Jon Barleycorn wrote:...For the record, my favorite bourbon so far is the Van Winkle 10 year old - it's especially luscious while still being affordable. I'm open to suggestions of other brands, especially if they're not too hard on the wallet.
You might look at this thread:
http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopi ... 6351#76351
Regarding Van Winkle 10yo (either the 90- or 107-proof), it's an interesting preference because you can't get it anymore, or you soon won't be able to get it as it is, or you'll eventually get it as something else. Confused?
Julian Van Winkle (who does not distill) started the Old Rip Van Winkle brand with purchased barrels of bourbon distilled at the defunct Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which was long owned by his family and famous grandfather, Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle. It stopped distilling in 1992. As Julian's youngest S-W whiskey passed first 10 years old, then 12, etc., he replaced it in the younger bottlings in order to let it age for his older Pappy Van Winkle brands (15-, 20- and 23-year-olds), while also joining with Buffalo Trace Distillery in agreement to distill his wheated bourbon for future years.
But, BT did not, at that time, have any 10yo wheated bourbon, so Julian now uses Bernheim-distilled wheat in his 10yo ORVWs and 12yo Special Reserve Lot B. In fact, the most recent Pappy 15yo bottling consists of mostly Stitzel-Weller, but with some Bernheim wheated bourbon blended in.
However, Diageo sold the Bernheim distillery to Heaven Hill in 1999. Although HH does distill wheated bourbon (ironically, they now own the old S-W brand, Old Fitzgerald, which made Pappy famous) and its unique Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey, they don't distill anything that matches Julian's taste profiles. So, when he runs out of S-W and old Bernheim, he's going to be using Buffalo Trace wheated bourbon -- the third distillery's product in that label.
The good news is, Julian is a wonderful whiskey-picker, so the quality will remain high in any case.