I didn’t intend for this post to be written today. Mainly because when I went out last night with a group of friends, I didn’t think I would be drinking Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-year bourbon. I surely wasn’t going to buy it. But I have some generous friends. And by the end of the night they convinced me to try one of the Pappys, anyone I wanted. I chose the 20-year.
I won't recount the background of the Family Reserve line. It's been written about ad nauseam. Instead I recommend checking out this Gear Patrol article.
I will say the bottle I tasted last night was 2014 so it’s a mix of whiskey from the Buffalo Trace and Bernheim distilleries.
The nose was very sweet, heavy vanilla with small amounts of oak and honey.
Oak, vanilla, caramel, mint, maple syrup, fudge are up front in a velvety, rich texture. That’s followed by hints of toffee and orange. Notes of cherry slowly build but remain in perfect harmony with every other flavor. The finish is very long, possibly one of the longest I’ve ever experienced. And nothing loses it’s perfect balance. Nothing is out of sync. Even 15 minutes later I still tasted remnants of perfectly balanced whiskey.
The impressive thing about this whiskey is even in a blind test, if you didn’t know what you were drinking, you would notice the exceptional mouthfeel and near perfect balance. If this isn't the most complex and balanced whiskey I’ve ever had, it’s number two or three. It’s really something remarkable.
Twelve hours later I feel like I'm still on a Pappy high. Thank you to my friends for letting me experience Pappy 20-year!
Rating: 95/100 (the highest I’ve ever rated a whiskey)
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