Friday, February 22, 2013

Old Rip Van Winkle Combines Releases

So there I am, minding my own business, playing Minecraft, when a friend logs on and drops some knowledge. This knowledge:
We had been speculating about what was going to happen for some time now. He had said that there was a possibility that there would be a condensing of Van Winkle releases or they might not even do a spring release. Normally, I'm relatively unfazed by this as I can't afford any Van Winkle stuff. It's extremely hard to find and if you can find it, it's expensive and/or got a rarity premium on it. And for someone who's on unemployment...that's a no-brainer in the no-buy area. However, as of late its been something of an intrigue for me at this point. With the reopening of the Stitzel-Weller distillery by another company...I'm rather fascinated by this decision. Do I think it will mean more Pappy for the US?

No, no I don't.

You have to understand that the Van Winkle family has been blending their bourbon with stock from Buffalo Trace for a bit now. The fact of the matter is is...well...there's only so much Stitzel-Weller juice to go around. More can't magically appear. I'm VERY sure there's no hidden barrels of Pappy lying around because they've probably got a private detective PLATOON on the case looking for anything and everything that they can bottle from the old distillery. No, I don't think it will mean that there will be more Pappy.

I actually think there'll be less.

One of the funny things about delaying or combining releases is that it's rarely because there's MORE coming out that they're waiting on. It usually means that they're waiting for LESS to be ready. I think that we'll see larger bursts of Pappy...more cases going out at a time than usual...but less OVERALL. This collapsing of the releases means that they can sit around and wait a year in-between releases to keep an eye on the barrels, as opposed to every six months. Six months in Kentucky heat can do wonders...but a year can do even more. Barrels that might not be "ready" yet (I say this loosely as you're talking about extremely old whiskey as it is) can get the benefit of a bit more time to mature and, say, gain a bit more blending edge for mixing with Buffalo Trace stock. Enough to replicate the Stitzel-Weller character when cut with Buffalo Trace 15, 20, or 23 year old bourbon. To me, this is a sign that the Pappy line will be changing and probably soon. Maybe within the next three years. I'm not sure if they can hold out on that flavor profile with the dwindling reserves of Stitzel-Weller.

But that's just a young, naive man's thoughts.

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