Monday, April 14, 2014
The Pappy Van Winkle Time Line
Given the popularity of the Van Winkle whiskeys and the number of detailed questions I see about these bottles, I thought it would be helpful to put together a chronology of the various Van Winkle releases. I've attempted to list all the key release dates and have also tried to document changes to the appearance of the bottles so that people can better date their Van Winkles.
As you'll notice, this list includes general releases only, not private bottlings, of which there were a number in the early days. In addition, it deals only with bottle appearance and release dates, not with where various releases were distilled.
Our chronology begins in 1972, the year the Van Winkle family sold the Stitzel-Weller distillery to Norton-Simon but kept the rights to the Van Winkle name.
1972: Old Rip Van Winkle 7 yo 90 and 107 proof released.
1983: Old Rip Van Winkle 90 & 107 proof changed from 7 to 10 yo.
1989: Old Rip Van Winkle 15 released, barrel bottle.*
1990-1992: Van Winkle 16 and 17 yo released for export only.
1991: Van Winkle 12 yo Lot A and Lot B released (Lot B would continue).
1994: Pappy Van Winkle 20 released.
1997: Old Rip Van Winkle 12 Rye released, barrel bottle.
1998: Pappy Van Winkle 23 and Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 yo released (Rye might have been released in '97).
1999: Regular bottles for Van Winkle series changed from (very light) green glass to clear glass.
2002: Address on Van Winkle whiskeys changed from Lawrenceburg to Frankfort when Van Winkles partnered with Buffalo Trace.
2003: Second release of Pappy 23 (late 2003/early 2004).
2004: Old Rip Van Winkle 15 (barrel bottle) replaced with Pappy Van Winkle 15 (regular bottle).
2007: Digital bottle codes showing date and time of bottling begin appearing on each bottle.
2009: Old Rip Van Winkle 23 decanter released.
Fall 2011: Last release of Old Rip Van Winkle 10/90.
Spring 2012: Last spring release of Van Winkle whiskeys.
2013: Old Rip Van Winkle 10/107 changed from barrel bottles to regular bottles.
It's harder to pin down this information than you would think, and I had lots of help on this list so my thanks go out to everyone who assisted. Particular thanks go to the Van Winkles for digging through their records to find some of the more elusive dates.
*"Barrel bottles" are the squat bottles that were used for the Old Rip Van Winkle and Old Weller lines, so called because the base of the bottle looks like a barrel, sort of.