We take immense pride in presenting a unique artifact from bourbon’s illustrious past—a rare bottle that encompasses an exceptional 10-year-old bourbon, a veritable echo from the revered Stitzel-Weller distillery.
This magnificent offering signifies the conclusion of a pivotal era, being the final batch of Stitzel-Weller stock that had the privilege of maturing under the skilled guidance of Julian Van Winkle III. The aging process took place within the venerable walls of the Old Commonwealth Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY, further steeping this bottle in a rich tradition of craftsmanship and quality.
While the bourbon’s connection to the iconic Van Winkle lineage is contained within the bottle, its exterior represents Old Commonwealth Distillery’s unwavering commitment to preserving and continuing the legacy of fine bourbon making. This bottle serves as a symbol of our dedication to excellence, inspiring us as we strive to create future releases that honor our illustrious past.
Presenting an extraordinarily scarce bottling from our archives, meticulously carried out by Julian Van Winkle III at the Old Commonwealth Distillery. This bourbon represents a tangible link to a bygone era, having been originally distilled at the storied Stitzel-Weller distillery prior to its sale.
This 20-year-old bourbon was crafted from residual stock acquired during the transition, masterfully bottled by Julian, thereby encapsulating a remarkable moment in bourbon history. These were not simply ordinary barrels; each cask strength single barrel was a testament to the detailed attention and artisanal spirit that defined Julian’s approach to bourbon crafting.
Exclusively destined for the discerning Japanese market, these bottlings stand as extraordinary emblems of our rich heritage. They embody the convergence of past and present, of tradition and innovation, encapsulating the very essence of our commitment to the art of fine bourbon making.
An exceptionally rare release, this was bottled for the Corti Brothers of Sacramento, CA, in 1994. The Corti Brothers were a family grocer business founded in 1947 by Frank and Gino. Frank’s son Darrell was the one to introduce a specialist spirits knowledge to the business, and they began getting their own Scotch whisky bottled for them in 1978.They contracted their first exclusive Van Winkle Special Reserve bottling in 1987.
The Van Winkle Family Reserve and Special Reserve brands were developed by Julian III with Gordon Hue, the owner of the legendary Cork n’ Bottle in northern Kentucky. Hue had previously worked with Darrell Corti on their Bicentennial Bourbon in the 1970s, and it was his idea to add prestige to the bottlings by using cognacaise glass, procured from the Corti’s contacts at Domaine Chandon in the Napa Valley. Finding Julian III receptive, the idea quickly became a reality and in 1984, the Van Winkle Family Reserve was born.
Just as the bourbon industry was approaching all time post-Prohibition low, Julian Van Winkle III launched what could be considered America’s first fully fledged premium whiskey brand. What seemed like madness was in fact a stroke of genius. Gordon Hue had distribution deals in Europe and crucially, Japan, which in contrast to the US was falling in love with bourbon, particularly the “over-aged” variety that Americans would turn their noses up at. Bottlings like this one are therefore another example of the impressive knowledge of the Corti Brothers, and the confidence in their products that has been so unanimously vindicated over the years by those who have tasted their whiskies. Distilled in 1975, this is Stitzel-Weller bourbon and a true collectors item with liquid from then revered distillery arguably carrying the highest level of interest for collectors in this market.
Colonel Randolph represents an extraordinarily limited-edition bottling, undertaken exclusively for the discerning Japanese market by Julian Van Winkle at the Old Commonwealth Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. This bourbon stands as an embodiment of exclusivity with merely 130 cases produced, making each bottle a remarkable testament to rarity.
Each bottle of Colonel Randolph encompasses the very essence of the original AH Hirsch brand, retaining the unique profile and characteristics that have made it a household name among bourbon aficionados. Its distinguishing feature, however, is the barrel strength expression, granting it a robust and bold flavor that’s unrivaled in its intensity.
This rare bourbon can best be described as “The Best Bourbon You Will Never Taste,” making it not merely a spirit, but an experience in itself—a rare opportunity to partake in a narrative of excellence and exclusivity.
In the 1970s, the popularity of bourbon had not yet reached the fervent heights it enjoys today. Given its less-than-stellar demand, bourbon found an unusual niche as a value-addition to ceramic decanters.
One such novelty was the Hoffman Originals— a remarkable series of decorative ceramic decanters filled with fine bourbon whiskey, distilled at the Hoffman Distillery. These were not mere containers but became collectors’ items in their own right.
Adding to their charm, most of these decanters doubled as music boxes—a testament to the creativity born out of the low demand for bourbon at the time. It was a unique intersection of art and spirits, each decanter an embodiment of intricate craftsmanship and the rich, bold flavor of Hoffman’s bourbon whiskey. Today, these decanters stand as a nostalgic reminder of a time when bourbon was beginning to find its footing in the world of fine spirits.
In the aftermath of the Van Winkle Family’s buyout from the Stitzel-Weller distillery, the new proprietors granted the sons of Pappy Van Winkle (Julian Van Winkle II/III) the first right of refusal to the barrels. This privilege empowered them to bottle their new brands, seamlessly maintaining the family’s bourbon legacy.
Following the demise of Julian Van Winkle II, the bottling operations transitioned to the historic Old Hoffman Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. It was here that Julian III inaugurated the renowned Pappy Van Winkle brand, honoring his grandfather with well-aged barrels sourced directly from the original Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
In 1999, Julian III found himself in a serendipitous encounter with Mitch at his local Chicago bar, Twisted Spoke, during a whiskey tasting. A shared appreciation for bourbon saw Julian agree to create a private label for the local bar—a one-of-a-kind 16-year-old Stitzel-Weller bourbon, bottled at a distinctive 105 proof.
Rather than a rigid pursuit of a particular proof, Mitch was focused on achieving the optimum taste profile to delight his customers. Following multiple tastings and iterations, he discerningly settled on 105 proof as the ideal balance for his bourbon.
This bespoke bottling was among Julian’s final private label projects, marking a significant chapter in his career before he eventually partnered with Sazerac and brought his private bottling agreements to a close. This particular partnership is a captivating part of the Van Winkle Family’s bourbon narrative, encapsulating their relentless pursuit of taste excellence and their dedication to catering to the discerning palates of bourbon enthusiasts.
Established in the late 19th century, Boone’s Knoll was a distinguished brand brought to life by the E.J. Curley Distillery. Curley, a Massachusetts native, is believed to have ventured into the Kentucky distilling scene following his service in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Over the years, the brand changed hands until it ultimately came under the stewardship of Julian Van Winkle during his tenure at Old Commonwealth Distillery. Julian had the honor of bottling the final few batches of Boone’s Knoll, further enhancing its storied legacy.
The closing chapter of Boone’s Knoll transpired when Julian was bought out by Buffalo Trace. However, the Boone’s Knoll brand remains a cherished piece of bourbon history, its story intricately woven into the rich tapestry of American whiskey tradition. The echo of its distinctive taste and its illustrious heritage continues to resonate within the hearts of bourbon connoisseurs across the globe.