A vintage bottling of the iconic 10-year-old Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon, distilled at the one and only Stitzel-Weller Distillery and bottled by Julian Van Winkle III at the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery in Lawrenceburg. The beardy old man on the label is Rip Van Winkle, the main character of a popular children’s story from 1819. The real-life Van Winkles resurrected their family’s pre-prohibition whiskey brand in the 1970s. Whether there’s a connection between them and the character is unclear, but Old Rip sure is an iconic bourbon mascot. Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Years Old was bottled in the 1990s and exported for the Italian market. Bourbon legend Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle started his whiskey career as a traveling salesman for the wholesale liquor business W.L. Weller & Sons. When Weller founder William Larue Weller retired in 1896, Pappy gained a controlling interest in the company. The Weller brand sourced their whiskey from the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery at the time, and when Prohibition ended in 1933, W.L. Weller and the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery merged into one company. The Stitzel-Weller Distillery opened on Kentucky Derby Day 1935 (May 4). The distillery was sold to Norton Simon in 1972, who renamed it the Old Fitzgerald Distillery. They closed the facility in 1992, and United Distillers changed its name back to the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Today, most of the former Stitzel-Weller brands are distilled at Buffalo Trace, but original Stitzel-Weller bourbon is still any bourbon lover’s holy grail.