Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pappy van Winkle family Reserve 20 years old

Pappy van Winkle family Reserve 20 years old 45.2%

Pappy van Winkle

This whiskey is made at the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. Stitzel-Weller closed in 1992 and has among bourbon drinkers reached the same mythical status as Brora and Port Ellen has for scotch drinkers.

Pappy van Winkle worked for a wholesale company named W.L Weller and Sons in the beginning of last century. He eventually bought it with a partner, and they also purchased the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery , with brands like W.L Weller, Old Fitzgerald and others. In 1935 they opened a new distillery and named it Stitzel-Weller.

Stitzel-Weller was sold (to what is now Diageo) in 1992, Weller brands was sold to Buffalo Trace, while Old Fitzgerald followed the distillery. The distillery was closed as Diageo moved all their production to Bernheim. Bernheim was sold to Heaven Hill in 1999 and Old Fitzgerald is today a Heaven Hill brand. The Weller brands is owned by Buffalo Trace.

Traditionally, bourbon was (and is) made from corn, rye and barley, but Weller is known for being a wheated bourbon, made from corn, wheat and barley. This gives a softer, smoother, no rye spice, bourbon, very different from other bourbons.

Originally van Winkle whiskies were sourced from old Stitzel Weller stock, but production has moved to Buffalo Trace. Today, both Buffalo Trace and van Winkle is owned by the Sazerac Company. The van Winkle company is still run by 3rd and 4th generation van Winkle. Stitzel-Weller closed in 1992, it only takes a bit of math to figure out if van Winkle whiskies are from Buffalo Trace or Stiitzel-Weller. 20yo released in 2012 should still be from Stitzel-Weller stock as far as rumours goes.

(An exception to this is the van Winkle rye which was sourced from other distilleries, at least originally)

Nose : oranges cakes, delicate wood
Palate : Bitter oranges, nutty, creamy, with the wood not being overpowering at all. This is smooth, soft and delicate. Very drinkable, the is absolutely no need for adding water
Finish : Medium intensity, but long, very very long. The orangewood lingers forever. Fantastic

This is just not like any other bourbon I have tried. So delicate and subtle, and the first bourbon where I get nutty flavours.

This is one of those whiskies that puts a quiet happy smile on your face

So should we be worried that future bottlings of this will be from a different distillery. Yes and No. It will most likely not be same. Time will tell. But if you have tasted 12yo Old Rip van Winkle and BTAC's William Larue Weller, you know that these whiskies are also great.

As a whisky entusiast I am only excited to see what kind of Pappy 20's the future will give us. Just to be safe I have stocked an extra bottle of this

Rating 92

I reviewed PvW 15 last year here :


  1. How much does a Pappy 20 go for in Denmark, or did you bring it back from the US?

  2. I bought it in US for 130$ I think. In Denmark it goes between 175-235$