Review 030: Pappy Van Winkle 15 (2012)

Photo Nov 19, 6 13 07 PMPappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old  |  53.5% ABV  |  $80

Well here it is, quite possibly the most hyped bourbon, and maybe whiskey, in the world. Pappymania is reaching critical mass with thousands of people clamoring to get a bottle. Liquor stores hold lotteries for the few bottles they have and each store is packed with hundreds of people. Some stores raise the price on the bottles treble to cash in on the craze and collectors and speculators try to flip bottles on the secondary market with huge mark ups. All in all it’s madness, plain and simple. And the reason I am reviewing last year’s release is because it just isn’t worth it anymore. The waiting in line and ridiculous prices on the secondary market have made this a bourbon I seemingly will not buy anymore unless the bourbon and pappy craze die down and it will, it always does. But I don’t judge a whiskey but the market forces pushing it forward so let’s see what all hype is about.

Appearance: Deep amber with slow moving legs

Nose: Right away I pick up on rich Colombian coffee and sweet french vanilla. Following up with maraschino cherries, tangerines and muscovado sugar. A real rich and intense bouquet with a beautiful lining of oak. With water a delicious creme brulee note appears along with touches of banana and cranberries. As it continues to open up the leather and toasted oak become sharper and more apparent. This really is a stellar bouquet balanced with complex aromas, just stunning.

Palate: Upfront the french vanilla comes in flowing beautifully with some milk chocolate notes that really helps this bourbon make quite the entrance. Mid palate those tangerine notes come in along with some touches of butterscotch, honey and licorice. Towards the back I’m picking up on some black coffee notes, tobacco smoke, wood tannins and caramelized sugars. The finish is medium in length with oranges, slight grapefruit pith, sour apples and dark cocoa. The mouthfeel is almost syrup like.

Overall: Well very few whiskies came compete with a bouquet like that. Intense aromas all in perfect sync with just the right amount of oak. Unfortunately the palate could not live up to it but I don’t know too many whiskies that could. This is not a knock on the palate but rather a very high praise of this stunning bouquet. This is a very, very good whiskey and one that shows how good a wheated bourbon can be with the right amount of age. You’re not getting this kind of complexity with a 6 or 7 year old. Now for the million dollar question is it worth all the hype? Well my answer would be no whiskey is really worth this kind of hype but it is an excellent bourbon.

Rating: 93 / ****S

Photo Nov 19, 6 13 48 PM

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