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This is an older release from Buffalo Trace and the Van Winkles. Age stated to be 13 years, though unofficially a bit older if I'm not mistaken, this is potentially a great sweet spot for rye, especially a rye that is so well regarded as the BT/BH blend of tanked ryes at Buffalo Trace. A year or two after this release, the distillate that was tanked ran out and BT went back to being the sole supplier of rye for this line. I've been looking forward to this one for some time, especially as I've had a bit of rye lately. Let's get to it.
Leather, old tobacco, dusty book, rye spice and toffee. Intensely sweet, pungent and rich. It smells like an excellent pipe tobacco. There's a little herbal quality, but it's pretty tame.
Thick and rich on the palate. For the proof it coats the palate excellently. Rich and syrupy, with really powerful notes like oak, toffee, pipe tobacco, stewed fruits and almost a cocoa note. Decadent, wonderful, complex.
Long, more tobacco here, lots of cream and sweetness, pungent rye spice and pepper, faintly herbal.
This is incredible. Falling just a touch shy of the epic Bernheims I've been lucky enough to try, but this is one of the best ryes I've ever had, full stop. If there is a single Van Winkle that lives up to any sort of the pedestal they are put on, I think it's this one. I don't have any newer VWFRR to review, but I've heard tale they aren't as close to as good as this is, which is a bummer, so I'll let this be my mental image of Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. It's a good one.