You will all be sufficiently forlorn to learn that the Pappy craze, having gone from annoying, then evolving to insane, and now to a new “blood shooting from my eyes” kind of psychopathy, has jumped every kind of shark in the ocean. The secondary market of re-sold Pappy Van Winkle bourbons and rye whiskies is still off the charts crazy. The markups and resulting transactions could be considered large and complex enough to qualify as a micro-economy, at least it seems to me. I remember people predicting that the Pappy bubble would have already burst years ago, but yet a guy could land a bottle and still resell it for enormous markup. The one thing no one has been able to answer definitely at the end of the day was why this particular brand took off this way and not others. Pappy, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others, is by far not the best bourbon around, but rich dentists couldn’t know the difference.
All this being said, if you had a shot at a bottle, I hope it would be Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 12 Year Old “Lot B” expression. You will never be able to find the rye. I never see the 10. The 15 is a bit too oaky, and the 20 and 23 year old are absurd wastes of time and money. Don’t even bother. The 12 seems to be the golden ticket of the group, achieving ideal balance with nice wheated flavors. It’s the best overall package, bottled at 45.2% and distilled by Buffalo Trace. We reviewed it years ago, but today we take another look for prosperity’s sake. On to it…
Nose- Nice oakiness with plenty of non-overpowering wheated sweetness with cinnamon and red apples. Lovely BT goodness. Cherry coke. Vanilla bean. Warmed caramel. More fruity and nutty than I remember.
Taste- Weighty. Nicely sweet with Werthers. Spice cabinet. Orange marmalade.
Finish- Oaky vanilla bean. Barrel char with light sweetness. Medium length. Still some fruit.
Comment- Our appreciation for the whiskey remains. If you can find one Pappy, try for this one and don’t sell it. Do what every bourbon drinker should do, which is, you know, drink it. Good day.
SWC Rating- 86/100
Agree? Disagree? I’m never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down.