Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Alive! Pappy!

Pappy is alive! A local liquor store called me yesterday evening to inform me that they have......(drum roll please) bottle with my name on it. Yes, I'm thankful but really? One bottle? Ok, guess they have to make sure everyone on the list gets one. I dropped in last fall and asked to be put on the waiting list so kudos to the store for following through and giving me a call. Now if I can just get the same call from the 6 other stores that have my name.

There's another store that has a small allotment of Van Winkle Family Reserve 12 year (Lot B). This is another wheat bourbon expression but the price is silly; $47. I would like to add a couple bottles to the bunker but for that price, I'm getting slightly younger barrel strength offerings. Guess I'll be passing on those.


  1. I put out the APBB (All Points Bourbon Bulletin) last week after local shops here in Miami got their score. At the only store I currently know of that got all 4 (12, 15, 20, 23) a woman showed up immediately and bought ALL of the 20yr... I scored a few bottles of 15yr and passed on 23yr. 15yr is fantastic stuff. Which did you get?

  2. I live in MD, and in Baltimore County I am having no trouble finding the 10, 12, 20, and 23 year offerings. But I have struck out on the 15 - and that's the one I am after. I've stopped by 4 of my best places and called another dozen or so but have had no such luck. And most of these places are telling me they have received their full allotment.

  3. Steve - Tonight I went and picked up the PVW15. I asked the store manager to keep me on the list in case he gets more in. I also went darkside and picked up an Amrut Fusion, Glenmorangie Original and Midleton Very Rare Irish. A good whiskey evening.

  4. Pat - the key is to keep looking and calling. I do that and eventually score something.

  5. Hey Pat, we're in the same boat in PA...everything but the 15 is available here. Go figure...

  6. Pat,

    Honeygo Wine & Spirits had some 20yr as of this morning. They are in Perry Hall. (410) 529-5500

  7. Greg:

    Was it a Virginia ABC store that has Pappy? ABC has told me it wont arrive until December.

  8. Ben - this was a store in Frederick, MD. It's rare if I buy in a VA ABC due to pricing and availability. In the past the only PVW I've seen in VA is the 20 year and VA rejected the 23 year due to pricing. If they carried the 15 year, that would be a first. Let me know what you find.

  9. I picked up the new 2011 fall 15, and the fall 2011 20 year old.

    After trying the new 15, it's very unimpressive. It's just missing that "wow" factor I get from other bourbons and ryes (Saz 18/GTS in particular!) I'm hoping the 20 is much better than this...

  10. The question I have is how does it compare to the previous releases of the PVW15, assuming you've had those? You're comment is interesting as I've heard from other sources that this release is noticeably different. In a recent interview, Preston Van Winkle make the statement that this years Fall release is all BT juice, not Stitzel Weller (UD).

  11. The fall 2011 20 year old sparkles in comparison to the fall '11 15 year old.

    The 15 is dull and alcoholic, the 20 is not woody, and has gobs more flavour and complexity even given the lower proof.

    All in all, I find both of them to be highly over-rated for the price.

  12. ....and the conversation continues. I've again talked to a number of fellow enthusiasts that have tried the latest release and all conclude this is a different mashbill. Not to say that the bourbon won't be tasty but there is a distinguishable flavor profile to Stitzel Weller bourbon that is now missing from the PVW15. Remember, taste is subjective so make your own judgement. SW bourbon is fast becoming a memory; if you want some look for the PVW 20 or 23 year or the Jefferson Presidential Select 17 or 18 year. That's about it.

  13. Tonight I did a head to head of the old(which thank god I still have about a half bottle of) and the new, and here is what I wrote down.

    Old Pappy 15 -

    Color - deep amber

    Nose - Big, round, classic Bourbon. Butterscotch, caramel and oak with some light fruity notes as well. Whiffs of good leather and light cigar smoke at the end.

    Mouth - (neat) HUGE. Immensely coating body. A seemingly perfect mix of the refined aged qualities and the classic raw bourbon character. The wheat recipe clearly adds a layer of complexity to the nose and taste. (it tastes just like it smells, but bigger)

    (with water) I'm sorry, I won't be putting a drop of water in any of the old Pappy I have left.

    Finish- Starts brilliantly clean on fresh charred oak but then there is an uplifting progression of sweet flavors. All types of fruits and candies. Immensely satisfying.

    New Pappy 15

    Color - deep amber (VERY slightly darker)

    Nose - Way different. Far more 1 dimensional. Too sweet with almost a damp wood smell to it. Seems either simple, or closed.

    Mouth - Much thinner feel to it and slightly hotter. Still good bourbon just not the stuff of legends. Tastes like sweet, tasty, good bourbon, but there is no real complexity at all.

    -no more notes due to disappointment that the old PVW 15 is gone.

    Conclusion - the REAL PVW 15 from SW distillery is one of the best bourbons ever made. It truly is the stuff of legends. It is everything bourbon should be. The new PVW 15 from Buffalo Trace falls WAY short. It is just similar enough to notice a slight similarity in taste, but it is very slight. I didn't want this to be the case, I really didn't, but it really is.

  14. Nice write up, thanks for sharing. You're conclusion is in line with others that have done a side by side (sbs) of the two. I had one friend note that the new PVW15 taste profile is similar to other wheat bourbons produced by Buffalo Trace; WLW (cut of course), OWA, Weller 12.

    I'm going to make one comment with respect to Stitzel Weller. True SW would be bourbon produced in 1972 and prior. That was the year it was sold to Norton Simon and then eventually sold to United Distillers (UD). The stuff in PVW15 was produced by UD which closed down in 1992. I believe the last couple of years of PVW15 were the result of the mass bottling by Julian back in 2007 and then released in small allotments starting in 2008.

    If anyone wants to still get their hands on SW (UD) bourbon, you're going to have to either find a dusty bottle or pick up the PVW 20 or 23 yr.

  15. Interesting info on the SW Greg. Thanks for the insight. Personally speaking, I'm much less concerned with attaining SW whiskey, and much more concerned with getting what I consider "real" Pappy (which happens to be SW/UD).

    I was under the impression though, that the still used at SW for the Pappy, even through the UD years, was designed by Pappy himself. Is that not the case?

    And a random PS. My grandfather who I never met was a loyal Old Fitz drinker until his death in 1980. I can only imagine how much of what you would refer to as "true sw" bourbon he put back without ever thinking it would be this hyped one day... or maybe he did... I don't know.

  16. I posted a blog some time ago about whether SW was hype or hero. I have both original SW bourbon as well as the follow on distillate from NS/UD. The further away you get from the original, the "less" appealing it is. Some of the last runs of Old Fitz BIB were average at best, IMO.

    I'll admit that I'm more concerned today about how a bourbon tastes rather than the provenance but that wasn't always the case as I chased labels because of their perceived greatness in my early collecting days.

    There's no argument that PVW15 is a fantastic whiskey but to some enthusiasts who like it for what's in the bottle, there is now something lacking in the new offering. Is it as good or worthy of the label and price? You be the judge.

    As for the still, mashbill, stave thickness or char level; I don't know what was used or not used after SW sold to NS. What we do know is that very good bourbon continued to be produced up until the demise of UD.

  17. "Is it as good or worthy of the label and price? You be the judge."


    The Judge

  18. I attended a Christmas party this past weekend and conducted a side by side of an '09 PVW (probably bottled in '07) and the current '11 bottling. the 2011 was thin, hot and moderate in appeal. The '09 was full of flavor, had a good mouthfeel and long finish. Two different whiskies for sure.

  19. I bought a case and a half of PVW-15 last spring. The bottle codes indicate 09 in the middle and the boxes both stated March 2009. Does anyone have an opinion if this wa the mass bottling of SW juice. Above a mass bottling is referenced as 2007. But it seems to me that the distributions in the spring and fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011 were from 2009 bottlings. Strikes me as a mass bottling of sorts since it lasted at least two years. I'll add that SW distillate from 1992 would be 15 years in the barrel in 2007. But a 15 year label is a minimum age statement. Could be a 16 year or 17 year product too. This is the case with the VW-13 year which contains up to 19 year juice as I've heard. Thoughts?

  20. If you bought a case of the last run, you done good. Information floating around on the various bourbon sites indicate Julian did a mass bottling in 2007 when the last SW run turned 15. Then over the last number of years, has been slowly releasing it. I tend to believe this is accurate as Pappy 15 availability dried up starting in 2008 and only became harder to find after that. As for the VWFRR, the bottle codes indicated how old the Rye was but again, the information is murky at best. It started out as 13 and then became older each subsequent year. I don't know if Julian is pulling from tanked Rye (e.g. Saz 18) or he has barrels he's pulling from. A discussion among some bourbon friends the other night touched on this subject; is VWFRR stock the same as Saz 18. We speculated not because they simply don't taste the same. I honestly don't know the age (well, at least 13) of the current VWFRR but a couple years ago Julian did mention that the rye was older so for a price of around $50, it was a bargain.