Review: Old Rip Van Winkle

This is it… My very first blog on this brand-new website of mine. Long was I debating what I should kick things off with. Should I start with some of the basics? Or perhaps follow my truest passion, and kick things off with a “drambling” of mine? But I decided to start it off with some tasting notes. Because as it often goes in life, the best things come to you by surprise. And so did the subject for my first blog.

Now the whisky in question didn’t exactly come to me, I simply went out myself and got it in a bar. But the reason I knew where to go did come to me by chance. It was a post I came across on Reddit, that stated a small cocktail bar in Amsterdam sold Old Rip Van Winkle for 25 euro a pour (which translates to roughly 20 pounds or 27 dollars in the current market).

As I live near the Dutch capital, I immediately rushed to my fiancée to propose a night out on the town. Unfortunately, fate struck. We started getting a cold, which turned out to be Covid in disguise. So, the plan had to wait a few weeks… and I had to hope my taste buds and smell wouldn’t be too badly affected. Thankfully, they did not. And so, last weekend, the two of us went out for a night on the town. Luckily, bourbon not being as big over here as opposed to in the States, there was still plenty left.

Tasting Notes: Old Rip Van Winkle 10-year-old

Stats:

ABV : 53,5% (107 Proof)

Age : 10 years old

Distillery : Buffalo Trace, Kentucky

Owned by : Sazerac Company

Category : Bourbon

Awards : 2013 Gold Medal – International Review of Spirits Award (BTI)

Chill Filtered : No

Natural Colour : Yes

Setting:

Enjoyed neat, in a Glencairn. In a crowded cocktail bar, on a Saturday night, in the city centre of Amsterdam. In the good company of my lovely fiancée.

Nose:

Even though a crowded bar might not be the best place for nosing a whisky, thankfully the Old Rip Van Winkle didn’t make it very hard on me. Immediately the smells popped out of the glass in, which I can only describe as, a luscious and luxurious fashion.

The nose is very full bodied, and you can tell from the start that there’s a bourbon in your glass. When you dive deeper into the smell though one thing that immediately struck me is that I’m more accustomed to big bold flavours from bourbon. But in this glass, I found them to be much softer than expected. The classic smells were there, but I got a soft cherry candy instead of the “hard candy” I more typically get. And all was covered with a big wallop of cream. And coming back off my first sip, in addition to the fore-mentioned, I got maple sirup covered pancakes with a dash of cinnamon from the nose.

Palate:

Coming of that nose I was quite surprised with the amount of spice I got from the sip. Red pepper flew across my tongue and threw me back a little. Mainly because after smelling it again, I still didn’t get any pepper on the nose.

Going back to the glass after the first sip, with some adjusted expectations, I thankfully got more of the depth that the nose had promised. I still tasted the pepper, but it was backed by molasses, apple, brown sugar and the cream I had also found on the nose. That cream was what made the nose so beautiful, and it did the same for the palate. It was so thick and sweet that I felt it came closest to a clotted cream I had with some scones last Christmas. And as much as I loved it on my scone back then, I liked it even better in the glass I had right now.

Finish:

When I have just had a great whisky experience, the one thing I always hope for is a long finish. And thankfully the Old Rip delivers. Not only that, but it was also my favourite part that lingered: the clotted cream. Surprisingly though I also got some citrus and oak, which I found neither on the nose nor on the palate.

Verdict:

I was slightly sceptical coming into this whisky, because I suspected it might be overhyped quite a bit. I still think it’s very much hyped, and I think some places might charge you accordingly. However, I do think it’s an exceptional whisky. And (if only) it was readily available at retail I would have gone right out and bought a bottle. Seeing some of the prices the bottle goes for online though, I’d have to conclude that buying a bottle for me isn’t worth it. Simply because I still have so much more whiskies to try and buying some Old Rip would mess up my budget bad. But judging just by taste, I can wholeheartedly recommend enjoying a sip.

Rating:

90/100

Value:

C-

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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