Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by Lydia Martin
The Pappy bourbons are famous premium-quality drinks with limited annual production. Their rarity leads to skyrocketed Pappy Van Winkle price points at some retailers, especially from the black market.
But what makes it so famous? Here’s our quick review of the most sought-after Pappy and what makes it an exceptional brand.
All About Pappy Van Winkle
The Van Winkle bourbon whiskey products used more than 51% corn and rested the blend in new American charred oak casks for at least ten years.
However, this brand rose above other whiskey products when it came to popularity.
Aside from endorsements of celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain, the Beverage Testing Institute also gave the product a 99/100 score.
Most Pappy whiskey expressions also received many recognitions from San Francisco World Spirits Competition and International Wine & Spirits Competition.
Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle started as a traveling salesman for W.L. Weller & Sons before eventually buying the company and creating the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in 1935 .
After his death, his son took over the company, but he sold it in 1972.
Pappy’s descendants tried to keep the family name by reviving an old recipe and establishing the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery.
Julian Van Winkle III took over the business in 1981.
How It’s Made
Buffalo Trace Distillery has been in-charge of distilling this fine bourbon whiskey since 2002.
The aging period of Pappy’s expressions varies from ten to twenty-three years using new American charred oak barrels.
This aging period is considerably longer than most brands, leading to a huge portion of the spirit evaporating or most commonly referred to as Angel’s share.
More details on who makes Pappy Van Winkle bourbon here.
Key Ingredients & ABV
Buffalo Trace uses their wheated bourbon mash bill in making the Pappy products, replacing the usual rye mash with wheat mash.
Many alcohol enthusiasts believe that using wheat instead of rye results in smoother and sweeter bourbons. The other ingredients are corn and malted barley.
The distillers used Kentucky limestone water before bottling the liquor at varying proofs from 90.4 to 107.
The brand started with Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle when he bought the company he used to work for and merged it to create the Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
In 2001, Preston, Julian’s fourth-generation descendant, joined the company.
Along with his father, he continued the family business by partnering with Buffalo Trace, owned by Sazerac Company.
This bourbon has a fruity sweetness resulting from the wheat used in the mash bill instead of rye. You can also taste nuts, dark fruits, and vanilla toffee flavors.
The bourbon also exudes an aroma of raisins, oak, vanilla, and cinnamon notes.
Color, Viscosity & Finish
It has a gold-amber color resulting from its long aging period. The sip ends in a long and enveloping finish.
Price & Value
As per their website, the bottles of Pappy Van Winkle normally range from $70 to $300 as their suggested retail price.
However, most retailers and distributors sell Van Winkle for as much as ten times the suggested price. But why is Pappy Van Winkle very expensive?
The demand to acquire this bourbon bottle increased due to the brand’s limited production of around 84,000 bottles every year.
For clearer insight, Jim Beam releases around 84 million bourbon whiskey bottles annually .
Common Pappy Van Winkle Prices
|Size||Alcohol By Volume|| |
|Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Yr||750ml||53.5%||Around $1699.99|
|Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Yr||750ml||45.2%||Around $2500.00|
|Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Yr||750ml||47.8%||Around $2999.99|
|Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 yr||750ml||47.8%||Around $1899.99|
|Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr||750ml||45.2%||Around $1049.99|
|Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Yr||750ml||53.5%||Around $799.99|
|Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy’s Family Reserve 25 Year||750 ml||50%||Around $17000.00|
*Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary in local liquor shops.
Compared to Other Whiskeys
Wild Turkey produces widely available and cheaper whiskey products than the Pappy brand.
Its suggested retail price starts at around $25 for a bottle containing 50.5% ABV.
This product has a smooth and sweet taste with six to eight years of maturation, slightly shorter than the ten years of Pappy products.
This brand produces widely distributed whiskey bottles at a lower price of around $28 to $30.
The usual age of the blend is around eight to twelve years, similar to some Pappy products.
It contains 47% ABV for small-batch expression, but they also offer barrel-proof drinks with 120 to 140 proof.
George Dickel is one of the few companies that use the “whisky” spelling despite being an American brand.
For around $30, it also provides a cheaper whiskey bottle than the Pappy Van Winkle bottle.
The blends used for production range from five to eight years old, making it another younger comparison than Pappy products. But what is a poor man’s Pappy Van Winkle?
Popular Pappy Van Winkle Cocktails
Julian Van Winkle Old Fashioned
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
- 2.5 oz bourbon whiskey
- Seven dashes of Angostura bitters
- Seven dashes of orange bitters
- One raw sugar cube
- Orange slice
- Ice cubes
Place the sugar cubes on a cocktail napkin and soak them with Angostura and orange bitters.
Discard the napkin after and transfer the soaked cubes into an old-fashioned glass.
Avoiding the bitter rind, muddle the orange slice and ice cubes until sugar is almost completely dissolved.
Then, add an ounce of bourbon and a few ice cubes. Stir until well chilled before adding more bourbon. Serve.
Van Winkle Old Fashioned
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
- 2 oz bourbon whiskey
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
- Two dashes of Angostura bitters
- Orange wheel
Prepare a rock glass and add the simple syrup and Angostura bitters. Fill the glass with ice, then stir.
Pour the bourbon into the glass and mix for 30 seconds until chilled. Garnish with an orange wheel. Serve and enjoy.
How much is a Pappy Van Winkle shot?
A shot of Pappy Van Winkle costs around $75 to more than $300. The limited supply of this premium alcoholic drink is one reason for these high prices.
Is Pappy Van Winkle bourbon a good investment?
Yes, Pappy’s bourbons are a good investment if you find them at their suggested retail price.
Otherwise, this alcoholic drink will cost you more if you buy it from secondary markets.
Why is Pappy Van Winkle rare?
It is rare to find Pappy Van Winkle bottles at your liquor stores because of their limited production and the long aging process.
In A Nutshell
Pappy Van Winkle bourbons are among the most sought-after Kentucky bourbon brands to include on your liquor shelves.
Aside from its premium-quality taste and texture, it also has a limited release resulting in an increased demand even for a single bottle of Pappy.
Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.