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The only rye whiskey in the esteemed Van Winkle family of American whiskies, this bottling is one of the oldest ryes available today. Produced by the Buffalo Trace distillery, and made with a mashbill of at least 51% spicy rye grain, Van Winkle Family Reserve has aged for 13 years in the finest casks and best locations in the distillery’s rickhouses. The final product is a remarkable whiskey, with heaps of spicy rye character and complexity.
Frankfort, Kentucky, USA
Van Winkle whiskies are mostly known for being “wheaters” – Bourbons that use wheat, rather than rye, as the flavouring grain, meaning that the spirit is sweeter and less spicy. This bottling, however, is firmly a rye whiskey – offering all the powerful spice flavours we associate with this style.
For many drinkers, including some on the Whisky Loot team, this is the “Dark Horse” of the Van Winkle series, up there with the older and more expensive Pappy Van Winkle bottlings. The use of a rye base adds another dimension to Van Winkle’s hallmark depth and complexity.
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Surprisingly nutty at first, with fragrant toasted chestnuts, brazil nuts and hazelnuts, soon followed by a deep oaky aroma, caramelised apples and ground cinnamon.
Spicier here, with nutmeg, cinnamon and cracked black pepper taking the fore. Some prunes and sultanas emerge, with a thick vanilla-caramel and sweet oak profile.
Long and full, with lingering flavours of charred oak, menthol, vanilla custard, red apple lollies and spiced pastry.