Pappy Van Winkle 15: There Is No Place Like…Vermont?

Vermont is for Lovers and people with a heavy sweet tooth.  Dieters and the color blind miss out on a lot the state has to offer.  One of Vermont’s finest contributions to every day life is their maple syrup.  That, and there are some pretty good breweries up there too.  But last night I was transported in a very unusual way to the land of fall colors and flannel.

A couple of weeks back I posted a picture of my latest acquisition at the Idaho Liquor Store.  It was a bottle of Pappy Van Winkles 15 year old Bourbon.  I was really excited, too because it was the first time I had found it at such an affordable price, $54.95.  I still can’t believe I got it at such a great value.  Well last night I popped the cork on this baby and…

WOW!  This is a BIG bourbon.  It is 107 proof, so it has bourbon street cred with me already.  Its flavor profile is almost like its nose, with one huge difference, the nose on this bourbon gives no indication as to the voracity of the finish, or the amount of heat this bourbon gives.

I consider myself a pretty accomplished whiskey drinker, and the first sip I took of this bourbon literally almost took my head clean off.  I was thinking “Ok, my favorite house bourbon, Old Weller Antique, is also 107 proof, so how challenging could this be?”  WRONG.

The Van Winkles have again proven that no body makes bourbon as good as they do.  Well, lets talk a bit about this drink.  The nose is pure vanilla and caramel with just a hint of alcohol and a whiff of barrel oak.  Very nice.  It almost reminded me of a dessert cordial on the nose.

My first sip let me know that this is a SERIOUS bourbon.  It began sweet with the vanilla and caramel flavors front and center, then it got very spicy and hot, with a huge and long peppery finish.  Very nice.

There was one thing in particular that struck me about this bourbon, its consistency.  It poured like any other liquid, but it had very long and syrupy  legs to it.  When you ran it around your mouth it coated it unlike any other bourbon I’ve tried.  It was very thick and oily, which is a sign of a great bourbon, and this one certainly delivered.  Its consistency reminded me of pure Vermont maple syrup.  Kind of runny, but thick and viscous on the palate.

All in all this bourbon lives up to its hype.  We talk a lot around here about beer living up to its hype, well this is probably one of about 5 bourbons that are highly hyped, and it did not disappoint.  If you have the opportunity to buy this bourbon do so, and quick.  It is my understanding that they will no longer be making it, so once all the barrels are sold, it will be gone forever.  I’m glad I got some.

-Don

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27 Comments on “Pappy Van Winkle 15: There Is No Place Like…Vermont?”

  1. John Joyce
    May 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Angel’s envy who? Now we’re talking!

    • Don
      May 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      Ah, John, there is room in the whiskey world for both, and both are special in their own way. Didn’t you ever watch Mr Rogers? I like them just the way they are! 😉

  2. May 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Pappy’s is a mean fu….er… doggone whiskey. A local brewery ages their porter in PVW barrels and it’s amazing.

    • May 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      Today, the Bull and Bush brewpub in Denver is releasing their latest “Legend of the Liquid Brain” stout, which is aged for over a year on PVW 23 year barrels.

      I tried this once at a beer fest and it was just as incredible as it sounds. Apparently they don’t even put this beer on the menu. You have to know to ask for it.

      Sadly, I won’t be making this release, but I encourage every other Denverite to do so.

      • Don
        May 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

        Hope there is some left for you Alex. Maybe you could get a tulip of it tomorrow or Friday.

    • Don
      May 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

      Sounds good, but those barrels will become a thing of the past too, once the supply finally runs out.

      • May 18, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

        Just like the beer…once I drink it.

  3. May 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I’m glad you finally got to try this one. I prefer the 15 to the 20 (for similar reasons we talked about when comparing OF Signature to Woodford) but have yet to try the 23. Enjoy the bottle!

    • Don
      May 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

      The 20 and the 23 are a bit too rich for my blood. I might have to forgo them, but at least I got a taste of the 15. Many people say it is the best of the lot anyway, so I don’t think I will be too disappointed if I never try the 20 or the 23.

  4. May 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    I love this burbon, we actually have the 23 yr old one where I work. Really really good.

    • Don
      May 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

      I’ve heard from those who have tried it that the 23 gets really woody, and is an “acquired” taste. I’d like to “Acquire” a bottle and “Taste” for myself however! But the 15 was top shelf all the way.

  5. johnking82
    May 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    I was waiting for where you correlated the bourbon with Vermont, a state I love and vacation at ( snoody nose in the air!) but choose to drink the beer instead of ski. I thought it would talk about you getting toasted and craving waffles.

    Damnit…do I have to go buy this and hide it from the wife…there goes that Keggle purchase. Good review.

    • May 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      I vacate in VT as well and get down with some of the rowdy brews from that state.

      • johnking82
        May 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

        Check out my Hops for the Holidays series under my “beer reviews”, I went on a 40+ beer rampage during a week involving VT, MA, and NH. We stay in Mad River Glen and The Alchemist, Harpoon, and Burlington are a hope skip and a jump. Very impressed with Hills Farmstead.

      • Don
        May 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

        Daniel, I could see you and the Vermonster going 12 rounds! I’m pretty sure the Vermonster would kick your Ginger Ass!

        • May 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

          No way. I have a great relationship with barleywines. And a handful stowed away. We actually brewed our F—Monster Smoked Habanero Imperial Stout in honor of the big Vermonster/Monster energy drink dispute. Go Rock Art!

        • John King
          May 19, 2011 at 7:29 am #

          I love the Vermonster…cheap too if I recall.

        • Don
          May 19, 2011 at 9:58 am #

          I haven’t had it, but Jim says it is a really hoppy barleywine. More my style than the cloyingly sweet variety.

    • Don
      May 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

      Thanks John, and yes, you have to go buy this and perhaps try “Sharing” it with your wife…who knows, if she has one too many (which for this bourbon would be like one) you might get lucky. 🙂

  6. May 18, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Great review Don! I’ve had some Pappy Van Winkle in the past, and you’re right, it’s outstanding! Now about that maple syrup bottle…

    Our buddy Max occasionally goes in with friends on hard to find (and expensive) whiskies, usually with one or two other people. When they divide up the whisky, they use empty maple syrup bottles. We had this massive tasting party a couple years ago, and he had to have at least 10 maple syrup bottles of whisky with handwritten labels taped on them. We laughed at first. But then we started sampling. He’s been Miracle Max ever since. 🙂

    • Don
      May 19, 2011 at 9:54 am #

      Maple Syrup…It’s not just for breakfast any more!

  7. May 19, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    Don – Glad to see you finally opened that bottle. I’ve thankfully bunkered away a number of the PVW 15 yr as well as the 20 yr. Van Winkle makes a very nice line of bourbons but the 15 is one of my favorite. I have a bottle open that has a single pour left and I struggle with killing it off.

    • May 19, 2011 at 8:24 am #

      And I bet that once you do finish that PVW 15, it will be a very memorable moment. Why is is that the last dram is always the best tasting? Had the last bits of my bottle of Highland Park 18 last night. Was sad to see it go, but on the bright side, I just made room for something new.

    • Don
      May 19, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      I have several like that Greg, and it isn’t even hard to find stuff. Something about killing a bottle just feels like th moment needs to be right.

  8. matt c
    May 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    I have been hooked on the Glenlivet Nadurra for awhile now, and have been looking for a new whiskey to try. Pappy’s looks really good. I can’t find it on the web, though. I see some on ebay, but those are over $100.

    It looks like the 10 y.o. is more available, so for $30 I might just have to try a bottle of that.

  9. Greg B
    May 19, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    They aren’t making anymore of the 15?? Any idea why not? Its always been one of the best and more difficult to find, truly a classic bourbon.

  10. May 20, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Truly sad to see this go. I used to buy it as regularly as possible when I lived in KY. Guess I should have saved some instead of swilling it down. It really is a world class bourbon.

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