Monday, June 9, 2014

Very Olde St. Nick Tasting with the SoCal Whiskey Club

Very Olde St. Nick is a whiskey label that was bottled by Julian Van Winkle and Kentucky Bourbon Distillers exclusively for the Japanese export market back in the early 2000s.  Back then, the Japanese market was much more interested in super-aged bourbons than the the American market. These bourbons and ryes likely came from some of the same sources that went into the legendary Willett and Black Maple Hill bottlings from that era.  The ryes are most likely to be from the old Bernheim or Medley distilleries; the bourbons could be from any number of sources.

These are extremely rare.  Even in Japan, they haven't been available for years, except for the occasional dusty. I've never seen one in the flesh.

For the first time that I know of in the US, there will be a public tasting of the entire line of Very Olde St. Nick whiskeys.  The Southern California Whiskey Club is hosting two tastings in which they will run through the entire line up; the first tasting, later this month, will cover the ryes.  In August, a second meeting will taste the bourbons.  The club was formed last year, and the great thing about it is that anyone can join, and meetings are open to all comers, first come, first served. 

The Very Olde St. Nick rye tasting will be Sunday, June 22 at 7:00 pm at Far Bar in Little Tokyo.  The fee is $59 which includes a half ounce sample of each whiskey and food.  The whiskeys being sampled in that meeting are:

  • Summer Rye, 80 proof
  • 15 year Ancient Rye, 86 proof
  • 16 year, Rare Perfection Rye, 86 proof
  • 17 year, Ancient Rye, 103.7 proof
  • 18 year, Ancient Rye, 104.6 proof
 You can sign up for the tasting on the Southern California Whiskey Club website.

I doubt a tasting like this will come around again anytime soon, so even if you're not in the Southern California area, you might want to consider attending.

Note:  Sku is not affiliated with the Southern California Whiskey Club and receives no compensation from them.  He just thinks this is a really cool tasting.


morlock said...
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Unknown said...

This is the information directly from Willet and Marci Palatella (President International Beverage):

Olde St Nick has been a very small craft brand for years, but with the recent interest in fine, craft bourbon and whiskey, things have gotten a bit crazy. There are people hearing about it from the USA, Europe, and overseas.

There’s so little stock we’ve been afraid to post much. And yes, we need to put up a website but haven’t gotten around to it. There’s never enough whiskey to go around, but some releases finally coming out the end of summer,

These are inconsistent, super small batch releases so keep an eye open for it and hopefully you’ll be able to find some to add to your tasting.

Here’s a bit of background:

Julian Van Winkle (yes, that one) originally produced many of the Very Old St Nick bourbons. Our family has over 100 combined years in the whiskey and alcoholic beverage business, and my husband knew all of the Van Winkle distillers from Pappy, his son Julian II and then Pappy’s grandson Julian III, with whom we worked until he sold part of his interest to Sazerac, which is now Buffalo Trace. We see the postings on the internet saying Very Olde St Nick was originally an item made by Heaven Hill, but that could not be further from the truth !!!

Our family has also been close for years with the Kulsveens from WIlletts Distillery. Even Kulsveen, the father of Drew and Britt, was a wonderful help over the years with our brands. He’s an incredible man, a top notch very private whiskey authority, and would hate me telling you that! So as you can see, history, and great contacts along with dumb luck allowed us to get a wonderful start and some fantastic products.

There are many Olde St Nick stories… When Julian was partnering with Sazerac he felt badly about cutting off our distribution arrangement, and introduced me to a wonderful contact at Diageo as a supply source. At that time, Diageo didn’t want the old Van Winkle produced bourbon whiskey stocks they inherited when they acquired the historic Stitzel Distillery more than 2 decades ago, and they were looking for a buyer, (they told me bluntly, “after 12 years it’s all downhill”. HA) Our family worked out a deal and Diageo sold us nice amounts of some very old bourbons, which over the years was used in Olde St Nick. We got lucky back when no one else wanted bourbons and rye.

Contacts and dumb luck. What you see out there are many of the same items that were produced at the old Stitzel plant, which is now being resurrected by Diageo after years of closure. I believe it’s where the old original Pappy whiskies were from as well, that same Stitzel Distillery plant!!

Lots more but I need to run to our son’s graduation. You’ll be seeing from Very Olde St Nick and Olde St Nick some interesting rye whiskey, bourbons, and other items, including new small releases of Summer Rye and Winter Rye soon.

Hoping this helps you. Contact me if you need anything else.

Marci Palatella

Unknown said...

So with this direct information from Marci Palatella, it appears that Diageo sold their "overaged" stocks of rye and bourbon to Olde St Nick. But these unwanted whiskeys were made by Julian Van Winkle at the now legendary Stitzel Distillery plant that Pappy Van Winkle was made at.

sku said...

Great info. Michael. Thanks. See if you can get more information on the rye. I don't think Stitzel Weller made any rye.

Bas said...

Imported the Winter Rye myself once and that was a great whiskey. Prices for the others are way out of my leaque.

Anonymous said...

Sku, I'm curious to see if you attended the tasting, and what your impressions of the ryes were. Is there a future post coming?

sku said...

I usually try to avoid reviews of things that no one can get, but if people would be interested, maybe I will.

Anonymous said...

I can speak for at least 3 of your readers who, like myself, also attended the tasting. You're usually pretty good about calling out the hype versus subjectively 'great' stuff, so if nothing else, we would be interested in reading your opinions as a comparison to our own.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I have the opportunity to purchase the 18 year rye and a 15 year and am wondering if they are worth the $250 asking price.Someone please write a review. Thanks

Tom Swigk said...
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