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BOTM, 2/07: Pappy Van Winkle 20yo


jeff
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Ah February, the season of romance. An opportunity for lovers to rekindle the passions and desires that brought them together. It is a time for reflection and rediscovery. We are all gathered here today to join in a common devotion: an appreciation for aqua vitae; the American eau de vie that is Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. A good bourbon allows us to exchange, for a moment, our individual life issues for friendship and conversation. But when it's a great bourbon, a cruel mistress she can be. Your thoughts infected with the memories of that last sip, and an uneasy feeling that you may never again find as good a bottle, or be able to afford it. But she is worth every penny, and in the end you would pay twice as much for her company. Such is the nature of the bourbonian.

In honor of February and our love affair with fine bourbon, Straightbourbon.com is recognizing one of our favorites as bourbon of the month: Pappy Van Winkle 20yo.

Like the old Maker's Mark ad states, "It tastes expensive, and is." While superb bourbon in its own right, it is made that much better by our friendship with Julian and his openness with Straightbourbon.com. While most of us would agree that any Stitzel-Weller is good whiskey, Pappy 20 is something special. Not long for this world in its current form, Pappy 20 is like tasting history, hearkening back to good ol' days long gone. I have had the pleasure of enjoying a drink of Pappy 20 with Julian and many of my friends from Straightbourbon.com. I hope to enjoy one with the rest of you soon.

:893drillsergeant-thSound off:893drillsergeant-th

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I have about 20% of PVW20yo left in the bottle I opened Christmas weekend. I think I will finish it off this weekend since it is this month's choice.

The first time I had a PVW20yo was October '05 at The Tavern in Bardstown, KY.

To rephrase the St. Pauli Girl beer ad, "You never forget your first Pappy."

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It's been several months since I last had any 20. I keep up in a closet securely tucked away for special occassions. Today wasn't special, but I figured that with the addition of Pappy 20 it would be, so I pulled it out. It was very tasty. I had forgotten how smooth it is, until that first sip, went down beautifully. Always does.

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Not to nitpick, but the title says 2/04, maybe its supposed to be 2/07?

I wish the PVW products didnt cost so much, otherwise I'd be able to paticipate in this months BOTM. Just out of curiosity, what did y'all pay for the PVW 20?

Eric

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Well, I was about to try another Kentucky 'delicacy' -- rye and ginger beer (though not Ale 8 One) -- for the first time, but I'm no fool: you don't need to give me a second excuse, Jeff, to pour the Pappy 20.

The 20 has many favorites for me: I think it's color -- just past the red/orange of amber, beginning to brown -- just looks like bourbon ought to look; you don't have to stick your nose in the glass to note the brown sugar/white pepper, cotton candy nose, but neither does it overpower, never becoming 'spirit-y'; the burnt caramel palate that cuts the wheat sweetness to perfectly balance it.

Let's face it -- $90 is a lot to spend on a bottle of bourbon, especially when you don't have to spend that much to find one that's quite enjoyable. Julian gives us a consistent, substantive quality here that gives us an excuse to do it anyway. I'll try to put a few back a few Stitzel-Weller bottlings while they exist. I'll miss it when it's gone.

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I gave a bottle of Pappy 20 to a friend for Xmas. We shared much of it over the holidays but he left it at my house. I can't drink it without him because it was a gift. So I'm keeping it around, and it's no fun staring at such great bourbon every day but not being able to touch it. Truly awesome stuff.

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Not to nitpick, but the title says 2/04, maybe its supposed to be 2/07?

I wish the PVW products didnt cost so much, otherwise I'd be able to paticipate in this months BOTM. Just out of curiosity, what did y'all pay for the PVW 20?

Eric

Corrected, thanks!

Here in Lexington Pappy 20 sells for between $79 and $90, depending on the retailer.

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Wow, thats way outta my price range. $30-$40 is my limit right now for any type of whiskey. Unfortunately, I'm running out of good choices in that range.

Eric

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The Pappy 20 is mighty nice and I always enjoy it but I really prefer the 12 year Lot B. You can get two bottles of Lot B for what one of Pappy 20 costs.

bj

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This is a world-class pour in all respects: color, aroma, taste, and finish.

Having said that, I still prefer the PVW 15 to this one. Somehow it seems richer, more complex and better balanced. And, IMHO, it is a better value.

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I like anything "Van Winkle", including the 20 y/o. It may be overpriced when compared to the 15 y/o though. A great pour.

Joe :usflag:

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Not to nitpick, but the title says 2/04, maybe its supposed to be 2/07?

I wish the PVW products didnt cost so much, otherwise I'd be able to paticipate in this months BOTM. Just out of curiosity, what did y'all pay for the PVW 20?

Eric

I have been extremely lucky Pappy wise this season. Since christmas, I have been personally responsible for the demise of 3 bottles of the 20 year, and have 3 more in storage. Here, it costs about 75 bucks a bottle. One of our local stores had january as customer appreciation month, and I bought the last three at about 65 bucks a bottle. I am holding on a little more carefully to these last three, but it sure was fun drinking the first three like there was no tommorrow!

russellc

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Well, I as about to try another Kentucky 'delicacy' -- rye and ginger beer (though not Ale 8 One) -- for the first time, but I'm no fool: you don't need to give me a second excuse, Jeff, to pour the Pappy 20.

The 20 has many favorites for me: I think it's color -- just past the red/orange of amber, beginning to brown -- just looks like bourbon ought to look; you don't have to stick your nose in the glass to note the brown sugar/white pepper, cotton candy nose, but neither does it overpower, never becoming 'spirit-y'; the burnt caramel palate that cuts the wheat sweetness to perfectly balance it.

Let's face it -- $90 is a lot to spend on a bottle of bourbon, especially when you don't have to spend that much to find one that's quite enjoyable. Julian gives us a consistent, substantive quality here that gives us an excuse to do it anyway. I'll try to put a few back a few Stitzel-Weller bottlings while they exist. I'll miss it when it's gone.

Please educate me, where are the Stitzel-Weller bottlings going to? I did not know they were going extinct? If so, I will be hugging the last three bottles of Pappy 20 very close! which other bottlings are Stitzel-Weller? Thanks in advance.

Russellc

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Hey Jeff:

Your post reminds me of something. That ad slogan, "Tastes expensive and is" was "borrowed" by MM after we sold the still in 1972. It was originally used in 50's & 60's advertising by my Dad for Old Fitz. We also used the phrase, "The most expensively made bourbon in the world".

Julian

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Please educate me, where are the Stitzel-Weller bottlings going to? I did not know they were going extinct? If so, I will be hugging the last three bottles of Pappy 20 very close! which other bottlings are Stitzel-Weller? Thanks in advance.

Russellc

Stitzel-Weller Distillery ceased operating in June 1992. Thus, after June 2012 there will be no more S-W bourbon turning 20 years old.

Now, Julian has the option -- if there's any left -- of using older-than-20 S-W in Pappy 20; or selecting barrels from other places, like he's done by putting Bernheim whiskey in Lot B, for example; waiting for/using the Buffalo Trace distillate that is in the pipeline; or discontinuing the brand. I don't know what's going to happen (perhaps even Julian doesn't know what's going to happen yet, as that's 5 years down the road -- though I think what happens to the Pappy 15 after this year will be a clue), but the S-W won't last forever, in any case.

To date, the trio of Pappy bottlings -- 15-, 20- and 23-year-old -- remains Stitzel-Weller.

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Stitzel-Weller Distillery ceased operating in June 1992. Thus, after June 2012 there will be no more S-W bourbon turning 20 years old.

Now, Julian has the option -- if there's any left -- of using older-than-20 S-W in Pappy 20; or selecting barrels from other places, like he's done by putting Bernheim whiskey in Lot B, for example; waiting for/using the Buffalo Trace distillate that is in the pipeline; or discontinuing the brand. I don't know what's going to happen (perhaps even Julian doesn't know what's going to happen yet, as that's 5 years down the road -- though I think what happens to the Pappy 15 after this year will be a clue), but the S-W won't last forever, in any case.

To date, the trio of Pappy bottlings -- 15-, 20- and 23-year-old -- remains Stitzel-Weller.

Thanks for the info, are the 15, 20 and 23 year old all the S-W makes? I guess I will put back the pappys I have on hand until this mess works out.

The world will be a sadder place without these fine bourbons!

Thanks again,

Russellc

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Now, Julian has the option -- if there's any left -- of using older-than-20 S-W in Pappy 20; or selecting barrels from other places, like he's done by putting Bernheim whiskey in Lot B, for example; waiting for/using the Buffalo Trace distillate that is in the pipeline; or discontinuing the brand. I don't know what's going to happen (perhaps even Julian doesn't know what's going to happen yet, as that's 5 years down the road -- though I think what happens to the Pappy 15 after this year will be a clue), but the S-W won't last forever, in any case.

I think the clue here is what happened with the Lot B, no markings to indicate any changes. At least with the letters on VWFRR you could estimate the age, but with the others, nothing. Looks like we'll still have Pappy, no matter what's in the bottle, for better or worse.

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To date, the trio of Pappy bottlings -- 15-, 20- and 23-year-old -- remains Stitzel-Weller.

I hate to "pop the bunkering bubble"......but a little "birdie" told me that there is some Pappy 15 out there that does NOT have SW whiskey in it. Rumor has it that some bottles of Pappy 15 have been released with Bernheim distillate in the bottle. Maybe Julian can clarify?

Dawn

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Well, before I read the full topic I thought to myself “Great! A reason to pour some more of the PVW15!†but alas the thread is for the 20. A good selection nonetheless, this one looks redder to me than the others so it goes with the month (it’s probably just the lighter color of the whiskey and all the red on the label though). Since I only have 1 of these I’m leaving it sealed, it’s a great bourbon that is comparable to few.

I hate to "pop the bunkering bubble"......but a little "birdie" told me that there is some Pappy 15 out there that does NOT have SW whiskey in it. Rumor has it that some bottles of Pappy 15 have been released with Bernheim distillate in the bottle. Maybe Julian can clarify?

Oh man, say it ain't so! I had some of this socked away and I opened it a couple of weeks ago minutes after procuring a replacement. I'm sure if some are not SW then those are the ones I got. :/ I never thought I’d say this but lucky for me my sense of taste doesn't appear to be nearly as sharp as that of many others here.

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I shared the sentiment that started the thread with my dear wife, that February being romance month and all that. Suggested that a bottle of Pappy 20 would be oh so nice...

She said nothing and stared at the complete BTAC including the Thomas B Handy and a bonus bottle of Saz Jr. that she gave me for Christmas.

When I told her, " That was last month"...

Good thing that I ducked.

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I just sent Julian a PM on 1/31/07 asking how much longer the Pappy 15 would contain SW. He stated that Pappy 15 will indeed be SW through the end of this year and maybe through early 2008. Who was that "little birdie"?

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This is correspondence between Julian and myself from today.

Julian,

I have not had the pleasure of meeting you in person yet, but I highly admire both yourself and your whiskey's. It is because of my admiration that I write this. In chat last night it came up that PVW15 now is not strictly SW stock. Is this true? I thought the whole point of switching to the Pappy line was so we (bourbon purists) could distinctly tell what was SW?

I know that there are a lot of people, who were in chat last night, that are now scratching our heads trying figure this out.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your response.

Last year, we were short of SW barrels so we had to use some BT 1991 barrels. They were great & I could not tell the difference between them.

That's good news for down the road.

Julian

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I have no problem with that -- if Julian can't tell the difference, I doubt I will. And, the bourbon IS the thing. That said, however, it would be nice to know.

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I have no problem with that -- if Julian can't tell the difference, I doubt I will. And, the bourbon IS the thing. That said, however, it would be nice to know.

That is true, however, what about the Bernhiem that will eventually have to roll through the series? Sure the BT stuff might be up to snuff, but likely there isn't enough of that to support Weller and VW currently, so the Bernhiem will hit the bottles eventually, and reports are mixed on that product.

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If the number of posts/replies are any indication, this month's BOTM will be a very popular choice comparitively speaking. So far, this will be the 24th posting on the thread. The last 2 BOTM selections - Dec 06 and Jan 07 respectively - have a combined total of 68 posts thus far. Thru only the first 2 days of February, Pappy 20 has attracted over 1/3 of that combined Dec & Jan total - and, almost as many (31) as last month's selection has received to date.

Yes indeed, a great and very popular bourbon - and a most excellent choice for February's BOTM.

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