the distillery in 2001, doubling the size of the sales team at The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery.
When first approached by Buffalo Trace, Julian III was honored, but not immediately interested. He had ample bourbon aging, but the concern was for future reserves, since by this time, bourbon was increasing in popularity. Buffalo Trace bought the W.L. Weller label in 1999 and had been making the bourbon with nearly the same recipe as Pappy's. The transition was easy. As of May 2002, Buffalo Trace has produced the Van Winkle bourbons, using Pappy's exact recipe. This change allows Old Rip Van Winkle to maintain their strict quality standards while producing more barrels for future enjoyment.