Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon Whiskey is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey produced by the Sazerac Company at its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. The arrangement for production at the Buffalo Trace Distillery was the result of a joint venture arrangement with the Van Winkle family that was established in May 2002. The transition was easy with Buffalo Trace producing the Van Winkle bourbons, using Pappy’s exact recipe. This change allows Old Rip Van Winkle to maintain their strict quality standards while producing more barrels for future enjoyment.
There have been four generations of Van Winkles working for the brand starting with the pioneer who established the Van Winkle juggernaut in the latter part of the 19th century; Julian P ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle Sr. He worked as a salesman for the alcohol wholesaler W L Weller and Sons in Louisville, Kentucky and with the help of his friend, Alex Farnsley – acquired the business along with the Stitzel Distillery. They merged the two businesses to form the Stitzel-Weller Distillery producing such bourbons as Old Fitzgerald and W L Weller. Pappy Van Winkle’s son Julian Jr managed the business following his father’s death in 1965 and created a new brand in the pre-Prohibition style, using whiskey stocks he had wisely kept by from the previous distillery. Julian Jr’s son Julian III ran the operation from 1981 following his father’s death and continued the brand. Then Julian Van Winkle III’s son Preston joined in 2001 moving all production to the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
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