Thanks to /u/devoz for bringing this to the end of the year tasting of 2017.
Price isn’t part of my reviews.
Let’s all take a second to say that out loud.
Done? Great, we can move on.
Price isn’t part of my reviews.
Just making sure.
There are some mountains that we all look for. High end whiskies that we look for, ones that are hard to find. For me, I have lists and lists of whiskies that will probably take me years to find.
And frankly, given how much of a tater Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 is, I didn’t think I’d end up trying this without paying half the secondary for a bar to open it up and give a bartender an eventual and completely justified panic attack pouring a sample.
So what is this legendary, very old whiskey? According to the website,
Only the most careful and expensive distilling method can be used to create a whiskey as special as this one. These barrels were carefully selected from the heart of the warehouse for an added three years of aging.
So from what I understand, Old Van Winkle has a deal with Buffalo Trace to pick out barrels each year for the pappy line. And of the ones that have sat there for 20 years, they choose a few to sit for another 3 years in the middle of the warehouse to become the 23 year.
But how does it taste? I understand that a lot of these end up on the shelf somewhere, used in the same way as a classic car that’s never driven or a historical object that no one sees or studies or a gemstone that is never worn.
But I’m not here for those things, otherwise I would have gone into finance and had quite the cocaine habit by now. So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: Your first born ($269.99 MSRP)
Colour: 5YR 5/10
Nose: Strawberry, carrot muffin, caramel, cherry blossoms, fruit salad
Fruity and carrot muffin to start. Not super strong like some other older whiskies I’ve had. This takes quite a bit of time to open up. It really, really makes you work for it.
Much like paying for it.
My reviews do not take price into consideration.
There’s a nice balance on the nose. Good fruit, some floral, and is quite different for a bourbon to have those “red fruit” characteristics we typically associate with a sherried whisky.
Taste: Caramel, oak, buttered bread, floral, dry cherry
Initial taste is a ton of caramel followed by a long lasting amount of oak that typically comes from running mouth open into a young forest in Autumn. In places where they have seasons that affect the trees. You get the idea, I live in the northern hemisphere.
What I’m saying is: There’s a lot of oak. And it takes quite a long time, and even a tiny bit of water, to help that out. I’m quite happy this bottles been open for a bit as well, because… wow that’s quite a bit of oak. It’s nice ones that subsides.
Finish: Oak staves, turnips with butter, dusty, salt, floral, burnt honey
If the nose needed an extra ten minutes, and the taste needed an extra 20 minutes, then the finish needs you to take up a new hobby to wait for it to open up.
It’s quite earth forward. A lot of dry, burnt honey notes, more of the floral, and some salt. I can see why people really enjoy this whiskey: There’s some interesting notes here.
Conclusion: If you’ve ever wondered what beavers taste every day of making a dam, then do we have a whiskey for you!
Joking aside, the oak influence on this is dialled up to 11. A strong, powerful, and dry whiskey that has brought out different flavours of earth, buttered bread, and red fruits, all from virgin oak and time. That’s impressive.
However… wow there’s too much oak. It’s the scene from Evil Dead, in liquid form. Don’t know what that is? Don’t look it up, it’s horrible, but works to explain this.
Have a dram if you have a chance. Otherwise? I’m hoping the 20 and 15 (which I’m hunting to try) have the complexity without the oak genitalia being forced in my mouth.
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