I really never thought I’d even get a sample of this legend, but I was graced with a bit from my friend, Sorin (a huge thanks to him!). The entire Van Winkle line is very elusive and extremely hyped, so I feel special getting this brief glimpse into history. It truly is a bit of liquid history as this juice hails from the famed Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which closed many years ago. It’s rumored to be in the plans for a re-opening, but the whiskey distilled there is highly sought after and almost depleted. Well, enough of the history and on to the whiskey.
The nose is full of toffee, caramel, straw, cocoa, dark cherry and a bit of cigar box. The flavors are massive! In general, its a hot whiskey with lots of spice, candied fruit, tart fruit and wood. It’s unlike anything I’ve had before. The finish is long and much less woody than I expected. The tastes up front are honey, vanilla, apple, cherry, gingerbread, pear, caramel, cocoa, lemon drop, fruit cake and tobacco. It’s nicely chewy on the palate with a nice spicy transition to the finish. Everything just merges together perfectly on the way to a mildly woody, but not leathery finish, while the subdued flavors persist in the background. This is one experience I wish I could extend!
Simply put, this is amazing stuff! I really hope I can land a bottle someday. I wasn’t expecting it to be this good, since hyped products rarely are. This is definitely an exception and I’ve heard that some people like the 20 Year Old and even the 15 Year Old better. Unbelievable! If you get a chance to taste a Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, then don’t pass it up! By the way, the price listed is suggested retail. If you can find a bottle (a big “if”), then you’re likely to pay much more.