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Review #11 - Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year, Lot B

I first started seriously drinking whiskey in my mid 20s. It doesn’t take long in this hobby to figure out that the Van Winkle line has reached mythical status, and outside of some raffle luck or substantially more disposable income that obtaining one was fairly unrealistic for me. It was with that mindset that my inebriated self and some friends found ourselves at a bar that was way too classy for us and offered pours of the 10 year Old Rip Van Winkle and the 12 year Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot B for $80 and $90 a pour, respectively. I figured I’d splurge and finally get a crack at all the fuss. From what I remember, it was fantastic, and to this day it’s the only whiskey that my wife looks back on fondly and actively recruits me to get. Pretty sure she was drunk, too.

Finally, this year, I was able to obtain one through a trade. I’m a sentimental person, so for the last number of months it has stayed in my cabinet not to be touched till our anniversary. (Insert Awwws) Been waiting with anticipation to crack the 2018 release of this 12 year expression of the Buffalo Trace Wheat Mashbill.

I drank out of a glencairn which rested 10 minutes while we ate McAllisters club sandwiches. (COVID really screwed up our plans)

Scores are between 1 (drain), 2 (finish but wouldn’t order at a bar), 3 (solid pour), 4 (actively seek out) and 5 (whatever it takes).

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year “Lot B”

Age: 12 years

Proof: 90.4 proof


Butterscotch and vanilla. There is some dark fruit that comes out too like figs and blackberries. My lasting impression is something along the lines of candy apple. 4.5


Oily and sweet, really fits my personal profile well. There are hints of oak, vanilla, and butter. It’s not as complex as the nose, but I would think most people could describe this as an easy drinker. 4


There is some light heat but nothing too outrageous. An oaky sweetness hits on the way down with notes of light cinnamon sticking around. 4

Total: 4.2

Just super. Approachable for everyone, even my wife will drink it without saying it tastes like alcohol. It’s far from perfect and would benefit from a higher proof (in my opinion), but if you’re Sazerac I guess why mess with a winning formula?

Thoroughly enjoyed this, and I’m glad I finally have a bottle. It’s probably one I should nurse until I get a backup, though, and continue enjoying with my wife when she wants to drink whiskey with me. Crossing my fingers for raffle season.


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