MythBusters: Vintage 17 font irrelevant

Vintage 17 Bourbon

In a year of NDP debunking, Drew Kulsveen of KBD discredited a rumor I long believed in a Twitter feed between himself, SKU (@SkusRecentEats) and whomever writes the Bourbon Truth blog (Sorry, I refuse to refer to him as “Lloyd Christmas”):

The text on the back label of Vintage 17 does not indicate whether or not the bourbon is a wheated bourbon or a rye bourbon.

V17 label

As the rumor went, a normal, plain block text on the label indicated a wheated bourbon. An italicized text on the label indicated it was a rye bourbon. If I recall, the italicized labels were released earlier than the plain block text. Since a majority of the labels (that I have seen, anyway) have a plain block text like the one pictured above, the consensus around the water cooler has been that most of the Vintage 17 release floating around are the wheated versions.

This may not matter much if you are a retail-only bourbon buyer, but if you dabble in the secondary market, you may have an interest in this knowledge if you are seeking out one or the other.

Now, that prized 17 year old wheater in your collection may not be what you think it is. The only way to really tell if it is a rye bourbon or a wheater? Open it. Taste it.

So, the Diageo Orphan Barrels are not distilled at Stitzel-Weller, no matter how leading the early marketing may be. “Later” batches of Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18 are not pure Stitzel-Weller, but a blend of 18 year old Stitzel-Weller and a 20 year old rye bourbon, and your wheated Vintage 17 might not be wheated at all.

I wouldn’t be so quick to unload your V17s (unless you plan on giving them to me). If you look around the blog reviews, professional publications, and forum threads, almost no one has anything bad to say about the Vintage 17. If the label does not indicate anything, odds are a few of them were commenting on the rye bourbon and still enjoyed it quite a bit.


6 responses to “MythBusters: Vintage 17 font irrelevant

  1. A NDP that changes sources without telling customers; IMHO why is this a story or even blog worthy? They are NDP’s and that’s what they do. Bulliet is next.


  2. Say what you will about Drew and Willetts sourced booze. I just finished a tour of bourbon country and visited the Willett distillery. Drew and his crew are making some first rate stuff. Once properly aged, Willet will be among the most coveted whiskies around. I can’t wait!


    • I am a big fan. I buy Willett FE bourbon and rye over 6 years every chance I get. The Vintage 21 rye is one of my favorite ryes of all time. Next year, people are going to go absolutely nuts when they put out their own 4 year rye (is my math right on that?). The Vintage 17 rumor was just something that had been passed along as scripture for so long that I never questioned whether or not it was true or not. By his tone, I take it Drew has heard the rumor before, and has done his best to dispel it with little luck.

      The photo tours I have seen make Willett look like a whiskey paradise. It wasn’t touring the last time I was there. Need to go back and get my card punched.


  3. I’m happy to share in the credit, but I really don’t deserve any. I just retweeted what Drew posted. In fact, my recollection is that it was Lloyd Christmas, from BourbonTruth, who I first heard that from (the same guy who publicized the Jeff 18 story). In the end, it just goes to prove what Wade said above: no matter what you hear from anyone, there aren’t really any guarantees about what’s in any NDP (or even distillery bottlings for that matter).


  4. Pingback: Vintage 17 Review – Whisky Musings·

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