Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is the flagship brand of bourbon whiskey owned by the “Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery” company and often regarded as one of the finest bourbons in the world, and is rare to find on the market due to its very low production and high demand.
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is owned by the “Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery” company (which does not actually own or operate a distillery, but rather has it produced under a contract with another company). It is distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Co., at its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
As posted on Wikipedia, Julian Preston Van Winkle III, said the 2013 bottling of the 23-year brand expression “may be the last of its kind”, since at that point there was very little left of the aging stock from the Stitzel-Weller distillery (although he said the brand would not be discontinued).
The makers say that they do not want to boost production, as there is considerable long term risk, and they do not want to be left holding copious quantities of unsaleable bourbon should tastes, fashions or circumstances change.
We’re not exaggerating while Pappy’s annual production is in the thousands of cases. The most-sought Pappy, a 23-year-old Family Reserve, trickles out a scant 3,000 bottles. Production is being increased somewhat, with a projected increase of the annual production from the current 6–8 thousand bottles to 15 thousand by 2025, but the production will remain well below mass-market levels.
Style of Bourbon
Like all modern bourbons, the Style of Van Winkle bourbons are made primarily from corn and aged in charred new oak barrels. A distinguishing feature of Van Winkle bourbons is their use of wheat as the secondary ingredient instead of the usual rye, and their additional inclusion of barley malt.
Pappy Van Winkle is aged for 15, 20 or 23 years, which is considerably longer than the aging period for most bourbons. The 20 year is bottled at 90.4 U.S. proof (45.2% alcohol by volume) and has been described as “intensely fruity”. The 15 year is bottled at 107 proof. The 23 year is bottled at 95.6 proof.
Now getting your hands on a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle is effectively impossible.
Drinking Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve bourbon, aged 15 to 23 years, is one of the harder things you can do in a bar. The stuff is very hard to get and extremely expensive. “we’re talking thousands of dollars a bottle”.
So what’s the workaround? Drink a different bourbon, preferably one that comes close in either composition (Pappy uses wheat instead of rye as its secondary grain, for a somewhat sweeter taste), age, rarity, or — holiest of all holy grails — contains alcohol distilled or aged at the now-extinct Stitzel-Weller distillery in Kentucky. While you’re waiting for that totally not-fake number, consider one of these alternatives.”
Flight of Pappy Van Winkle Alternatives
So how do you drink a whiskey like Pappy without drinking Pappy? What other bourbon tastes the most like Pappy Van Winkle? We turned to many blogs of bourbon masters, author of Bourbon Curious and Bourbon aficionados. A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker and a group of peers recently conducted a blind tasting to answer that same question: The results were surprising.
There are typically two major traits used to compare bourbons: mash bill (the percentages of grains mixed together) and age (the amount of time it spends in the barrel). Most bourbons use corn and rye, but Pappy relies on wheat instead of rye. Pappy is also aged 10 to 23 years, depending on the bottle, making it significantly older than most bourbons on the market.
Here in Addis Cafe at 105 S. 4th Street Specialty Bourbon Bar and Coffee shop we carry quality Bourbons that are recommended by Bourbon aficionados as alternatives to Pappy Van Winkle. We sell by the package to go, serve individual drinks and demonstrate Bourbon tasting events known as Bourbon Flight
To participate in the upcoming Bourbon tasting events known as Bourbon Flight, follow us at addisgrill@twitter