Sunday, April 5, 2009

Van Winkle Bourbon

The things you learn. At Thanksgiving of 2007, we had a big crew over to the house for dinner. One of those guests brought us a bottle of Old Van Winkle Bourbon--Tom Stuart aka the Home Boy, is from the same home town as I am--Owensboro, KY. Dave was coming down with a cold and didn't even notice the bourbon, as we had so much activity going on with 15 dinner guests.

The bottle of 12 year old bourbon was placed on our liquor buffet with 4 or 5 other bottles of bourbon, where it languished for over a year. Then one day Dave thought he'd give it a try. He didn't even know where it came from--thought I bought it. I guess he perked right up as soon as he had a sip. He said it was Mighty Fine! After sipping on it for a couple of weeks, he asked me about it. I told him that Tom had brought us that bottle, and I pointed out that it sat around for quite a while before being opened.

Dave became downright enamored of that bourbon and announced the day he drank the last of it, "Alas, the Van Winkle is finished." (No kidding). I sent an email to Tom and mentioned this, asking where he got it. Tom does not drink; he said the Van Winkle was recommended to him by a friend. Then Tom determined that since Dave liked it so much, we had better find some more of it. He and I found out that was easier said than done.

Van Winkle comes from a small distillery in Kentucky and is only distributed in limited quantities in March and September. Further, it only goes out to a few liquor stores. My friend, Ted, who lives in Michigan told me that there is only one store in his entire state that gets any Van Winkle.

The Home Boy was on the trail and Tom located the stores that would get Van Winkle, as well as got the date when the bottles would show up--March 12. Dave and I nicknamed it Van Winkle Day. Tom even corresponded with the president of Van Winkle, when some local store worker couldn't provide any useful information on when we could expect to see some of this liquid gold.

So, March 12 came and went, but the one store that was local to me, claimed not to have any Van Winkle. Finally a week later, I went over there and found it on the shelf. I bought two bottles of the 12 year old to squirrel away for Dave's birthday and didn't mention anything more about the topic.

A couple of weeks later, we went to a bluegrass show, and Tom was there. He couldn't wait to invite Dave outside and then present him with a bottle of 15 year old Van Winkle, in sympathy for the loss of the Oldsmobile. (You'll have to read about that in an earlier blog). What a sweet gesture. Dave has been showing off that bottle and doling out sips of it ever since.

I am glad to know about Van Winkle and the scarcity of it. What an interesting experience that has been.

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