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96 points

Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old Family Reserve, 53.5%

Sometime recently, the source of this whiskey changed from the now defunct Stitzel-Weller distillery to Buffalo Trace. No matter. This whiskey is still the best of the Van Winkle line. It’s crisp, clean, vibrant, impeccably balanced, and nicely matured. Complex fruit (bramble, candied citrus), caramel, coconut custard, maple syrup, fresh spice (vanilla, warming cinnamon, nutmeg, a dusting of cocoa powder) on a bed of nougat. Outstanding! (Editor's Choice)

Reviewed by: (Summer 2012)

96 points

Pappy Van Winkle

My review of this whiskey a few years back indicated that it was too woody and past its prime to be a great whiskey. This one is better. (Yes, bottlings do change.) There’s more balance, and the oak is in check. It’s still big and brooding, with notes of toffee, roasted nuts, dried spice (cinnamon, rosemary, evergreen needles), candied fruit, cocoa, and polished oak. Tobacco and toffee on the finish, with lingering dried spices, and there’s a nice foundation of sweetness to balance all the oak and spice.

Reviewed by: (Summer 2009)

95 points

Old Rip Van Winkle

Distilled in 1986. An excellent old wheated bourbon. Soothing oily texture, with notes of toffee, old rum, nougat, vanilla bean, candied fruit, black raspberry, corn bread, hints of Earl Grey tea, cinnamon, and nutmeg, with a smooth, polished oak finish. I recently reviewed a Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 year old (bottle #B1986) at 47.8%, which I also thought was outstanding, with a comparable flavor profile (although some earlier bottlings I tasted years ago were heavy on the oak), and it was priced at $220. Given this, you need to ask yourself if you want to pay the extra $130 or so for the higher strength, special decanter, pair of glasses, and wood box that comes with this new ORVW Family Selection. Or not.

Reviewed by: (Spring 2010)

93 points

Pappy Van Winkle 15 year old Family Reserve, 53.5%

Fully matured at 15 years, as you would expect. Lovely array of flavors: candied fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, gritty oak resins, vanilla fudge, and firm corn. Underlying notes of tobacco and polished leather add complexity and intrigue without dominating, kissed with a touch of honey. A remarkable value, considering its age and strength.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

93 points

Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old Family Reserve, 45.2%

Similar in many ways to the 15. Less vibrant, more mature. Less corn, more maple syrup. Less nutmeg, more teaberry. The most elegant, sexy and stylish of the three and the best dovetailing of flavors. You might think that $90 is a lot of money for bourbon, but this whiskey is fairly valued when compared to other spirits of this age.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)

92 points

Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old Family Reserve, 45.2%

Amber mahogany. Rich, mature aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, leather, teaberry, coconut, and dark fruit-very complex indeed. Big, coating, soothing texture. Flavors are very mature, rounded and nicely balanced, with notes of molasses, dried fruit, cinnamon, and teaberry. It finishes long, with a very soothing demeanor.

Reviewed by: (Fall 2001)

92 points

Van Winkle 18 year old Family Reserve, 52.6%

Style: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey Color: Deep amber Aroma: Deep, very mature, dry and spicy (especially spearmint), with underlying notes of ripe fruit, polished oak, and leather. The aroma is so thick, you almost need a knife to cut through it. Palate: Rich, thick, and chewy in texture-sweeter up front, then drying out towards its finish. Rather bold in flavors that are identical to its aroma, but never overpowering. Soothing, satisfying finish that seems to linger on forever.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2003)

84 points

Pappy Van Winkle 23 year old Family Reserve, 47.8%

Broodingly thick and syrupy in texture, and quite dry-especially on the finish. Twenty-three years is a long time for bourbon to spend in oak, and this one shows its age. The flavors and complexity of its younger two siblings is evident until mid-palate, but then dwindles slightly as the whisky progresses, replaced by dry, spicy, leathery, sooty-charcoal, tobacco notes.

Reviewed by: (Winter 2005)


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