Last Updated on November 20, 2023 by Lydia Martin
Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Bottle Prices & Guide (2023)
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 in popularity.
Aside from endorsements of celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain, the Beverage Testing Institute also gave the product a 99/100 score.
“Pappy Van Winkle: A taste of history, a sip of legacy.” -Liquor Laboratory
Most Pappy whiskey expressions also received much recognition from the San Francisco World Spirits and International Wine & Spirits competitions.
Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr. started as a traveling salesman for W.L. Weller & Sons before eventually buying it and creating the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in 1935 .
After the death of Van Winkle Sr, his son, Julian Van Winkle Jr, took over when he sold the Stitzel Weller Distillery in 1972.
The Van Winkle Family, headed by Julian Jr, tried to keep the name by reviving the wheated bourbon recipe and establishing the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery.
Winkle III took over the business in 1981 and continuously delivered whiskey stocks in partnership with Buffalo Trace Distillery.
The “Always fine bourbon” has lived through four generations, continuously in high demand, and has received multiple awards for generations.
How It’s Made
Buffalo Trace Distillery in Louisville has been in charge of distilling this fine bourbon whiskey since 2002. Until today, they use the original wheated bourbon recipe by Van Winkle Sr.
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 massive portion of the spirit evaporating, commonly called 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 a wheated bourbon recipe.
Many alcohol enthusiasts believe 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, a WL Weller and Sons salesman.
Then, 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 business.
He continued the business with his father by partnering with Buffalo Trace Distillery, which Sazerac Company owns.
Due to high demand and limited stock that the suppliers produce, the price can be unbelievably higher, especially in the secondary market.
After four generations, the bottled whiskey stocks from the brand have continuously prospered and received multiple awards.
Tasting Notes of the Fine Bourbon
As I savored this fine bourbon, my palate was treated to an extraordinary journey. The flavors danced gracefully on my tongue, offering a harmonious blend of caramel, wheat, vanilla, and butterscotch.
Subtle hints of toasted oak, dark chocolate, and dried fruits complemented these rich, sweet notes. The palate was like velvet, delivering a luxurious and indulgent experience that I won’t soon forget.
This bourbon has a fruity sweetness from the wheat used instead of rye. You can also taste nuts, dark fruits, and vanilla toffee flavors.
Upon bringing the glass to my nose, a symphony of enticing aromas greeted me. Sweet caramel and vanilla wafted delicately, followed by the comforting scent of toasted oak.
Honey, wheat, and cinnamon notes added depth and complexity, while hints of citrus and dried fruits teased my senses.
The nose promised an enriching tasting experience, and I was not disappointed. The bourbon also exudes an aroma of raisins, oak, vanilla, and cinnamon notes.
Color, Viscosity & Finish
The deep, amber color of fine bourbon hinted at their well-aged character.
As I swirled the liquid in the glass, I couldn’t help but admire its remarkable viscosity, with thick, slow-moving legs that clung to the sides.
The finish was a revelation, long and sumptuous, leaving a warm, comforting sensation.
Notes of oak, spice, and sweetness lingered on my palate, making it an unforgettable and satisfying bourbon experience.
Price & Value
Per their website, the bottles of Pappy Van Winkle usually range from $70 to $300, 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 for this bourbon bottle increased due to the brand’s limited production of around 84,000 bottles yearly .
Common Pappy Van Winkle Prices
SizeAlcohol By Volume
Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Yr 750ml 53.5% Around $2502.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Yr 750ml 45.2% Around $4251.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Yr 750ml 47.8% Around $8000
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 yr750ml 47.8% Around $2002.99
Van Winkle Special Reserve 12yr750ml 45.2% Around $1127.99
Old Rip Van Winkle Brand 10 Yr 750ml 53.5% Around $1499.99
Old Rip Van Winkle Pappy’s Family Reserve 25 Year 750 ml 50% Around $54662
*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 products than the Pappy brand.
Its suggested retail price is 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 spirits 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 also offers 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 fine bourbon bottle.
The blends used for production range from five to eight years old, making it another younger comparison than Pappy products.
Popular Pappy Van Winkle Cocktails
Julian Van Winkle Old Fashioned
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
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 the 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
“We make fine bourbon at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon.” -Van Winkle Sr, Founder
Prepare a rock glass and add the simple syrup and Angostura bitters. Fill the glass with ice, then stir.
Mix the bourbon  into the glass 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.
Since it can be expensive, you can try Poor Man’s Pappy as an alternative.
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.
For more than four generations, the brand remained popular. While other brands may not be as expensive as Pappy, it is a legend and will always be dubbed the “always fine bourbon.”
Why is Pappy Van Winkle rare?
The rarity of Pappy Van Winkle bottles at your liquor stores because of their limited production, high demand, and the long aging process.
Whiskey stocks should undergo an aging process to improve and achieve the right color and taste of the liquor .
In A Nutshell
Pappy 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, increasing demand even for a single bottle of Pappy.