December 25, 2013

Fantasy Bourbon GAME 1: Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year vs. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

If you're just tuning in, the introduction to Fantasy Bourbon starts here....





Game on!

Brackets are locked in, everyone has chosen their favorites, and it's time for the head-to-head battles to begin!  First up, our top ranked seed Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year against the cult favorite, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2013 release.  Could the squat-bottled colorful upstart unseat the battle-tested veteran cigar smoking king of bourbon?  Let's pour!



2013 Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year & Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 



Nose-to-Nose

Pappy:  Deep brown butter, molasses, crisp oak, spicy bbq.

OFBB:  Our original review put the nose deep in cream soda and roasted nuts.  Those aromas are still there, but next to the Pappy we get more medicinal notes, more spice and less sweet, and a little acridity.

Body-to-Body

Pappy:  The hearty spirit burn is just what the doctor ordered at 107 proof.  It's a whiskey-drinker's whiskey, certainly not the softest of the Winkles, but some would say the most addictive.  Big vanilla, tobacco, thick-feeling on the palate, more brown butter, molasses, little pops of spice & smoke.

OFBB:  Again our initial taste on this one was a nice woody kick with roasted peanuts and some pleasant rye grain notes.  Against the Winkle there are still a lot of roast nuts, but it's a bit harsh and doesn't quite have the integration of ingredients.  Things are not looking good for our buddy OFBB.  He's on the ropes and taking a beating.

End Game

Pappy:  The wood dominates the finish with all the elements coming back punchy with the butter, chocolate, and sweet char smoke.  It's a wallop tasted neat, but that's how we like it.  Big powerful, the most raw of the VW line, but one that leaves an impression and has you calling the next day and sending flowers.

OFBB:  The comparison becomes more striking as we move through the nose to the finish.  It comes in sour, with a less appealing heat that doesn't come quite as beautifully wrapped up in the wood and cocoa.  At the lower proof (98 vs 107) we have to give the finish to the Winkle no questions asked.

Final Score

There was no big upset here.  While we love the OFBB 13, it comes in slightly bitter, and lacking the deep complex wood maturity and character of the Van Winkle.  Listen, considering that it was half the price retail, ten thousand times more available, and remarkably less insane than the Van Winkle, this loss shouldn't be considered criticism.  It's a great bourbon, but Pappy holds its #1 rank with what could pretty much be described as a blow-out.  Even if this year's Winkle wasn't quite the same stuff as 2009 and prior Stitzel-Weller juice, it's a mighty fine beast and won this round handily.

Brackets


Standings

First round is worth one point.  Here's the main scoreboard:

Player Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Game 7 Total

Bo Wang
1 1
BennieFF
1 1
Kurtis
1 1
Daniel Forth
1 1
Justin Sloan
0 0
JOHN REYNOLDS
1 1
Chris Jones
1 1
Zach Raymer
1 1
Josh Lawrence
1 1
Matt Zimbler
0 0
Stephen Joos
1 1
Jason Brown
1 1
Soko
1 1
Carla C.
1 1
espitz00
1 1
Joe S.
1 1
Kelly Beggs
0 0
Jake Van Nuland
0 0
Stefan Bing
1 1
jesterpee
0 0
Bruegengaters
1 1
Maggie Wafford
1 1
djfivenine
1 1
J
1 1
zak rotello
1 1
Brent Sehnert
1 1
ZacP in RI
0 0
dave nichols
1 1
stl cork'd
1 1
a-dig
1 1
Kevin M
1 1
Rush Thrift
1 1
Michael St.pierre
1 1
Sarah Ilinitch
1 1
Danny Cakes
1 1
Matt Rychtanek
1 1
Dan Gilbert
1 1
Glencairn
1 1
Charles Binger
1 1
oak
1 1
Tim Moon
1 1
Lucy Crow
1 1
Jeff Roth
1 1
paulgetto
1 1
Bryan Nanna
0 0
Max Burstein
1 1
Tom Kimball
1 1
Thomas Hurst
0 0
Will Moller
1 1
Mikel Isaacs
1 1
TJ
1 1
Arok
0 0
T.J. Thompson
0 0
whiskycorner
1 1
Stephen Grim
1 1
Vincent Licata
1 1
whattastesgood.net
1 1
britney tucci
1 1
Ravensfire
0 0
Reuven Weinstein
1 1
Funky Tape
1 1



Click here to move on to Game 2 - a monster barrel-proof battle - the dark horse bourbon insider's favorite of the year Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, vs. the original haz-mat warhorse Buffalo Trace Antique Collection George T. Stagg!

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