At 18 years old in 1963, Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr. (that’s a mouthful) began working for a liquor wholesaler. Later, he and a sales partner bought the Stitzel Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky...
During prohibition, they had a deal with the US government to keep producing whiskey for "medicinal purposes". After they survived prohibition, bourbon had a major down-tick in popularity that nearly killed off the company. They were forced to sell the distillery. However, they continued buying back barrels and bottling them under their their “Old Rip Van Winkle” label. (haven’t pitched this to Ben yet, but we are thinking about releasing a Freshly Squeezed bourbon called “Young Rip Gilly Gilligan”—let me know what you think).
Eventually, the label was handed down to Julian the 3rd, who had the goal of reviving the business. First, he purchased a new distillery for bottling and barrel storage purposes. Later, the Van Winkles partnered with Buffalo Trace distillery, and started making bourbon using the old family recipe that included mash instead of rye (which made the bourbon smoother).
But it wasn’t just the family recipe that led to the eventual success of the bourbon. Don’t sleep on Julian the 3rd. His palette gave him the ability to taste and notice the smallest of details. This allowed him to curate the perfect bourbon. They called the line Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve. It was made up of three products: bourbon aged 15, 20, and 23 years. Because of the long time it takes to distill and how little of it they make each year, it has become a hot commodity.
Here’s some cool stuff about Pappy that you can drop casually in conversations at cocktail parties:
**Here's a few more resources: their website, and this article.
**Read more FS Stories here.
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