Sunday, June 16, 2024

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Bourbon

Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year Overview

Pappy Van Winkle 15 year Whiskey Review! Breaking the seal EP#85

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year, often referred correctly / incorrectly as Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year, is from the fabled and incredibly difficult to find Pappy Van Winkle Line of wheated bourbons and one Rye, otherwise known as Pappy in general.

This is one of the few wheated bourbons on the market, and is produced by Buffalo Trace. Since this is a Pappy product, obtaining this at a reasonable price is difficult given the insane demand and once-a-year release. As a result, it sells out immediately, sold via lottery, or at exceedingly high markups.

Theres one thing I think is worth mentioning about Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year its also often called Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year. While Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year technically isnt the correct name, I totally understand why some say it that way. While it is associated with the Pappy Van Winkle brand and legacy, only the 15, 20, and 23 year technically have the Pappy Van Winkle name on the label. I mention it because some people are quiteparticular about the exact language. I dont care but wanted to make sure you were informed, so call it Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year, Pappy 12 Year, or magic unicorn juice.

So yeahVan Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year / Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year is very sought after, but in this review Im going to dive into whether the bourbon is Top Shelf and a worthy? Lets find in this Van Winkle 12 Year review.

Buffalo Trace Lineup of Reviews

Some Pappy Bottles May Contain Bourbon From Another Distillery

As for which ones, its a mystery. Since Pappy joined a joint partnership with Buffalo Trace in 2002, the source of every bottles contents has been a point of contention among whiskey aficionados. Some claim that its impossible for Buffalo Trace to perfectly replicate the same bourbon that was produced in the Stitzel-Weller distillery and won the 1996 award.This belief is one of the reasons that people are willing to fork out far more cash for an older bottle of Pappy. After 2002, whiskey produced at the Buffalo Trace distillery was mixed with old Stitzel-Weller stock before being bottled so some Pappy 23 year as recently as 2015 may have traces of Stitzel-Weller in it.

Tasting Notes: Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old

Vital Stats: 107 proof, 15 years old

Nose: This smells like a night at the movie theater: candy corn, A& W Root Beer, popcorn, butter, shellac. Theres also some slightly hidden aromas of tropical fruit pineapple, coconut, and orange peel. With water, the nose takes a totally unexpected turn, transforming into an herbaceous, pungently mossy aroma with notes of algae, unsmoked peat moss, chlorophyll, and live wood.

Palate: The initial flavors are tart and a little bitter blood orange, citrus gastrique, dark chocolate, wheat bran. As the palate evolves, more of those classic aged bourbon flavors appear like warmed prunes, nutmeg, perique tobacco, stewed cherry, and pencil shavings.

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Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Years Old Bourbon Whiskey Review

Rating: A+

Although Pappy Van Winkle has only a middling history as Kentucky bourbons go, the label is one of the most rarefied on the market today. As the story goes, Julian P. Van Winkle graduated from Centre College in Kentucky in 1892, went to work for a wholesaler, and gravitated into whiskey-making when he bought the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery with a partner in 1910. One of the labels produced by the distillery was Old Rip Van Winkle. Prohibition interrupted the distillerys production, and Van Winkle did not reappear until the 1970s.

Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery is actually just a name, because Julian Van Winkle III doesnt own a distillery of his own. Instead, the bourbon is made at Buffalo Traces distillery.

Pappy Van Winkles 15 Year bourbon is the starter whiskey of the labels premium ladder. Even so, it is a rare bird and the sort of thing not usually seen on store shelves, even behind glass. Waiting lists for Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve whiskeys are common, so if you want to try a bottle of even the labels youngest whiskey, be prepared to order it well in advance.

AwardsPappy Van Winkle 15 Year Family Reserve won a platinum medal from the International Review of Spirits.

Pappy Van Winkles Family Reserve 15 Year Old Bourbon

Pappy Van Winkle


In 1893, Julian Pappy Van Winkle Sr. began working as a traveling salesman for the W.L. Weller & Sons Company in Louisville, Kentucky. Weller & Sons was a liquor wholesaler and sold bourbon behind various labels, including Old Fitzgerald and Rebel Yell.

After the turn of the century, Van Winkle purchased Weller & Sons Co., together with the Stitzel Distillery , and merged the two companies.

While Prohibition forced most distilleries to close their doors soon thereafter, Van Winkle was granted a license to continue operating his distillery and producing whiskey for medicinal purposes.

Van Winkle Bourbons pays homage to one of the whiskey industrys founding fathers. This bottling is a real treat for any wheated whiskey lover and a truly monumental American whiskey experience.

Crafted with the exclusive Van Winkle family recipe, its drawn from the finest barrels in the heart of the Kentucky warehouse, where they have spent 15 years. Rich, decadent, and full-bodied, it features an intense profile with caramel, toffee, spice, and wood notes.

Grab this legendary whiskey today!


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Theres Such A Thing As A Pappy Tracker

The brand only releases bottles once a year. But since the folks at Pappy want to make it as easy as possible for people to get a taste, they offer a list on the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery website of all the stores that receive an allocation of Pappy. But because of the limited quantity, it turns out that as easy as possible isnt all that easy.

Pappy Van Winkles Family Reserve 15 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey 750 Ml


This very rare, limited edition bourbon takes generations of distilling know-how to produce. Only the most careful and expensive distilling method can be used to create a whiskey as special as this one. This is the same distillation as our famous 20 year old Pappy Van Winkles Family Reserve. These barrels were carefully selected from the heart of the warehouse. This whiskey should be enjoyed neat. Any ice or water will dilute the uniqueness. Rated Five Stars by Paul Pacult. -The Distillery

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Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year Smell

Van Winkle 12 immediately hits my nose with an almost overwhelming surge of alcohol, surprising for something thats 45.2% and 12 years old. After that initial alcohol rush, there are very nice secondary notes of orange, with some grapefruit, green grapes, and apple juice that arent strong, but easy enough to pick out from the alcohol.

The citrus and fruit notes, combined with a little bit of honey from the grains remind me of orange marmalade spread on wheat toast, as well as Tang, the sweet orange drink. Theres also a hint of walnut and cherry, as if it was an amontillado sherry. There is surprisingly only a little woodiness on the nose.

Once the glass is empty and only the heads remain, I smell apple juice, allspice, and cinnamon. After leaving the glass alone for a few more minutes, the glass emits a slightly dusty, wood chest that hasnt been opened for years, scent.

Van Winkle 12 Years combination of must and orange also leads to dried orange peel. The dusty smell really threw me off, so after my first glass, I cleaned it and tried it again. Even then, that musty smell reappeared. Its not unpleasant, just unexpected.

Underneath the alcohol, is a complex, citrusy, fruity, and nutty whiskey. Its a unique scent, very different from the usual wood and brown sugar-forward bourbons. Its a shame that its dominated by alcohol, it could have been so much more.

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Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Year Bourbon Whiskey
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The youngest of the Pappy Van Winkle offerings, Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year is perhaps the most versatile. Bottled at a robust 107 proof, the bourbon can be enjoyed straight or cut with the drinkers mixer of choice. Packing notes of leather, cinnamon, and vanilla, it is a virtually flawless whiskey.

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old 2015 / 107 Proof

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Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15yr

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Expressly produced according to the exclusive Van Winkle family wheated recipe and specially selected from barrels in the heart of the aging warehouse, this bourbon remained undisturbed for 15 years to age in deep-charred heavy oak untouched by human hands, unhurried by time. This bourbon has an elegant and sweet aroma with caramel corn and vanilla. It features big flavor of leather, oak and complex fruitiness, and the finish is smooth with notes of spice and oak tannins.

This product will be distributed via lottery. Shop other bourbons.

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Pappy Van Winkle 12 Year Taste And Aftertaste

Unlike the smell, the Van Winkle 12 Year is gentler on the palate. The first taste is not of powerful alcohol, but a moderate citrus taste with subdued notes of honey and grain, again reminding me of orange marmalade on toast.

I can see how people describe it as nectar. The alcohol is present in the background, but does not overpower the other flavors.

There is also some wood spice in the taste. Unlike Makers Mark Cask Strength, another wheated bourbon I reviewed, the Special Reserve does not have the sourdough, yeast, or dry grass tastes.

The aftertaste is short, leaving light flavors of cereal, wood, and oddly enough, coconut-flavored coffee creamer . Swishing the whiskey around leads to a longer aftertaste and adds mint chewing gum after youve just spit it out of your mouth, something I would expect from a bourbon with rye, not wheat.

Overall, Van Winkle 12 Year flavors are very good and enjoyable, but not outstanding. The citrus and fruit-forward notes are unique and interesting, but nothing pops out and makes me think that this is amazing. If some of the flavors were a bit more bold, this could be excellent.

Whiskey is also for sharing, so I use Vivaplex, 12, Amber, 2 oz Glass Bottles, with Lids for smaller samples and Vivaplex, 12, Amber, 4 oz Glass Bottles, with Lids for larger ones. Full transparency This is an Amazon affiliate link so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else. Regardless, I actually use these myself.

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Place On The Whiskey Shelf

Overall, the Old Rip Van Winkle 12 Year is a very good, but not great bourbon. On taste alone, its nearly excellent, but lacks a wow factor because of its muted and subdued flavors. Maybe its the ABV, maybe its the blending. Unfortunately, the smell detracts from the overall experience because of the overpowering alcohol on the nose.

While the fruit notes in the Van Winkle 12 Year are unique, especially in bourbon, I dont think that theres anything exceptional about it to take it to the Top Shelf level. The whole time, I just thought This is pretty good and unique, Id drink this again.

For better or worse, this is one of those rare bottles that flies off the shelf regardless of how good everything else is around it. The Pappy Van Winkle name alone elevates it to an unobtainable luxury whiskey, but the hype doesnt match the liquid insidenot even close at that.

To be fair, I would still buy Van Winkle 12 Year if I could get it for $70 plus tax, but I couldnt justify much paying more than the asking price, especially the near 4 figure price now a days.

Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf. I hope to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. Proudly Asian American and speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.There are no sponsors, no media companies, and no nonsense. Support The Whiskey Shelf by Buying Me A Shot.

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year

Pappy Van Winkle


Expressly produced according to the exclusive Van Winkle family wheated-recipe and specially selected from barrels in the heart of the aging warehouses, this bourbon remained undisturbed for 15 years to age in deep-charred heavy oak untouched by human hands, unhurried by time.

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Things You Should Know About Pappy Van Winkle

Pappy Van Winkle is the unicorn of bourbons, known for both its quality and its rarity. The whiskey is one of the hardest-to-find bottles out there, and its cherished worldwide as the ultimate example of quality. One New York bar even sold shots of Pappy for $315 each.

The coveted Kentucky bourbon brand has a rich flavor a spicy-sweet blend of nutty oak, with notes of honeyed citrus, maple, and vanilla and an even richer history. So if your pockets are feeling deep, or if youre a whiskey connoisseur looking to achieve nirvana, read on for 15 things you should know about the holy grail of bourbons: Pappy Van Winkle.

How To Score The Worlds Most Coveted Bourbon

Ten years ago it was possible to put your name on a waiting list and reliably pick up a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old.

No longer.

Every expression of the brand is harder to find than Bigfoot and if you do locate a bottle, itll be marked up at more than 10 times the recommended retail price.

Slightly good news: The 2017 batch of Van Winkle, released this November will be slightly larger than the usual run of 7,000 three-bottle cases this, despite the 13 Year Old Van Winkle Reserve Rye not coming out this year. Yet odds of scoring a bottle remain sketchy.

But it cant hurt to try. You can improve your odds by following our guide:

Beware of Phonies: Remember me saying that my empty Van Winkle bottles could fetch a couple hundred bucks on eBay? Scammers have caught onto the buzz and fake Pappy is everywhere. The best way to avoid being swindled is to only buy from someone with a liquor license, like a store or restaurateur.

Cultivate Your Liquor-Store or Buddy-in-the-Bar Business: If you regularly and frequently do business at a high-end liquor store, make sure the management/ownership knows knows your name and knows your interest. Ditto if you have any contacts who are similarly placed in the upscale restaurant or bar trade. A given establishment might receive up to four bottles of Van Winkle, and maybe you can play your cards into getting one of them set aside for you.

This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. .

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Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Review

Typically, I write reviews on this site as a way to help readers make better decisions on what to buy. I review a lot of bourbons and whiskies on my MyWhiskey page but only a select few make it to the blog. Because of this I have not reviewed any of the Pappy Van Winkles on the blog. My reasoning, no one is on the fence of whether or not to buy Pappy Van Winkle. People dont wait in line for hours drive hundreds of miles and then google Pappy Van Winkle reviews to decide whether or not to buy. However, because allocations are so slim stores are moving to lottery systems or only allowing one bottle per customer. Because of this I decided it was time to post my review.

Pappy Van Winkle is the most sought after bourbon in the world right now. The Pappy craze continues to hit new levels of insanity during its yearly release every fall. This post is not about the hype, craziness, etc. of Pappy Van Winkle. It is a review to find out what the hype, craziness, etc. is all about.

Every fall Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery releases their lineup of bourbons and one rye whiskey, Pappy 23, Pappy 20, Pappy 15, Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot B, Old Rip Van Winkle 10 and Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. The 15 year is usually my favorite in the lineup. For my taste, 12-15 years seems to be the sweet spot. Any younger and the bourbon can be slightly too hot and lack complexity. Much older and it can be over-oaked or too tannic.

Key Ingredients & Abv

Why People Lose Their Shit Over Pappy Van Winkle

Buffalo Trace uses their wheated bourbon mash bill in making the Pappy products, replacing the usual rye mash with wheat mash. Many alcohol enthusiasts believe that using wheat instead of rye results in smoother and sweeter bourbons. The other ingredients are corn and malted barley.

The distillers used Kentucky limestone water before bottling the liquor at varying proofs from 90.4 to 107.

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All About Pappy Van Winkle

The Van Winkle bourbon whiskey products used more than 51% corn and rested the blend in new American charred oak casks for at least ten years. However, this brand rose above other whiskey products when it came to popularity.

Aside from endorsements of celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain, the Beverage Testing Institute also gave the product a 99/100 score.

Most Pappy whiskey expressions also received many recognitions from San Francisco World Spirits Competition and International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon Family Reserve 15 Year Old Pappy Van Winkle

  • ABOUT A younger version of the famous 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, this bourbon was crafted according to the exclusive family wheated recipe. The smooth, oak flavor blends well with the barrel proof. Selected from barrels in the heart of our Kentucky warehouse, it has remained untouched for 15 years and unhurried by time. A whiskey connoisseurs bonanza,remarkable findranks with the best whiskeys, Paul Pacults Spirit Journal.Rated 98 by the Beverage Tasting Institute

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