Ok whiskey world, get ready to pitch your tents, change your diapers, and drain your bank accounts. Bourbon season is officially upon us. The next generation of the hottest bourbon of the decade is about to hit the shelves and your trusty pals at SmokyBeast have an exclusive sneak peak!
|Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 Year, 2013 Edition|
Friends in High Places (mountains as a matter of fact)
Where did we score this prime time beast? Actually our new best buddy Anthony over at Pour Mt Kisco broke it out as a special surprise after our magnificent antique rye tasting from Beast Masters Volume 2. It's here! Yeeeee-haw. Queue appropriate Honky-Tonk banjo soundtrack =>
|Serial Number: B1305911:00M|
How did we determine that this was in fact the newest, 2013 Pappy? It's sometimes tough to see the serial number on these bottles so we ad-libbed with a flashlight and some creative photography. You can see that it starts with a 13. This indicates that it was bottled in 2013. Exclusive sneak peak confirmed!!! The next three numbers indicate the day of the year. This was bottled on the fifty-ninth day of the year, in other words February 28th. Presumably at 11:00am. These bottles will be hitting the shelves soon, so get out your safari hats and let the hunt begin...
Update 9/19: Some helpful folks from the internet have doubted the accuracy of our most awesome sneak peak at this 2013 Pappy. For reference, here is a note Anthony got directly from Mr Van Winkle himself attesting to it's authenticity. It's actually referencing a second bottle with a similar code, but you'll see the idea. (this is what we in the industry call "breaking out the big guns")
B= Bottled at Buffalo Trace
13=bottled in 2013
059= the Julian calendar date of bottling
10:52= bottled at 10:52am
M= M bottling line at Buffalo Trace
Please let me know if you have further questions.
J. Preston Van Winkle
Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery
"…But Always Fine Bourbon."
Invasion of the Buffalo
Last week we went through a bit of history along with a top notch tasting of early 2000's Van Winkles. We mentioned the fact that the Stitzel-Weller distillery closed in 1992 and Julian Van Winkle III contracted with Buffalo Trace to continue to produce bourbon for the Van Winkle brand. Since the early 2000's, Pappy bottles have begun to mix Buffalo Trace and Stitzel Weller barrels. 2012, however, was the last year that any 20-year old Stitzel Weller bourbon existed. That makes 2013 the first year that Pappy 20-Year is 100% Buffalo Trace bourbon. Many are curious, will it measure up? Will the flavor be the same? Can the torch be passed? Will the invasion of the buffalo conquer our cigar-smoking hero, or will the spirit of Pappy prevail?? As of today, only SmokyBeast can tell you, so let's get down to some drinking!
Nose: Very rustic farm-y elements going on here. It's got all the requisite big bourbon Pappy trademarks: vanilla, cocoa, buttery caramel, plums and raisins, coffee. But there's also a musky grassy wheaty fresh character to it.
Body: Big wood on the body. Some dry cracking oak. Also some lighter fruits coming out. "Apple pie and candy apples!" says Josh Feldman of The Coopered Tot who joined us for the tasting. It's a very tight and balanced body with *lots* of oak, wood oil, and sweet punchy fruits.
Finish: It all comes down to the finish, and the new sauce definitely does not disappoint. It's medium-length, no alcohol burn, and the pleasing spirit warmth floats perfectly on the rich woods.
Just to be sure (we're never ones to be less than thorough when it comes to whiskey), we ordered up a flight of the 2012 Pappy's that happened to be on tap at Pour. We sipped the 2013 20-Year against each of the 2012 15-Year, 20-Year, and 23-Year. A strange thing happened. The new 20-Year tasted note-for-note the same as last year's 23-Year! Just to be sure we weren't hallucinating (after all we'd just had three stellar ryes and sampled a bunch of other little treats from Anthony's bar), we handed Anthony the two tasting glasses blind. "Super close" he concurred.
20 Is the New 23!!!
So this is really something special. This year's 20-year tastes remarkably like last year's 23 (which by all indications is still Stitzel Weller juice). If you loved the woody and sophisticated 23 from recent years, you're going to go nuts for this year's 20. It makes us very excited to try the rest of the 2013 line. Will the 15-Year taste like last year's 20? We certainly hope we'll get to find out.
It's a matter of taste for sure. Historically some people love the big sweet richness of the 15-Year, some love the crisp woodiness of the 23, and others feel that the 20 is the sweet spot between the two. It will be interesting to see how all the reviews come in this year. But we're sure glad we got the first taste! You can be sure that the 2013 Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year is a top class bourbon. Those lucky enough to score a glass or a bottle are in for a serious treat.
Thanks again to Anthony for the pour!