Old Rip Van Winkle's 15 year old Family Reserve
Excellent older S-W distillate
4th Oct 2013
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Tasting Notes by numen
sample from a friend (S-W distillate)
Nose: Light and elegant. It suggests its age with a hint of varnish, and then quickly yields to richer elements. Honey, caramel, gentle spice, and soft cinnamon. The crust of creme brulee. Buttery rich vanilla (and salted butter). Residue of anise or menthol. What strikes me here is the balance of the aromas, and even more that they're all high quality components.
Palate: Toffee mixed with syrup. Some varnish follows for the oak. Buttery butterscotch with a few grains of sea salt. Sweet maple. Salted caramel. Almost a puff of smoke. The same vanilla quality in milky-buttery goodness. Not the widest profile; it just hits these points very well. With more time, some of the deeper and richer notes fade and the varnish becomes more prominent.
Finish: More on the salted caramel, maple, light spice, butter, and oak/varnish in varying levels of emphasis as it continues to evolve. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the hullaballoo about Pappy, but then, at other times, you get an older pour like this and you can see why it was such a fan favorite, current craze aside. I love salted caramel/toffee, though I'm never quite as keen these varnishy notes. Thankfully, even when it's present, it's not dominant. In all, an excellent dram. I did like it with a bit less air (and varnish), yet taking it all into account, A- (91.5)