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Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Bourbon Review (2023 Edition)

Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Bourbon Review 

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

For those considering Pappy Van Winkle expressions, you might have come across their 20-Year bourbon. 

If you’re hesitating to try this expression, read our Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Bourbon review to assess if this is something you need to grab onto or look for the next option.   

In-Depth Review On Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Bourbon

Bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year

Like the other Van Winkle bourbons, this 20-year-old Van Winkle is made with wheat instead of the traditional rye. It is one of the favorite wheated bourbons today. 

This bottle was originally made at the old Stitzel & Weller distillery, which closed around 20 years ago.

Pre-prohibition, this brand was called the Old Rip Van Winkle. But at present, Pappy Van Winkle’s products are made at the Buffalo Trace facility. 

Quick Facts 

DistilleryBuffalo Trace Distillery 
Classification & RegionWheated bourbon/Kentucky, USA
Alcohol Proof45.2% ABV 
Mash BillWheated mash bill (No rye with around 15% wheat mash)
Age Statement20-Year Old 
ColorGolden oak
Rating5-Stars
Average PriceAround $199.99 (MSRP)

What’s Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year?

This 20-Year Van Winkle Bourbon is a wheated expression made from the wheated mash bill of the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

It has the same mash bill as most of E.H. Taylor, Benchmark, and Old Charters’ bourbons. 

“Sophisticated and full of character, this is a very special whiskey with a wonderfully smooth, rich taste.”

— Paul Pacult, Spirits Journalist

Aged for 20 years, it is bottled at 90.4 proof, which creates its perfectly smooth and rich tasting notes. Also, it’s full of character, making a truly remarkable whiskey. 

Other must-try bottles from Pappy are: 

  • Special Reserve 12-Year
  • Pappy Van Winkle 15 and 23 Years 
  • Family Reserve Rye 13-Year 
  • 10-Year-Old Rip Van Winkle 

Tasting Profile 

Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Bourbon Bottle and a Glass

Nose 

We like the aromas of butterscotch, black cherries, honey, and toffee with hints of vanilla bean, oak, and milk chocolate on the nose. 

Palate

So a good palate, full of characteristics with a refreshing lemon hint and savory flavor of brownies, vanilla, cinnamon, maple, and raisins.

Actually, you can expect the major flavor categories in this bottle. 

A combo of bitter, sour, and sweet spice notes on the palate gives a delightful experience. 

Finish

It delivers a long, dry finish with oak and woody taste and sweet cherry, leather, caramel, maple, and vanilla notes.

But as it goes down the throat, the cherry flavor lingers with some hint of spicy notes of cinnamon and burnt caramel.   

Why We Like It 

  • This Pappy 20-Year Family Reserve is a perfectly aged whiskey, but it isn’t too complex. 
  • It’s a perfectly-made dessert that pairs well with pinto beans, cornbread, and fried potatoes. 
  • The combination of sweet and spicy tastes is a delight to the mouth.
  • It’s smooth and satisfying, with good dessert flavors and an enticing nose. Besides, it’s comparable to Scotch.      

Drawbacks 

Man Holding Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Bourbon
  • It’s a wheated bourbon whiskey, so there are no hints of rye spices. (If you’re a rye fanatic, you may pass on this one.)
  • The oak and woody notes aren’t that transparent despite the long aging process. So, if you like oak and earth tones, we suggest looking for another bottle.
  • It’s rare and difficult to find, similar to other Van Winkle bourbons.    

What The Experts Say About Pappy 20-Yr 

According to experts, Pappy 20-Year is a one-of-a-kind bottle packed with quality and impressive flavors. 

As we interviewed other aficionados, they call Pappy the “holy grail” of bourbons.

Even our club specialist says the same thing about this expression, and upon tasting it, we can’t help but agree. 

In fact, celeb chef Anthony Bourdain once said, “If ever God made bourbon, this is what he’d make.” 

Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Rating 

We give this expression a perfect 5-star rating.  

Although it’s hard to find and expensive, it has the excellent quality, good flavors (from the nose to the palate), and a satisfying finish.

So, it’s well worth the money, time, and effort.  

Do We Recommend It?

Man Holding Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year Bourbon

Yes, we recommend this 20-Year expression from Pappy. It has flaws, but considering all the positive points, it’s worth it.  

Serious fanatics and drinkers would agree that Pappy bottles are excellent in their own way and a must-have in every bar and home bar.  

But, if you can’t find Pappy these days, you should opt for alternatives. We recommend the following: 

  • Weller 
  • Benchmark
  • Old Charter
  • E.H. Taylor  

FAQs 

Where can you buy Pappy Van Winkle 20-year bourbon?

You can buy Pappy Van Winkle in liquor shops, but the supply is limited. The recent Fall 2022 release of Pappy is getting sold out, so finding a bottle can be really challenging. Also, the price is increasing, depending on the store. 

Is Pappy Van Winkle’s 20-year bourbon hard to find?

Yes, the Pappy Van Winkle 20YO is hard to find due to the limited supply [1], exceeding the high demand. 

To Sum It Up 

Undoubtedly, Pappy Van Winkle is a grand slam, winning awards and recognitions from different competitions and tasting events.

It’s one of the sought-after bourbons many whiskey hunters aim to find.

In our experience with the 2022 release of this 20-Year Old [2], it has the right balance, body, and mouthfeel. It lacks proof and complexity, so we recommend it for beginners. 

Some serious whiskey fans may find this stuff too simple, but considering the overall character, it’s an excellent and attractive expression– definitely a must-have. 

References:

  1. https://www.courier-journal.com/story/life/food/spirits/bourbon/2022/10/11/pappy-van-winkle-bourbon-release-includes-more-bottles-than-usual/69554957007/ 
  2. https://robbreport.com/food-drink/spirits/2022-pappy-van-winkle-bourbon-bufflo-trace-1234756300/ 
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