When talking to Eben Freeman last February in Fatty Johnson's about the merits of the Van Winkle family of bourbons, he asked me if I had tried the Van Winkle 13 rye. He said it was the most amazing rye he had tried and worth getting, if one could locate a bottle. I had not heard of it, but from that point on I was determined to find a bottle.
All of the Van Winkle products are wheat formula bourbons with the exception of the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Whiskey. Most rye whiskeys are aged around four years. Van Winkle has aged this expression an astounding 13 years. (They even offer a 15yo!)
There are shades of gray. To rank bottles according to my own standards seems a worthy effort for this forum. I looked around and decided that a 25 x 4 scoring system seemed to best suit me. So each of these four categories will be worth 25 points and I will assign each bottle a two-digit score.
It's also only fair that I recommend a recipe too, hope you enjoy the format.
|Tasting based on lot No. B913, made for the UK market.
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13
Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
SCORE: 96 points
NOSE: Sweet with fruit, raisins, a little toffee and maybe a slight citrus note. Nice wood and spicy rye notes as well. Big and heady, possibly a hint of mint or menthol on the finish. As aromatic as a rye gets, 24/25.
PALATE: Oily, smooth and slippery in the mouth. Deep and big with flavors of fig, cherry, cooked fruit, at first until the nose kicks those big rye and wood flavors over the top. Rich, creamy, excellent balance. Considering its very high ABV of 47.8%, extremely smooth and drinkable. 24/25
BALANCE: Amazing, absolutely in a class of its own. Though my expectations for this bottle were through the roof, I was amazed to find them satisfied if not exceeded. A benchmark rye in terms of taste, character and balance. As perfect a rye as I have ever come across. 24/25