Saturday, February 5, 2011

M.I.A. Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year

It wasn't too long ago I could walk into a liquor store and see Pappy Van Winkle (PVW) 15 year or the 20 year sitting on the shelves leading to a laissez-faire attitude about future purchases. Snap…..all gone. I've been on the hunt for some time looking for PVW15 and going so far as to call a liquor store in South Carolina that I've purchased from in the past to check on their stock; no luck. A bourbon buddy in Maryland shot me an e-mail and said "I have pappy's for you if and when you need them. I got your back brother." Thank you my brother!

First, let's talk about Pappy Van Winkle just a little. I did a review of the 15 year last April and mentioned in the post that it was difficult to find but now it's near downright impossible. The 20 and 23 year bottling contain Stitzel Weller bourbon but the 15 year may be questionable. Julian Van Winkle posted on a bourbon site that the bottles with Pappy's picture on it are SW bourbon. But then there are conflicting statements that it's a blend of SW and either Bernheim or Buffalo Trace wheat bourbon. In fact, it's been reported that Julian used Buffalo Trace juice around 2007 because of a shortage of SW 15 year. To me it doesn't make a difference because it's tasty bourbon and that's what's important.

So what happened to PVW15? Time, that's what happened. Stitzel Weller stopped production in the summer of 1992. So, do the math and that places the last 15 year at 2007. Julian states that he did a mass bottling of PVW 15 (that contained 15 and 16 year old bourbon) and has slow rolled the release which means he's at the end of that bourbon run. Enter Buffalo Trace wheat bourbon?

Jason over at Sourmashmanifesto reports that Julian has advised the next release of Pappy 15 will be this spring. There are also unconfirmed reports that this will be the last drop and the next release in the fall of this year will be Old Rip Van Winkle (ORVW) 15 year and will more than likely not contain SW bourbon. For those in the know, ORVW 15 is the predecessor to Pappy Van Winkle 15 and also contained SW bourbon. Confused yet? So it appears Buffalo Trace will re-release the ORVW 15 year, but again let me caveat that this is unconfirmed.

Finally, with the absence of PVW15, I went on the hunt for PVW20 and was able to secure 4 bottles. This too is starting to disappear. A store manager at a local liquor store made the comment to a friend of mine that he's had PVW20 sitting on the shelves for months on end and then all of a sudden, it's flying off the shelves and is now almost gone in my state. If you're a lover of PVW15, keep your eyes peeled for spring as that may very well be the last allotment of this label.

37 comments:

  1. i'm surprised you even found the 20yo this late. here in texas, the orvw 10, lot b, 15, 20 and 23 from last fall are long gone. i will be stocking up on the 15, 20 and 23 this spring and hoping that the new orvw 15 is as good as the pvw 15. ah, the trouble and energy we go to for our bourbon!

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  2. Greg, great post as always man. It's truly a sad thing to see this fantastic whiskey going the way of the dodo bird. I've been able to find 1 bottle of 15, and i am looking for more. I hadn't panicked yet on 20, but apparently I need to.

    For whatever reason I've had the most success locating 15 in the smaller shops. I found a bottle in a small shop in Knoxville. I've heard others inform me they found 2-3 bottles in a small shop in Johnson City, TN. Things like that.

    It's the really great stores that usually get all the new releases first that are the last place to find any 15.

    Here's hoping March/April will bring some more bottles to the masses for one last run.

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  3. I love Pappy 15 and have been fortunate to find a number of bottles over the last year. Regardless of whether or not it's SW, it's one of my favorites and if I ever see more, I'm buying it. Pappy 20 is still available here but I can't get myself to spend $100 on it. It's very good, but to me, not better than the 15 so I pass them up. Besides, that leaves me more money to spend on VWFRR (when I can find it).

    By the way, I really like the new style of your web site.

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  4. JWC - I surprised but thankful to find the 20 year so I'm snatching those up as I find them. The 20 year I believe will be making an exit within the next couple of years. Again, doing the math, 2012 is 20 years from distillery closure. Julian has done an awesome job with the Van Winkle line of bourbons so no doubt the following ORVW 15 (if that's really what's going to be released in the fall) will no doubt be just as good.

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  5. Thanks Jason. I think stocking up on the 15 and 20 is wise if you're a lover of this brand. I've got my name on a number of lists in various stores so my hope is that the spring release will yield me at least a couple of bottles of the 15. We'll see.

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  6. Gary - I know $100 is a little steep to pay for the 20 year but my attitude is that at that price today, it's the cheapest it's going to be. Try to find it next year I believe it will be more. Come 2013 and you may not find it at all. As for the VWFRR, I'm in total agreement, buy all that you can. For about $50 (which is about what I pay currently) you're buying 19 year old rye whiskey so it's a fantastic deal today.

    Thanks for the feedback on the new look. I like how it turned out.

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  7. Damn you Greg! You're going to get me to spend that money on Pappy 20 yet. :)

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  8. Ha ha, my dastardly plan has taken effect!

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  9. I've managed to find PVW15 at Total Wine & Spirits, a "discount" liquor store. I use the term "discount" loosely because they have great prices on wine but not so friendly on bourbon. The PVW15 is fetching $70 there and the PVW20 is $119. Tough to negotiate w/ corporate-owned stores like that one so I've steered clear but now may need to add a few bottles or look around for a cheaper source! Thanks for the info

    I also like your new look. I got some complaints when I switched my site to the blck background but I like it. And it's my site so there :P

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  10. You win Greg. Bought 2 bottles of Pappy 20 today. Depending on what comes out in the next month or so (Pappy 15?, VWFRR?), I may end up buying more. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW! :)

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  11. Yes, I win. Thank you very much.

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  12. I was told by local stores that the Pappy only gets released in Sep-Oct. Do they usually do a spring release?

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  13. That's my understanding also but I've heard through a couple of sources that Julian will do a Spring release this year.

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  14. I've succeeded in hoarding several cases of PVW product. I'm curious if anyone has a good beat on the ten digit code on the bottle. Specifically the meaning of the first four digits.

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  15. Thanks for the post and info. You can find bottles on eBay , expect to pay $150 for a bottle 15 yo PVW

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  16. Jim - Oh I know the prices have gotten stupid. A PVW 20 just sold last week on ebay for $227. Too bad such a great bourbon is so impossible to find. Supposedly Fall is the next release.....we'll see.

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  17. PVW 15 and PVW20 are all gone in Los Angeles. none. only 23 is left. :(

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  18. Dish - it's not surprising you can't find it. I don't think anything has been released since last year. There was supposed to be a Spring 2011 release but don't think that happened.....at least not here in the DC market. November is the next scheduled release date so keep your eyes peeled. I would suggest that if you do find it, grab all you can.

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  19. There was a spring release of 15 and 20 at least in MD and DE. However, it was MUCH smaller than the the normal fall release size.

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  20. Insanity has hit the Chicago area. In the last week I was at 2 locations of a certain liquor store chain and each had a bottle of the 20 for $199.99. They also had the 23, but for $224, which is very competitve around here. All the other bourbons were priced in line with other liquor stores, it was just the Pappy 20 that was nuts.

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  21. You're right...insane. Of course if you troll ebay you'll see that same bottle sells north of $200. I went hunting last Fall for PVW20 and found 5 bottles near me in Maryland. They all ran about $85 each which at the time I thought was a little pricey. Guess I was lucky to pay that. I also found Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (another great whiskey) for $55 each. Needless to say, 4 of those bottles came home also.

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  22. I bought another Pappy 20 for $96 a couple of weeks ago and have a line on more if I'm interested. This bourbon has really grown on me, I just have to remember to have it before drinking any higher proof whiskey so that it's nuances don't get lost. Will you be a character witness for me at my divorce hearing?

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  23. Gary - Nice going on finding the Pappy 20 (or any Pappy for that matter). Those are getting almost impossible to find. I would highly encourage you to go back and grab a couple more bottles to bunker away or else you'll be kicking or punching yourself later for not doing that. As for your wife..... a wise person once said it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission. At least I think a wise person said that.

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  24. Dish - Sorry to let you know, but I think I just bought the last 2 bottles in the LA area (Whittier). I lucked out by calling all the local shops in my area. The shopkeep had no idea how scarce the 15 is. (BTW, try calling total wine in fullerton, they were going to try to get some.)

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  25. I found a couple of bottles of 23 in the NY area.

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  26. Nice finds but I bet those were a pretty penny. I've only purchased one PVW23 and that was a group barrel purchase a number of years back....still haven't opened it but this Christmas may be as good a time as any.

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  27. Just bought a bottle of 23 year old at a small liquor store in Chicago yesterday. Cost me $ 325.00 total
    They claim that they have a good line on 15 year

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  28. Any word on next release? Rumors of a spring release??

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  29. I've heard zippy about a next release. I wonder though with PVW15 now BT Wheat mashbill if they have enough to support two releases a year?

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  30. BT Wheat mashbill ?

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  31. The last release of PVW15 was not Stitzel Weller but bourbon from BT.

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  32. Greg, i'm assuming you're the guy stalking the MoCo store's in the area and hoarding all of the PVW20's and PVW23's.

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  33. Not I! Especially when they limit you to one of each. I did pick up a PVW 15 a couple months back but that's been it.

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    1. Well suffice it to say, the prices outside of Montgomery Co. are quite outrageous The15(BT Juice) at 80-90 a bottle, PVW20 at 120-130 a bottle, and good grief PVW23 at 250-300 a bottle. I heard a rumor that the MoCo Liquor Board offices had six bottles of the 23 which was never released to the public at all this spring. I can only base the MoCo prices from 3 years ago which was the last two bottles i bought from them, 15th at $40, 20th at $75 and 23rd at $180.

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    2. Back in 2010, I called one of stores and asked what the price would be for PVW15 with the case discount. $32.78 each.

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    3. Looking back and getting a discount on Pappy seems ridiculous now.

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    4. Yah, but wasn't it nice to get it while it was available?

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