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BOTM 12/20 Pappy Van Winkle 15


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After last month's themed choice I was again looking for a bourbon that I could relate to this month's holiday. Nothing obvious came to me so I considered some ryes as they often have that Christmas spice note that some of you pick up. In the end I decided to go with something more personal.

I generally try to choose a BOTM that is accessible to most so we can get more participation but this holiday calls for something special so I made an exception.

 

I bought my first bottle of PVW15 in early December of 2013 and decided to save it for Christmas Day. Because of that I've always associated this particular expression with the Christmas season. Boy was that first sip something. Never tasted anything like it. A couple months after that first sip my brother in law was visiting. This is the brother in law I've mentioned before who introduced me to George T Stagg and Thomas H Handy the year prior that sent me over the deep edge bourbon enthusiasm. It was his first taste of PVW15 and he described it as 40 layers of caramel. That description has always stuck with me.

 

Anything PVW is hopelessly over hyped anymore (I know, stating the obvious) so I hesitated in choosing this one. I decided that the insanity outside our digital walls shouldn't influence what we decide to enjoy. Is PVW the best bourbon ever and worthy of the hype? No. It is damn good bourbon though and I still seek it out. I'm not willing to chase for it anymore like in my early days. If I get one, great. If not I have plenty of other great bourbon. I like it because it's unique in being an extra aged wheated bourbon. It's different. I like the sweetness as a change of pace, especially at Christmas. My current bottles of it don't live up to my memory of that first one. I don't know if it's because the current ones aren't as good (a popular theory) or if it's because nothing can live up to a cherished memory. Either way, they are still good and part of my Christmas tradition and that's good enough for me.

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The 15 yr was, and remains my favorite PVW.  A really good one has a light coconut essence buried in among the juicy burnt sugar and caramel, sweet wood, and summer rickhouse aroma notes.  The all-BT distillate is not on par with the SW distilled 15s, but that is an incredibly high bar to meet.  I feel that JVW 3 has shepherded this label quite well from a quality standpoint through the years.  IMO, it remains one of the top couple of bourbons released each year.  I grab any bottle I am offered even if priced somewhat beyond MSRP.  
 

Steve, I do totally understand the cherished memory aspect of a bourbon.  There is an Old Forester 86 proof that Troyce and I drank clean one day several years ago after taking a Friday off right before Christmas, and running around town going to SweetWater brewery, lunch at Manuel’s Tavern, and hitting several liquor stores doing some bourbon hunting.  It sat in the trunk of his Mercury Sable (The “Silver Bullet” ?) all day cooling off, and both of us agree to this day that it was one of the best whiskies we’ve ever had while finishing the day out by the outdoor fire and Mrssmokinjoe and Littlesmokinjoe laughing at our drunk asses.  ?. No OF 86 has been that good since, but that memory of a $14 bottle on a great day still gets me picking one up occasionally.  
Back to OVW 15, the Pappiez craze has unfortunately and honestly unnecessarily taken some shine off of PVW whiskies among many enthusiasts in our community, including me.  But, it is still a very, very, well made bourbon.  Especially, the 15 year.  

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The 15 is generally my favorite as well although sometimes the Old Rip 10 can be quite good and a bit easier to come by. I will likely never see another 23 (or 20 for that matter) at something close to retail because my store for good reason won't play the idiotic games of the local Saz rep or the distributors. And I sure as hell am not going to chase it anymore.

 

I have a few tucked away and when it is gone I certainly won't shed a tear for it. Probably!

 

While I know it is the same source from BT I also know Julian has his own profile he seeks out. I guess mine is different because given a choice I tend to prefer WLW anyway. 

 

Of course that is about as hard to get.

 

@$^*#*%$  flippers. 

 

And bloggers to some degree, Especially the "professionals".

 

?

 

OK, rant over! For a couple of minutes anyway...

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I've only had the 12, but the 15 has been the only PVW I've really wanted based on the reviews I've heard of it being more well-aged than the 20/23 due to them being "over-oaked".  Never tried and probably will never get the chance if this pandemic keeps up!  Solid choice though and will take everyone's word for the solidity of the PVW15.

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On 12/5/2020 at 1:14 PM, flahute said:

After last month's themed choice I was again looking for a bourbon that I could relate to this month's holiday. Nothing obvious came to me so I considered some ryes as they often have that Christmas spice note that some of you pick up. In the end I decided to go with something more personal.

I generally try to choose a BOTM that is accessible to most so we can get more participation but this holiday calls for something special so I made an exception.

 

I bought my first bottle of PVW15 in early December of 2013 and decided to save it for Christmas Day. Because of that I've always associated this particular expression with the Christmas season. Boy was that first sip something. Never tasted anything like it. A couple months after that first sip my brother in law was visiting. This is the brother in law I've mentioned before who introduced me to George T Stagg and Thomas H Handy the year prior that sent me over the deep edge bourbon enthusiasm. It was his first taste of PVW15 and he described it as 40 layers of caramel. That description has always stuck with me.

 

Anything PVW is hopelessly over hyped anymore (I know, stating the obvious) so I hesitated in choosing this one. I decided that the insanity outside our digital walls shouldn't influence what we decide to enjoy. Is PVW the best bourbon ever and worthy of the hype? No. It is damn good bourbon though and I still seek it out. I'm not willing to chase for it anymore like in my early days. If I get one, great. If not I have plenty of other great bourbon. I like it because it's unique in being an extra aged wheated bourbon. It's different. I like the sweetness as a change of pace, especially at Christmas. My current bottles of it don't live up to my memory of that first one. I don't know if it's because the current ones aren't as good (a popular theory) or if it's because nothing can live up to a cherished memory. Either way, they are still good and part of my Christmas tradition and that's good enough for me.

Steve:

 

Like you, my association with PVW 15 is circumstantial.  After my Mom died, my Dad and I went shopping for Bourbon, at his request.  We got a case of the ORVW 10/105 and a bottle of the PVW 15Y.  Off the shelf...at retail.  Sitting on his veranda with a cigar and sipping the Pappy 15, we connected in a way that never left me.  So, to me, the PVW 15 is special.  For health and other reasons, I have had to take a step back.  But when I need a sip of something special, I know where to go.

 

I love the balance of sweetness and oak, with the touch of vanilla and caramel.  Too bad it’s near impossible to get.  Every bourbon lover needs a bottle of this.  Or two.

 

EV

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The Black Tot

PVW15 has one of my favorite bourbon noses of all time. For me I think of it as a bourbon that drinks like a fine cognac - with a much higher ratio of nosing to tasting.  Small wonder that it suits Steve's Christmas reflections so perfectly.

 

The flavor reviews above are truly great, particularly smokinjoe's, and I don't have too much to add to that. 

 

The 15 (along with ORVW, which is probably my real favorite of the line) has what I consider to be the magic element for a wheater - 107 proof. I don't mean to suggest that 107 is perfect, just that 90 is too low for me to get the flavor concentration that allows the BT wheated recipe to punch right.

 

I've bought 2 23yrs, one 20yr, and a few Old Rips, but I've never had the chance to buy a 15. Like Bruce, i'd buy it if it came my way and wasn't too price-jacked, but I'm also not chasing it, so the offer isn't likely to be extended me for the next while. But y'all know me and the way I wring my hands at the recent biggest distillations of BT wheated ever in history...

 

I've got to try it at a few bars though, so I know what it's about - not like some of the vets above who have had the privilege to taste its evolution (or devolution) throughout the years. I'm excited to look for this coconut note next time I get a shot at it.

 

I'll keep entering the lotteries (not quite "chasing", not quite making NO effort...) and we'll see what happens. Would love to get on board with Steve's Christmas ritual. With how few Xmases I'm on land for, a single bottle should probably cover me for 20 years.

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Bourbon Boiler

I preferred the 20 and 23 year expressions unlike many on the board, but anyone complaining about the quality of the 15 is in the wrong hobby.  I agree that the hype has ruined the chase, but no reason this shouldn't be a BOTM.  Cheers! 

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This is just a lovely bourbon that I've had the fortune to enjoy many times over the years.  I haven't been able to buy one for quite some time but I have a lot of great memories enjoying pours of this with friends.  It's definitely not worth the current hype which all Van Winkle products are subject too now.  But it really is a very very nice pour.  If you are fortunate enough to have one this holiday season then it's a great bourbon to drink at year end while telling 2020 to f$@k off!

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I bought this last month at MSRP after winning it in a a charity raffle. I have never tasted it and based on the comments above I look forward to tasting on my birthday at the end of December with my family.

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This post brings an figurative tear to the ducts. Not because I can't get the stuff (or maybe that is it) but because I am a Christmas traditionalist and traditions should be personal not global. I have traditions that my kids will not let me change. Kind of funny that they hang on that way, but one tradition for me, is opening a bottle Christmas Eve. I haven't had the pleasure of PVW but the last 3 years have been OFBB, Blanton's Gold and a Makers Select.

 

I have had a pour of PVW15 on my 34 anniversary but unfortunately a pour really isn't a fair shake to my palate and I had a GTS that same night. The GTS won by 2 touchdowns...

 

One day, I will score the PVW15 and the tears could be literal; until then, I will live through Steve and the rest of the "Lucky Ones"...

Edited by bayouredd
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I also won a bottle of GTS 2020 at MSRP in the same charity raffle. I wondered how it matched up against Stagg Jr typically

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It's been a pretty long time since I've had Pappy 15, even though I have a couple in the bunker. Maybe I'll crack one when I retire. My palate on Pappy bottlings is about the same as my Weller palate. Probably different than most folks. :wacko: More often than not, I've preferred the ORVW 10 and lotB over Pappy 15 and 20. There were a couple of times years ago that I actually got to sample all but the Pappy 23. One of those times I was offered a Pappy 15 but opted for an ORVW 10. Another year I opted for a lotB. They all seemed to differ some from year to year. I can't comment on any of the newer bottlings because the only one I've purchased anywhere near recently was an ORVW 10 a couple of years ago. It was opened and finished rather quickly. :P  Just my thoughts, but in times past, I thought that Pappy 15 was the least consistent of the bunch. Like I said these are just my thoughts. YMMV, and probably does. :huh:

 

Biba! Joe

 

 

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17 hours ago, fishnbowljoe said:

 They all seemed to differ some from year to year. 

 

Biba! Joe

 

 

 

Glad to see I'm not the only one who notices this.

I see quite a bit of variance in ORVW each year.

I can tell you with certainty that I've tried them all from 2014-2019, and the 2016 and 2019 stand tall above the others.... in a splitting hairs sort of way.

2017 was the worst of the bunch, and 2018 was boring with muted flavors by comparison to the others.

 

Let's be honest though... I'm drinking all of it that's ever offered to me.

:) :) :) 

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2 hours ago, 0895 said:

 

Glad to see I'm not the only one who notices this.

I see quite a bit of variance in ORVW each year.

I can tell you with certainty that I've tried them all from 2014-2019, and the 2016 and 2019 stand tall above the others.... in a splitting hairs sort of way.

2017 was the worst of the bunch, and 2018 was boring with muted flavors by comparison to the others.

 

Let's be honest though... I'm drinking all of it that's ever offered to me.

:) :) :) 

I have also noted how ORVW can vary.

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2 hours ago, flahute said:

I have also noted how ORVW can vary.

Possibly. ? It was hard for me to tell early on because I found a store that carried ORVW 10/90. For a while I went back and forth between the 10/90 and 10/107. When I read that the 10/90 was going to be discontinued, I made a special trip to the previously mentioned store. They had two left and I bought them both. ? In hindsight,  I probably should have held on to one. Imagine how much that sucka would be worth today?  ?  FWIW, I still remember my very first Van Winkle, an ORVW 10/107. It was around 10 or 12 years ago, and my wife and I were on vacation in Florida. We stayed with good friends that had a place there. Mr. P and I finished that bottle off before the end of the week we were there. ?

 

Biba! Joe

 

 

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I’ve posted these pictures here before, but what the heck.^_^

 

Biba! Joe

 

image.thumb.jpeg.8f453c23aef64c3ea777a71da14f9bd7.jpeg

 

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image.thumb.jpeg.889e52c7ba53436be3ad9b0bd8ec2150.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CardsandBourbon

The PVW 15 is the only iteration I have (purchased at retail).  I have tasted the 10 & 12 in restaurants though.  Of those the 15 is the best.  Like others, I saved it to open on Christmas Eve when family and friends are here.   During the year I save some better bottles to open that day and enjoy with everyone.  Last year it was PVW 15, Old Fitz BIB 13 year, PHC Orange Curacao finished and Four Roses 2019 LE.  

 

I like the VW lines but don't plan on buying any, unless it's at retail or close to it.  The prices being charged are just not worth it.

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I have tried all of the line various times and particularly when prices were more reasonable. I remember finding a flight at a hotel in Louisville of the 15,20,23 for $35 for all three. Of course this was 2011 if memory serves. Of the iterations, the 15 is by far my favorite. I did manage a single bottle of it from the Party Source before the crackdown on shipping that took place. It is the only bottle in my bar that is actually saved for a specific purpose.  It is my retirement day bottle.  I did crack a 10/107 for my daughter’s high school graduation two years ago, and 3 Lot B’s over the last few years to celebrate promotions, both mine and my best friend’s. I even sacrificed a 20 for that same best friend’s housewarming when he bought his dream home a few years ago.  That 15 is all mine for that celebration though. It will of course be shared with a few friends and family, but the lions share pour will be in my Glencairn!

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CardsandBourbon
2 hours ago, BMartin42 said:

I have tried all of the line various times and particularly when prices were more reasonable. I remember finding a flight at a hotel in Louisville of the 15,20,23 for $35 for all three. Of course this was 2011 if memory serves. Of the iterations, the 15 is by far my favorite. I did manage a single bottle of it from the Party Source before the crackdown on shipping that took place. It is the only bottle in my bar that is actually saved for a specific purpose.  It is my retirement day bottle.  I did crack a 10/107 for my daughter’s high school graduation two years ago, and 3 Lot B’s over the last few years to celebrate promotions, both mine and my best friend’s. I even sacrificed a 20 for that same best friend’s housewarming when he bought his dream home a few years ago.  That 15 is all mine for that celebration though. It will of course be shared with a few friends and family, but the lions share pour will be in my Glencairn!

I like the idea of a retirement bottle.  I retired a couple of years ago and invited about 30 people to the house and we opened WTMK Decades and EC 18.  Luckily I didn't have to get up and go to work the next day.

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6 hours ago, BMartin42 said:

I have tried all of the line various times and particularly when prices were more reasonable. I remember finding a flight at a hotel in Louisville of the 15,20,23 for $35 for all three. Of course this was 2011 if memory serves. Of the iterations, the 15 is by far my favorite. I did manage a single bottle of it from the Party Source before the crackdown on shipping that took place. It is the only bottle in my bar that is actually saved for a specific purpose.  It is my retirement day bottle.  I did crack a 10/107 for my daughter’s high school graduation two years ago, and 3 Lot B’s over the last few years to celebrate promotions, both mine and my best friend’s. I even sacrificed a 20 for that same best friend’s housewarming when he bought his dream home a few years ago.  That 15 is all mine for that celebration though. It will of course be shared with a few friends and family, but the lions share pour will be in my Glencairn!

Priceless! ?

 

When’s retirement? ;)

 

Biba! Joe

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  • 2 weeks later...

I decided to have a pour of PVW15 this evening before responding to this thread since it’s been a bit since my last pour. PVW15 is a very good bourbon, but there are lots of very good, more readily available bourbons that I like just as much or more. I also agree with many of the other posters that PVW15 is the best of the line, but none of them are really worth chasing for or paying much of a premium over regular retail prices. 

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Almost exactly two years ago I celebrated a FF championship in a long running league with college friends with the final pour of a PVW15. 
 

Today I returned to the winners circle with another championship. With a small lead and Stefan Diggs going tonight I have been taking my victory lap early. Some W12 to start, then went to the Full Proof after touchdown one. Second TD was just icing and I moved onto the real celebration. 
 

I went into it looking for layers of caramel. But actually am just getting so many fruit notes throughout. As others have said, is it a great great bourbon. Maybe not worth the hype, (what is though?) but well deserving of the accolades. 

41026195-52B2-469C-8B35-2D9A79642F09.jpeg

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22 hours ago, Bob_Loblaw said:

Almost exactly two years ago I celebrated a FF championship in a long running league with college friends with the final pour of a PVW15. 
 

Today I returned to the winners circle with another championship. With a small lead and Stefan Diggs going tonight I have been taking my victory lap early. Some W12 to start, then went to the Full Proof after touchdown one. Second TD was just icing and I moved onto the real celebration. 
 

I went into it looking for layers of caramel. But actually am just getting so many fruit notes throughout. As others have said, is it a great great bourbon. Maybe not worth the hype, (what is though?) but well deserving of the accolades. 

41026195-52B2-469C-8B35-2D9A79642F09.jpeg

Congrats!

On the current iterations of PVW15 I don't get as much caramel as that first bottle I had in 2013. It's there but not as pronounced.

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I will certainly end this horrific year with a pour of PVW 15.  I think impression of PVW has somewhat suffered from the notoriety and hype.  People can’t get it so the taste is downplayed.  I’m on my fourth or fifth bottle of 15 (have one bunkered for retirement), and have gone through at least one bottle of all the other regular VW releases.

 

Every time I have a pour I am reminded how exquisite it is and am never disappointed.  The early ones I had were SW barrels, but I can’t remember much of a difference.  The 15 is my favorite VW, although the 20 is very close.  I don’t like the Lot B much and I honestly had a hard time finishing the ORVW 10 year.  That being said, there are many great bourbons out there, although many of those are now hard to find.

 

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yobber76

Are there bourbons out there with a similar taste profile to PVW 15? Or suggestions of other high quality pours that are more attainable?

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