5 Things to Know About Pappy Van Winkle Bourbons

November 27, 2019

Kentucky is famous for bourbon, with no shortage of world-famous distilleries. However, you might not have heard of one of the most sought-after brands: Pappy Van Winkle’s Bourbon. Here’s what you need to know about Pappy and his delicious libations.

Why Such a Funny Name?

Pappy Van Winkle was an honest to goodness Kentuckian. His given name was Julian Proctor Van Winkle Sr. He started working with Weller and Sons Bourbons in 1893 as a sales clerk, and eventually bought their distillery with his friend A.P. Stitzel. After some years, the distillery and liquor brand merged to make Weller-Stitzel Bourbon. After Pappy’s death in 1965, his son took over, changed the name to honor his patriarch, and kept the brewing business alive. Today, Julian the Third runs the business.

Everybody Wants This Stuff!

Though Pappy Van Winkle is a small distillery, it’s in high demand. Pappy’s only produces 84,000 bottles a year. They also age their product for a decade or more, so that raises demand further. A bourbon lover could once order a bottle straight from old Pappy himself, but you might have to wait a decade to buy direct from the distillery. Also, it's an expensive bourbon to make. The “angel’s share” is the portion of liquor that evaporates. Pappy’s celestial tithe is astronomical: 3 gallons sold to 50 gallons gone. So, as you can see, supply and demand is not in favor of someone that wants to whet his whistle with a bottle of Pappy's finest.

Why Is It So Good?

Here’s Pappy’s motto: “We make fine bourbon at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon.” Perhaps that mentality is why people will wait a decade for a taste. As for the recipe, the secret is finishing with wheat instead of finishing with barley or rye. Most say it gives the whiskey a caramel, vanilla, or fruity flavor while smoothing the mouthfeel.

How Pappy’s Got Famous

Even though they’ve been in business for a long time, Pappy didn't get popular until the late 90s. The Beverage Tasting Institute rated the liquor a 99 out of 100, which obviously piqued the interest of whiskey connoisseurs. Previously, the distillery was such a small production that it was hard to get the word out about the bourbon. They had barrels of ancient bourbon lying around because their sales were minimal. That's not the case anymore: Some rare bottles can sell for upwards of $5,000, making it the most expensive bourbon on the planet!

Pappy Van Winkle

Is It Worth It?

Some of Pappy’s varietals are aged 10, 12, 15, and 23 years. All of these varieties cost over a thousand dollars. So, is it worth the time and money? Only your taste buds can decide for you, but the experts give a resounding YES. Here is a breakdown of a taste test: The nose of Pappy’s is decadent and sweet with flashes of vanilla and caramel, ending with some spice. But that spice is balanced out by the wheat that mellows the bourbon. There are notes of tobacco and toffee. The mouth feel is very smooth, with no acidic alcohol burn. This whiskey is truly fun to sip.

To Drink or Not to Drink

Here lies the question that we all ask ourselves: To refrain or splurge? We ask it almost every day of our lives, whether you’re shopping for some new shoes, a new car, or a bourbon in Hendersonville. Only you can determine whether or not Pappy’s is worth your money. What is obvious, though, is that Pappy Van Winkle’s bourbon is the best for a reason. So maybe you should check it out, especially at Bluegrass Beverages, your favorite liquor store in Hendersonville!