“Special selection, limited edition” is the first thing you need to know about this brand. The Pappy Van Winkle brand is a known and a very exclusive bourbon whiskey producer. They make small batches of bourbon, each exquisitely unique and very pricy.
The Pappy Van Winkle brand story is a typical success story, filled with hard work and many ups and downs. Julian Pappy Van Winkle was 18 years old when he started working in a distillery, where he mastered the craft, not knowing what lay ahead of this employment.
He worked as a salesman at W.L Weller & Sons. Fifteen years later, he and another salesman of the same company bought the firm and thus began the journey that led the brand to what it is today.
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Their tough break came with the prohibition when alcohol was banned from the USA. Luckily, they managed to acquire a license to sell whiskey, and they kept the company afloat.
However, during their long years of existence, the company faced different obstacles in terms of ownership and profits, but today, it has managed to remain in the Winkle family.
They are now partners with Buffalo Trace distillery, which distills the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. These bourbons live up to their name, as they are made of wheat mash instead of rye. This way of making results in a smoother bourbon with a refined flavor and a wide variety.
The Pappy Van Winkle brand produces seven Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, each differing in age and flavors. They sell exceptionally good spirits under their label, which are on the way steeper end in terms of prices.
In the following article, I will list the Puppy Van Winkle bourbons, or Puppy Van Winkle Reserves, and discuss their flavors, quality, the aging process, and prices.
Also Check: 25 Best Sipping Bourbons to Drink Neat
The Pappy Old Winkle brand has seven types of bourbon. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Yr., Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Yr., Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Yr., Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 13 Yr., Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 12 Yr., Old Rip Winkle 10 Yr., and Old Rip Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 25 Yr.
Even though all Pappy Van Winkle bourbons are different and unique in their own right, they are all bonded by the Buffalo Trace distillery quality and Pappy Von Winkle’s diligence. They are all rich, smooth, and exceptionally refined.
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In a nutshell, the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons have fruity sweetness and hints of vanilla, dried fruit, and toffee. On the nose, you can feel raisins, oak, vanilla, and cinnamon notes. The finish of these bourbons is long, smooth, and long-lasting.
The Pappy Van Winkle bourbons have a high viscosity and layer the palate and throat nicely, preparing you for each next sip. Because with each sip, you have a new layer of bourbon, each time, it tastes somewhat different, exhibiting new and undiscovered taste notes and aromas.
The color of the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons is amber. The shades are rich and green, making you think you have a jar of sweet honey in front of you.
From the color to the finish, everything about the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons says style, exclusiveness, and elegance.
The first thing you need to know is that the Buffalo Trace distillery takes enormous care in making the Pappy Van Winkle labels. The best evidence for this diligence and care is the aging process, which takes significantly longer than for most of the other brands.
Aged from ten to twenty-five years in charred American oak barrels, the Pappy Van Winkle spirit expressions have fairly made a name among the smoothest and most refined spirits in their category. During the aging period, a ridiculously large amount of bourbon evaporates, cutting off a huge bourbon chunk. The portion that evaporates is popularly called the Angel’s share.
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With this significant amount of liquid evaporated from the barrels, all you are left with is a high viscosity and thick bourbon, with a sweet honey-like flavor and seductive flavors and aromas.
In the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon production process, the Buffalo Trace distillery uses wheated bourbon, which instead of a rye or barley blend, which is why the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon is of exceptional quality.
Wheated bourbon is bourbon made entirely of wheat, and it is said to be much smoother than the other grain-blend bourbons.
Also, the Buffalo Trace distillery has an ace up to its sleeve. The distillers use Kentucky limewater before bottling the bourbon. The Kentucky limewater additionally purifies the spirit, increasing its quality.
Each Pappy Van Winkle label has its own specificities containing uniquely packed magic, but overall, the production process is more or less unified up to a large extent. The particularities of each label are mainly in the aging process.
Each Pappy Van Winkle bourbon has a unique taste, but they are all bonded by the brand’s signature flavor.
First of all, each bottle is characterized by smoothness and high viscosity, making it incredibly pleasant on the nose, palate, and throat. Each sip is full-bodied and complex, with the recognizable spiciness of the brand.
The aging period makes these bourbons very substantial, complete, and deep. The flavors are mainly dominated by spiciness, oak, and smokiness, but also dried fruits and nuts.
The finish is so smooth that it is almost buttery. Depending on which Pappy Van Winkle you try, you will feel other flavor notes such as vanilla, chocolate, nuts, etc., but the oak, spices, and smoke are a mandatory elements of each bottle.
However, many have described these bourbons as too aggressive in flavor with a finish that is too dry. This isn’t necessarily true, as how you perceive these bourbons is by large determined by your knowledge and experience in the bourbon department.
Therefore, the Pappy Van Winkle brand doesn’t care about selling large quantities which can reach to just anybody. Instead, their attention revolves around small high-quality batches that are affordable and available only to a carefully selected audience that knows how to appreciate this fine alcohol.
The Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Yr is elegant with a sweet aroma of caramel corn and vanilla. It has a noticeable flavor of oak and leather and an overall complex profile enveloped in fruitiness. It finishes smooth with a lingering aftertaste.
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Yr is seductive and intense. It has a noticeable citrus zest note, mixed with whiffs of sherry, vanilla, and dried fruits. Expectedly, the finish is smooth, long, and elegant.
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Yr has hints of caramel and cream. On the palate, it has notes of oak, leather, and nuts. It is overall sweet with whiffs of vanilla, maple, and honey, accompanied by citrus and spice flavors.
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 yr has a gentle aroma of spice, vanilla, fruit, and chestnuts. Mid-palate, it is warm and sweet, hinting at cocoa, vanilla, and white pepper. It finishes on a high note of caramel and dry oak.
Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr has gentle aromas of mango, spiced peach, and cocoa. Mid-palate, it tastes like honey, tobacco, and oak. It has a balanced, smooth, and tender finish with a lingering aftertaste.
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Yr has a sweet vanilla aroma, interlaced with caramel, oak, and pecan. On the palate, it is mellow, smooth, and cherry-flavored with notes of oak. It has a naturally smooth finish hinting at spices, oak, and fruit.
Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy’s Family Reserve 25 Year is a spirit dominated by oak and honey. As the jewel of the Pappy Van Winkle brand is the most expensive one and the hardest one to find. Mid-palate it has vanilla and smoke notes, and it ends with a velvety smooth finish.
Bottle Sizes and Prices
Pappy Van Winkle is the incarnation of the saying, “all the good things come in little packages.” They conserve their products and don’t flair them around but keep them in small elegant quantities of just 750 ml.
As I already mentioned, these are small-batch bourbons that are very restricted, and it does feel like a privilege when you manage to find one, let alone buy it. The brand sells style, rather than just bourbon, and therefore the more exclusive they are, the more attractive they are.
The brand explicitly shows that they don’t sell their bourbons to just anybody, but just true bourbon lovers who don’t mind spending the big bucks on bourbon.
Their price range moves from steep $800 for a bottle of 750 ml. to whooping $17.000 per a 750 ml. bottle. So let’s see exactly how much each Pappy Van Winkle bourbon costs.
|Type of Bourbon
|Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Yr
|Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Yr
|Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Yr
|Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 yr
|Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr
|Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Yr
|Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy’s Family Reserve 25 Year
As unreal as these prices seem, they are indeed a sign of good business, which is why Pappy Van Winkle is one of the best-operating and most successful bourbon brands on the market. These prices are just a rough representation, and you should consider them only as a price guide because they vary from country to country and from store to store.
The reason why the prices are not the same everywhere is that different states impose different taxes and different rules on selling luxury alcohol brands, such as this one. However, the prices don’t vary by much, so be prepared to pay good money for these bourbons, as they certainly don’t come cheap.
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The word on the street is that the Pappy Van Winkle is such an expensive brand because it is exceptionally high-quality. That is most certainly true, but it isn’t the only reason these bourbons are this pricy.
Namely, the Pappy Van Winkle brand has an excellent business strategy which is the embodiment of the saying “less is more.” In this case, the less bourbon they sell, the more money they make, in a way.
The exclusiveness of the brand, the 750 ml. bottles, the refinement and elegance of the packaging, and restrictiveness in the access to these products play an even more significant part in the price of these products.
The entire image of the Pappy Van Winkle brand creates a particular mystery about the products. Not that they are secretive about it, but because they don’t sell to anyone. The price more or less defines the consumer profile they choose to do business with.
The regular Joe would definitely think ten times before buying the cheapest $800 per 750 ml. bottle and wouldn’t even dare to dream of buying the $17.000 one.
Moreover, the brand makes far more profit by producing less bourbon and selling it to fewer customers for high prices than by making more and selling it widely for lower prices.
Furthermore, a significant amount of bourbon evaporates during the aging process, which is why they need to sell it for steeper prices because otherwise, it will have gone to waste.
Also, they use very expensive distilling methods, causing additional and substantial production costs.
In summation, the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons are a high investment and high return products that require a lot of attention, care, diligence, and resources to be made. The brand’s business policy is also a tremendous impacting factor on the price.
Buying a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon does not only mean you will have bourbon, but you will become a part of a very restrictive elite.
How Much Does a Bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Cost?
The prices of the Pappy Van Winkle vary, but a bottle is never cheap. The cheapest bottle under the Pappy Van Winkle brand, Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Yr, costs about $800 per 750 ml, which isn’t cheap at all, but it isn’t absolutely unaffordable. However, the most expensive Pappy Van Winkle bourbon bottle, Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy’s Family Reserve 25 Year, costs an incredible $17.000 per 750 ml. bottle.
As I already mentioned, these prices may vary depending on the location, but don’t expect any miracles. If anything, it is more possible that the price will be higher in certain places than lower.
How Much Does a Shot of Pappy Van Winkle Cost?
Even as a shot, the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon isn’t cheap; in fact, it is the farthest from cheap as possible. A shot of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon can cost you anywhere from $80 to $300. This bourbon is indeed limited, and it is very hard to get it.
Moreover, if you do manage to find it, you will have to pay a lot to get it. So, you will probably get a shot at an upscale bar, as the ordinary pubs don’t keep these types of alcohol. Therefore, the price is such that you need to save for some time to be able to get a shot of this premium bourbon.
Still, a shot of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon is not the same as just any bourbon. You will be paying more, but you will be getting more too.
Regardless of which Pappy Van Winkle shot you have, it will still be smooth, rich, and delicious. All bottles have a complex flavor profile and are abundantly playful and delightfully colorful.
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However, if you can afford it, indulge yourself, even if it is with only one shot. You will be glad you did. You will not only be getting a shot of a high-end bourbon but a shot of a high-end lifestyle. Having a shot of Pappy Van Winkle is having a taste of the finer things in life, inspiring you to strive for more.
How Is a Bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 10-Year-Old?
A bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 10-Year-Old is the cheapest one of the Pappy Von Winkle’s spirit expressions. It goes for about $800 per 750 ml. bottle.
How Much Is a Pour of Pappy 23-Year-Old?
When a bottle of bourbon has aged for 23 years, you can’t expect that it will go cheaply. A bottle of this bourbon goes for about $3000 per 750 ml, whereas a pour is about $425 per 1.5 ounces quantity.