15 yr, 107 proof, $99.99 msrp
107 proof. Distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Company, Buffalo Trace Distillery, in Frankfort, Kentucky
Went into Boston, and enjoyed my first taste of one of the most sought after bourbons in the world, Pappy Van Winkle. And did so in the elegant and historical The Last Hurrah, the bar in the historic Omni Parker House, Boston.
The contents of Pappy were originally the same as the contents of Weller 12, made in huge amounts and stored in a vast warehouse. Only those particular barrels which developed in a certain way were set aside to become Pappy. The rest had a slightly different flavor, and became perfectly good in other Weller products.
Van Winkle has a mash bill of corn, wheat, and malted barley, aged in charred new oak barrels. As such, this is a “wheater.”
Normally I disregard the distiller’s own remarks (found on their website and advertisements), but in this rare case I’d have to actually agree:
“See a hazy, copper color. Taste a rich, supple entry, leading to a decadent, huge, full-bodied palate with intense caramel, toffee and peppery brown spice flavors. Then, enjoy a finish with an extreme, long, complex, evolving fade of spice and wood notes. Experts deem it a seductive, exotic and virtually flawless bourbon.”
Any Van Winkle is hard enough to find as it is; this line of bourbons has become one of the most sought after whiskies in the world. One can’t even normally buy it in a store, as stores generally only get a handful of bottles which sell out almost instantly. One needs to win a chance to buy it in a lottery, or otherwise obtain it on the secondary market, where the 15 year sells for over $1000. This year, though, the new release is even harder to find, as explained in their press release:
The long anticipated annual release of the Van Winkle bourbons is nearly here, but unfortunately some of the angels were extra greedy over the past two decades, leaving us less bourbon than in previous years. “When bourbon ages over 15 years, much is lost to the angel’s share. Many of the 53 gallon oak barrels often yield less than 20 gallons,” said Kris Comstock, bourbon marketing director. “Unfortunately this year we experienced poor yields on the older Van Winkle whiskeys. Furthermore, we have strict quality standards here at Buffalo Trace and several of the older Van Winkle barrels did not meet those standards. This makes a drastic difference in volume, considering we have very few barrels as it is. The result is less 15 year-old Pappy Van Winkle than usual, and far less 20 year-old and 23 year-old. Frankly, about half as much as last year.”