Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pappy Van Winkles 20 Family Reserve - Review

If you buy a 20 year old bottle of Pappy Van Winkles Family Reserve you’ll be uncorking a beverage that went into the cask around 1989. Some of us were listening Paula Abdul was singing her first hit “Straight Up”. (Incidentally, that’s the only way to drink Pappy.) If you buy the 23 year old that’s when Eddie Murphy had his only hit song “Party All the Time”. If only we were wealthy enough that we could party all the time with Pappy Van Winkles 23. It is an absolutely exquisite bourbon from Old Rip Van Winkle distillery, a subsidiary of Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Aging for twenty long years is unusual for bourbon. Bourbons are usually aged considerably less time because: 1) they lose a lot of their volume to evaporation; and 2) an extra long aging process may not have as a positive effect. By design, Pappy has gracefully aged in heavily charred oak casks for lo these many years and if you’re lucky, it has come to a package store near you.

Last Saturday night was not the first time that I had tasted Pappy. It’s hard to believe that there is a substance on earth that could taste more like bourbon should taste than Pappy Van Winkles. It is indeed the bourbon by which all others should be judged.

When you unwrap your bottle of Pappy 20, the first thing you’ll notice is the unassuming, simple bottle and the deep amber red liquid inside. The bottle glistens with all the trappings of a 1989 Porsche 911. The nose is slightly floral, cherry and citrus. The taste is those things plus vanilla. The finish leaves you comforted and complete with no bitterness whatsoever.

Watering this bourbon will kill its unique qualities if you’re not careful, so I don’t recommend it.

For many experts, Pappy Van Winkles is the world's best bourbon. The Beverage Tasting Institute rates Pappy at 99 out of 100 points. So keep you eyes peeled for this rare find at your local liquor store, and heed the words of Warrant – “Heaven isn’t too far away”.


Steven said...

I just bought a new bottle of the 20. For $98, this is a real value. It's only a matter of time before the y wise up, like Balvenie did when it raised the 21 yr Port Wood to $160 from $100.

JM said...

Hey, I didn't know this was made by the Buffalo Trace people! You learn something new every day I guess. BT is an excellent bourbon in its own right, but nothing compared to the 20 year old pappy.

BTW, did you know that it can't be called bourbon unless its made in Kentucky? Now you know! And knowing is half the battle. Go Joe!!

Steve Sarsfield said...

Yeah, and if it's not Scottish, it ain't scotch. ;)

JM said...

And might I add the Jem is truly outrageous.