The Van Winkle bourbons are coming! | Courtesy of Buffalo Trace

Christmas comes a month early for bourbon-lovers, when Buffalo Trace Distillery releases its annual Van Winkle bourbons, which most people just call “Pappy,” in November. Good news is this year, the yields are a bit higher, except for the 13-Year-Old Van Winkle Reserve Rye, which will not be released.

The highly sought-after wheated bourbons that’ll be available are Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old ($59.99); Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old ($69.99); Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old ($99.99); Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old ($169.99); and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old ($269.99).

Some of the most sought-after bourbons | Photo by Sara Havens

Those prices are the suggested retail value, but as we know, most liquor stores will charge well over those amounts for the bottles — if you can even find them.

The Van Winkles and Buffalo Trace have helped crack down on Pappy sales on secondary markets, like Craigslist, by taking legal action against those selling it illegally.

“Unfortunately, we do not control the pricing retailers charge, so many retailers mark it up, even though we ask them not to,” said Julian Van Winkle, president of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, in a press release. “We have not raised prices and do not intend to do so drastically in the future. We are committed to our quality and our pricing and hope retailers will honor what we suggest as retail pricing.”

Keep your eyes peeled for Pappy lotteries at local liquor stores, which many choose to do because it’s the most fair way to distribute their allotment. At least it evens the playing field for everyone and can be just as exciting waiting for your number to be called as it is playing the regular lottery.

Insider will let you know if and when we hear of them, so stay tuned.

New whiskey releases abound

In other news, it appears late summer/early fall is an ideal time to release new bourbons and whiskeys, as evidenced by our inbox. Here’s a roundup of some of them — all of which sound delectable.

French Oak Cask Finished Rye | Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve Distillery Series: French Oak Cask — The latest in Woodford‘s Distillery Series completes the trilogy of rye-based whiskeys that were released this summer. Master Distiller Chris Morris used the rye mash distillate that was used in Woodford’s Aged Cask Rye (Master’s Collection) and put it into some French oak barrels that once held pinot noir — and let it sit for three years.

The result is this 86.4-proof beauty that, according to the press release, tastes of brown butter and honey. You can find a few bottles at area liquor stores, but your best bet is going to the distillery in Versailles. Retails for $49.99.

Jeptha Creed Bloody Butcher’s Creed WhiskeyJeptha Creed has released its very first whiskey, which is only a hint at what’s to come from the new Shelbyville distillery. While its bourbon ages (it’ll be ready in 2019), Master Distiller Joyce Nethery has been experimenting with several new products, including this 92-proof whiskey.

She took both a high rye mash bill and high wheat mash bill and aged them separately in used Four Roses barrels. Then she added toasted oak staves and exposed the barrels to extreme temperatures — cycling them between a freezer truck and the hot Kentucky summer temps. The whiskey’s base is bloody butcher corn, which Nethery plans to use in most products from the distillery. Retails for $35.99.

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye | Courtesy of Jim Beam

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye — The color of this whiskey is incredible. The latest out of the Jim Beam Distillery is a permanent addition, meaning there’s a good chance we’ll all get an opportunity to purchase it at the store. The whiskey is created from a blend of Kentucky straight rye and Canadian rye whiskeys with a splash of California port.

At only 80 proof, we assume it makes a decent sippable spirit but packs a spicy punch, much like regular Basil Hayden. The tasting notes report that it’s a complex blend of caramel, dried fruit and oak, and that there are lingering hints of sweet and spice. Retails for $39.99.

Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon — The 2017 Limestone Branch release is the first to include some of the distillery’s first available 4-year-old bourbon. And to give it some heft, it’s also got 7 and 12-year-old bourbon in it as well from sourced supplies. And after mingling these bourbons, Yellowstone President and Distiller Steve Beam finished the product in charred wine casks.

The result of the 101-proof bourbon is a dark, rich hue with hints of caramel and butterscotch with a finish of dark fruit and leather. Yes, leather. The Limestone Branch Distillery opened in 2011 and is located in Lebanon, Ky. Retails for $99.99.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."