This week's whiskey is another from the popular Van Winkle series. As you may recall, I tasted Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old last year. The 12 year old Van Winkle, also known as "Lot B" is very popular among Bourbon enthusiasts.
While they are both under the stewardship of Julian Van Winkle and are both wheat recipe Bourbons, the Lot B and Pappy likely were produced by different distilleries. The Pappy 20 year old is still composed of whiskey made at the old Stitzel-Weller distillery which closed in 1991. While it's not totally clear that the 20 year old is 100% Stitzel-Weller Bourbon, that is the common assumption. Van Winkle Bourbons younger than the 20 year old Pappy were distilled at Buffalo Trace which now produces the whiskey under Julian's guidance.
Van Winkle Special Reserve, 12 years old, Lot "B", 45.2% alcohol ($55)
A nice aroma on this one, full bodied and forceful on the nose with some savory, meaty notes and a wee bit of nail polish in the background. A good savory follow-up on the taste; it's an umami whiskey. I like the Van Winkle series, in general, because it challenges the assumption that wheater means sweeter. It hasn't developed the chewiness of the 20 year old yet, but you can see it going in that direction. Late palate there is a bit of acid which closes out a very nice Bourbon.
I'm not sure I am as enthusiastic about Lot B as many in the Bourbon world, but like the older Van Winkles I've tried, it is a good complex whiskey that deserves pondering over.