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Van Winkle 10 vs Van Winkle 12: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Old Rip Van Winkle 10 vs Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 and decide which is better for You!

Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Bourbon

old-rip-van-winkle-10
NoseVanilla, ripe fruit, honey, bread, oak
PalateCaramel, cherry, baking spice, red fruit
FinishLong, caramel, oak
Alcohol content107 proof (53.5% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toNoah’s Mill

Pleasant aroma, rich in vanilla and fruity notes with a touch of fine spice and a tad of oak.

On the palate the Van Winkle 10 is fairly warm but really nice and comfortable showing a creamy texture with strong notes of ripe cherries and honeyed caramel.

The finish is decently long and warming, with some baking spice and oak coming late to the party.

Adding a dash of water brings more oak and spice while tuning-down the heat, but honestly this pour does not need water to shine.

Overall, the Van Winkle 10 is a super tasty and smooth whiskey although a bit warm but nothing terrible or off-putting, it does not drink as a 107 proof whiskey but as 90 proof and a great whiskey to taste.

This whiskey is the most basic offering from Pappy Van Winkle and it does not disappoints despite the high expectations around it.

Learn how it compares to the Weller Antique 107!

There are a few facts worth knowing about Van Winkle 10:

  • This bourbon has a fair amount of wheat content in the mash bill, hence the bready notes.
  • Old Rip Van Winkle and Pappy Van Winkle are sister brands produced in the same Buffalo Trace Distillery. This technicality means that when you buy an Old Rip you don’t get the badass looking Julian Van Winkle smoking a cigar on the label.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12

van-winkle-special-reserve-12
NoseOak, caramel, cinnamon, caramel.
PalateCherry, cinnamon. vanilla, chocolate
FinishVanilla, cinnamon, caramel
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toWeller 12

Van Winkle 12 is remarkably smooth with zero burn as opposed to the 10 YO which has a bit of a bite.

It has a soft mouthfeel, quite rich in cinnamon from start to finish, it shows more oak than the 10 YO for obvious reasons but is just a hint as the oak does not overpowers the precious cherried flavor.

The finish is long and pleasing full of vanilla and toffee notes making it quite good.

Overall, Van Winkle 12 is a very smooth dram with no heat with a noticeable cinnamon note and a bready feel due to the rich wheat content in the mash bill.

A very nice dram, indeed, although the rich cinnamon note reminds me of Don Julio Añejo a bit.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Van Winkle 12:

  • Van Winkle 12 is also high on wheat.
  • Aged for 12 years in new, charred American Oak barrels.

Van Winkle 10 vs Van Winkle 12: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskeyPrice
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Bourbon$770
Old Rip Van Winkle Special Reserve 12$1,000

The Van Winkles are easier to find than the Pappys and more affordable. Look into drizly.com and dewinespot.co and compare prices as the differences tend to be quite high.

Van Winkle 10 vs Van Winkle 12: Which is better?

The 12 YO is easier to like as it feels smoother

  • I would not call the Van Winkle 12 an improvement over the 10 YO but a different kind of bourbon and more likely to be liked by most consumers.
  • The 10 YO is pleasantly warm but warm, nonetheless as it bites a bit which might be a deal-breaker for many folks.
  • Personally, I am fond of punchy drams and prefer a bite but you better know before purchasing such an expensive whiskey.
  • The 12 YO is incredibly smooth, no burn whatsoever making a better choice for those who pay a premium on smoothness. Just be aware that it is higher in oak and cinnamon.

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