Silhouette of a Buffalo

Julian Van Winkle Biography

Julian P. Van Winkle III is the third generation Van Winkle to produce bourbon whiskey in Kentucky. He joined his father, Julian Jr., in 1977. At that time, Old Rip Van Winkle produced only two labels of its wheated bourbon whiskey. They were a 10-year 90 and 107 proof Old Rip Van Winkle.

Since then Julian has added 12-year, 15-year, 20-year and 23-year bourbon labels to the Van Winkle selection of premium bourbon whiskeys. He also has added a 13-year premium rye whiskey to the whiskey portfolio. All of these whiskeys have received ratings in the 90s by the Beverage Tasting Institute in Chicago, with the 20-year receiving a 99 rating.

Julian operated the company by himself after his father's death in 1981. He was joined by his son Preston in June 2001, the fourth generation of Van Winkles to venture into the whiskey business.

In 2002, the Van Winkles entered into a joint venture with Buffalo Trace Distillery in Franklin County, Frankfort, Ky. All of the Van Winkle’s whiskey production now takes place at Buffalo Trace Distillery under the same strict guidelines the family has always followed.

In January 2009, Julian was honored to be nominated as a Fellow at the Southern Foodways Alliance annual fundraiser at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. The following year, Julian was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans and Chefs. This is a tremendous honor as the group members are some of the most talented people around. In 2011, Julian received the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional, becoming the first James Beard winner from Kentucky.