Abel to Release Rip Van Winkle Bourbon Reel: ‘Very Limited and Special, Just Like Pappy’

by Kayla Zadel
(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If the fish aren’t biting the bourbon sure will. Even if anglers don’t pack a bit of bourbon when they hit the water, they can now take the essence of Old Rip Van Winkle with them.

Inspired by Wright Thompson, author of the newly released, best-selling Pappyland, Abel is collaborating with the legendary bourbon brand to create a limited edition of reels.

Take a look at the Old Rip Van Winkle Limited Edition fly reel.

Abel is well celebrated among anglers for producing high-end, top-performing fly reels for freshwater and saltwater fishing. The Old Rip Van Winkle Limited Edition fly reel will feature artwork taken from the iconic label of Old RipVan Winkle 10 Year.

“The plan is to keep it very limited and special, just like Pappy,” says Abel spokesperson Art Webb in a Garden & Gun interview. “It’s one of the coolest collaborations we’ve ever done.”

This reel is part of Abel’s Super Series reels, and the first inspired by a liquor brand. The reels remade of aerospace-grade aluminum. The process is a tedious one, and perhaps this is why a reel like this can only be won via a lottery.

The artwork is laser etched and then individually painted by hand using superfine brushes to faithfully recreate the label down to its aged-parchment background. One might be questioning if the reel is going to be functional or something that sits in a museum. However, once the paint job is sealed, the reel will be fully useable to hook, line, and sink that prized catch.

How to Win an Old Rip Van Winkle Limited Edition Reel

Less than 200 reels are going to be made and Abel is expected to release them in spring 2021. This means that one of these collectors-items could prove difficult to come by.

However, there is a way to win one reel. All you need to do is purchase the book Pappyland from Skylark Bookshop in-store or online by December 16. Once they’ve processed your order, they’ll send you a link to the online event and enter your name into the drawing for the very first reel that’s available.

The Big Deal Behind This Bourbon

If you’re not familiar with Old Rip Van Winkle, then you might be asking yourself what’s the big deal? The big deal is that this Kentucky bourbon’s makeup has garnered a cult-like following. Some love the bourbon so much that they might even refer to it as the “nectar of the gods.”

The family business is now in its fourth generation and only produces a small number of bottles. In this video, Julian Van Winkle III, president of the distillery and grandson of iconic bourbon maker Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle, Sr., talks about one of the most sought-after bourbon’s in the world.

Wright Thompson might say it best, “You get the sense that the bourbon is almost an accidental bi-product of these people just living their lives. Maybe that’s why people go so crazy for it.”

Why doesn’t the distillery produce more so “people don’t have to go crazy?” Julian says that they are making more but because the demand is so high, he’s not sure if they’ll ever be able to produce enough.

Coming by one of these bottles is like spotting a unicorn, and when you do, the price tag is typically thousands of dollars. And if you spot a bottle in a bar, only a single shot is usually allowed for purchase. That dram will typically cost you north of $100 though.

A bottle of Pappy 23-year-old is likely to come with a price tag of more than $2,000.