Like many on this thread, I am a big fan of aged wheaters, Van Winkles in particular. As I've stated before, I developed my taste for bourbon during my youth by raiding my Pappy's stash of a seemingly endless supply of Old Fitzgerald and other Stitzel-Weller product. I discovered Pappy 15 back in the good old days when Van Winkle products actually made it to the shelves, and my first Pappy 15 made my toes curl with delight. This BOTM is somewhat timely as I was nearing the end of a Pappy 15 I had opened as a vacation treat last summer (probably purchased in Fall of 2011, the last time I was able to find any for sale, but could have been older as I haven't noted the when/where on my purchases). I like this bottle of Pappy 15 just fine, but it doesn't make my toes curl.
So as it's BOTM, I got a bit serious, and had the Mrs. arrange a SBS test, first with Wellers--a 12yo, Antique 107, & WLW. She diluted them to the same strength as necessary. Wasn't really blind as I knew what four I was tasting, and it was really no problem sorting them out, topped by that Pappy 15 tasting better than ever--great complexity, mouth feel, finish. Yum (a symphony of flavors, to borrow from the post above).
A few days later she set up another test for me with Van Winkles--a Lot B and an Old Rip 10/90--plus the WLW. (She was so amused by this routine that she snapped a photo--attached.) This time I got all confused, again thinking my favorite was the Pappy 15, but it was actually the Lot B (the Pappy 15 was runner-up and I even favored the Old Rip to the WLW). Not too big a surprise as I've had some honey Lot Bs in the past that have made my toes curl.
If given the opportunity (such as being selected in a store lottery or being looked upon with favor by a favorite retailer), I'll probably still pick up a Pappy (or a Lot B) at a premium price, but I won't embark on an odyssey to find them as I did in 2011. Aren't we in the midst of a whiskey renaissance? For prices at or below a Pappy's, I can go to my big Binny's (and elsewhere) and choose from many marvelous bottles--and without jumping through any hoops.