Pappy Van Winkle bourbon

"We make fine bourbon at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon." - Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr.

The history of the respected Pappy Van Winkle bourbon begins in 1893 when Julian P. Van Winkle Sr. (after whom the product was named) became a whiskey salesman for W.L. Weller and Sons. He and Alex Farnsley would later make the decision to purchase A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery and produce bourbon for Weller. Stitzel and Weller eventually merged to become the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which Van Winkle became the president of. The bourbon that Van Winkle produced gained popularity for its inclusion of wheat in its recipe, instead of rye; substituting rye with wheat gave the bourbon a smoother taste. Julian Van Winkle Jr. took over the management of the distillery when his father passed away in 1965, and today, Julian Van Winkle III continues to run the Van Winkle brand at the Buffalo Trace Distillery – located in Frankfort, Kentucky. Though the brand has been passed down for generations, the original recipe is still used.

Though the quality of the bourbon has always been there, the incredible demand for Pappy Van Winkle did not begin until 1996, when Beverage Testing Institute rated the 20-year Pappy Van Winkle an impressive 99 out of 100 – the highest rating they ever gave. Aside from the bourbon’s unique production, the prestige of it also comes from its rarity; only 84,000 bottles are released each year. Though the demand for the bourbon continues to steadily increase, production is only increased by two or three percent each year so that the superior quality is preserved.

Pappy Van Winkle bourbon ranges in age from 10 years to 23 years. The 10-year-old is known to have a sweet and spicy aroma, as well as notes of fruit, toasted nuts, and floral honey. It is recommended that this age of Pappy be enjoyed straight, on the rocks, or with a bit of water. The 23-year-old is known to have hints of caramel, ripe apples, cherries, and tobacco. It is suggested that 23-year-old Pappy be enjoyed straight, as ice or water would take away from the refined taste.

Though getting a bottle of Pappy isn’t as simple as any other bourbon, it isn’t impossible! Be sure to enter the contest from Spirits Unlimited to win a chance to purchase your own bottle of 10-year-old Pappy -- see our Facebook page (@spiritsunlimitednj) for more details!