New Bourbon Awarded Best in World by Char Awards

Very Wrinkled Van Winkle. Photo definitely not courtesy Buffalo Trace.
Very Wrinkled Van Winkle. Photo definitely not courtesy Buffalo Trace.

April 2 Update—Thank you for joining The Bourbon Review and Tito Belvedere for April Fools’ Day! We’ll see you next year—if not sooner. 


A new, never-before-seen Van Winkle whiskey has been crowned uncontested champion bourbon in the 2019 Char Awards, hosted by the American Bourbon Champions Definitive Empirical Finals.

A 30-year-old, bottled-in-bond release called Very Wrinkled Van Winkle is now emperor of whiskeys, according to a statement released this morning, April 1, by the American Bourbon Champions Definitive Empirical Finals this morning, and first reported on in a prestigious Forbes blog.

The American Bourbon Champions Definitive Empirical Finals boasts a prestigious panel, including well-known industry palates, authoritative voices from the world of whiskey journalism, influencers with at least 10,000 followers on one platform, two contestants from season six of The Bachelor, and the entire Supreme Court.

The ABCDEF tasting was conducted in triple blind: the judges did not know what whiskey was in the glass, had not been told what bottles had made it to the final round, and were forced to write their tasting notes with the lights off and shades drawn at the windows.

Just a single bottle of Very Wrinkled Van Winkle was filled eight months ago by Sazerac President and CEO Mark Brown, who had taken a near-empty barrel and run the pieces through an industrial press to express remaining drops of liquid from the staves. The barrel had originally been set aside to produce Fireball Antique.

The final tasting notes, released this morning, call VWVW a “complex and emotional whiskey, showing notes of cherry creme brûlée served inside an active sawmill.”

The vote was not entirely unanimous. Whisky Bible author Jim Murray had abstained from the final vote, noting that the Sazerac bottling from the 2014 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection he had tasted that morning before breakfast was not included in the list. Also abstaining from the vote was veteran taster and writer Lew Bryson, who after tasting the whiskey, attempted to install a shadow government over the panel to hide the existence of Very Wrinkled Van Winkle from the public. He filibustered, clutching the bottle to his chest for over two hours, before finally being convinced to allow the proceedings to continue by an offer of a second pour of the mystery liquid.

The bourbon also received special recognition from whiskey security expert Aaron Goldfaarb, who assured that the whiskey was unhackable.

In a corner seat at one of the judging tables, author Fred Minnick sat thoroughly spent, blotting beads of sweat from his brow with a spare ascot. Asked about the winning vote, Minnick nodded solemnly, commenting, “it’s definitely my new favorite pick for a house bourbon.”

Very Wrinkled Van Winkle (now emptied and holding a few ounces of Wheatley Vodka) will be on sale for three minutes an unnamed store in Texas, for a retail price of $1,100.

Tito Belvedere
Tito Belvedere is the vodka editor for Bourbon Review. He focuses on good, clean flavor distilled above 190 proof. April Fools', everyone!