Van Winkle 1974 Family Reserve 17 Year Old
An incredibly rare offering from the Van Winkle family reserve. This was bottled in 1991 by Julien Van Winkle III. His father, Julian II had retained an office at the old Stitzel-Weller distillery following his forced sale of it in the 1970's, but this hospitality was not extended to his son, who had to buy Hoffman distillery in 1983, re-naming it Old Commonwealth. There he bottled much of the best-regarded whiskey in America, including Nathan Stone's, Very Olde St. Nick, the A.H. Hirsch Reserve, and this, the Van Winkle Family Reserve.
It is believed this Van Winkle family reserve bourbon was sourced from Boone distillery, where it was barrelled in 1974. It was bottled twice, this one in 1991, and first at 16 years old in 1990. Both were intended for the Japanese market who were at the time more willing to pay premium prices for well-aged bourbon.
Van Winkle III continued to bottle at Old Commonwealth until 2002, when thinning stocks necessitated an agreement with the Sazerac company, who warehoused his remaining barrels, and produced limited quantities of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve on an annual basis until it finally ran out. It is now distilled at Buffalo Trace using Pappy's old recipe.
These original bottles of Boone distilled Van Winkle reserves are incredibly rare and sought after in equal measure.
Fun fact: Van Winkle has stated that he "got away" with using red wax here as Maker's Mark only held the trademark in the US.