Van Winkle Selection 16 Year Old Lot H / Signed by Julian Van Winkle III
An incredibly rare offering from the Van Winkle family reserve. This was bottled in the early 1990s by Julian 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 1970s, 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 Selection.
There is a bounty of speculation as to the source of the bourbon in this bottle. Van Winkle has confirmed that a 17 year old Van Winkle, bottled for the Japanese market as this was, was distilled at Boone County distillery. It is likely that this was produced from the same batch of barrels the following year (which would be 1992). Another intriguing theory is predicated on the similarity between this and the famous A.H. Hirsch Reserve bottlings that Van Winkle produced at Old Commonwealth. The Hirsch Reserve, distilled at Pennco (a.k.a. Michter's) was tanked by its owner Gordon Hue at 16 years old, so although older expressions exist, this was the most plentiful and could have been bottled at that age any time in the early 1990s. To fuel the fire, Van Winkle did, at Hue's request, bottle the A.H. Hirsch Reserve bourbon under several other brands, including Colonel Randolph, Old Gromes and Boones Knoll. It is unclear if Van Winkle was ever permitted to bottle any of the stock for his own label, and for that reason the Boone County provenance is more likely. One can always wonder if "Lot H" was a not so subtle hint though...
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.
This bottle was personally signed by Julian Van Winkle III.