Bourbon Reviews:

Bottling NamePappy Van Winkle
Bottled ByOld Rip VanWinkle / Julian VanWinkle Lawerenceburg,KY
TypeKentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Alcohol content95.6 Proof
Availability US: No Longer Available Japan: Unknown Duty Free: Not Available Europe: Unknown
Views (since 20080612) 43854
Bottling InfoThis is the only 23 year old Kentucky Bourbon sold in the country today. There are only 3,000 bottles of this very rare 23 year old bourbon. It takes generations of distilling know-how to produce a rare, well-aged bourbon like this. Only the most careful and expensive distilling method can be used to create a whiskey as special as this one.

These barrels were carefully placed in the heart of the warehouse to receive the most benefit from the variable Kentucky seasons. Each season, the whiskey passes through the thin, caramel layer of the charred white oak barrels, picking up an enormous amount of color and flavor.

This fine old whiskey should be enjoyed neat or over ice. "Pappy" used to say, "why ship water all over the country." In keeping with his theory and practice, Julian Van Winkle has chosen to offer this whiskey at a higher than usual 95.6 proof. This higher proof allows all the incredible flavors to come out with each tasting. This truly is an older and wiser "Pappy."


There were 2 bottlings of Pappy 23 done. One around 2001 which consisted of roughly 3000 bottles. Another bottling took place December 2003 consisting of a little over 900 bottles and they all sold out rather quickly. The next bottling is scheduled for December 2005.

Review from Dump Bucket (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1799, Created:20100205235537)
Purchased at:Julio's
Purchased for:$350
Info on this bottle:Old Rip Van Winkle 23yr, 114 proof
Nose:Lots of Caramels and cream. What a GREAT nose. This has all of the characteristics of the classic VVOFs with a more complete body to it.

As this juice opens up fully there are caramel candied Washington red delicious apple notes and a vanilla sweetness with a blend of light cotton & linen aromas.

The oak in this is mysterious. As the oak begins to come out waves of intense caramel cream push it back into perfect balance.

Not a touch of alc in this nose.
Taste:Vanilla cream with just the perfect touches of oak on this Juice right out a pour.

The caramel red delicious apples from the nose come through after this sits a few min (~5) and just set your mouth into frenzy.
Finish:The finish starts with memories of buttery vanilla caramel desserts and then those rich tastes of oak and butter just race across you mouth. There is an oily characteristic here that is lost on bourbons today.

Like the nose and the taste, a distinct caramel red delicious apple flavor stands out with a touch of Oak. The oak in this is in perfect balance with the oils and buttery vanilla caramel.
Overall:It has to be the unfiltered higher proof that takes the standard PVW 23 to the woodshed and leaves it there. This is truly a great bourbon that does the Van Winkle name justice.

This just became my favorite Van Winkle on my shelf. Incredible.

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Review from Mike (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1154, Created:20080618181428, Updated:20080618181610)
Purchased at:Sigman Bottle Shop, Conyers, GA
Purchased for:Nevermind
Info on this bottle:A2591
Nose:Wood to be sure, but not 23 years worth. A softer sweetness that manages to play with the nose before trailing off into some nuts and leather. An enticing nose because it is not like many other bourbon noses. I like it!
Taste:Sweet, with hints of distilled wine flavors. But some spice asserts itself at mid-palate and gives it the bourbon stamp. There is a decided softness and subtelty that I find irresistable and compelling. The woody dryness cannot take control, and is managed and becomes contributory rather than oppositional.
Finish:Moderate, appropriate, and right for this bourbon.
Overall:I haven't had a sip in many months. It is first rate! I am just compelled to say that as an experienced bourbon drinker, this bourbon will stay in my memory banks as among the most memorable. I may just go over and see if there is yet one on the shelf.........even at its very dear price. Want to know how good this bourbon TNbourbon's review below!

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Review from spun_cookie (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1022, Created:20080221115246)
Purchased at:ebay
Purchased for:$185
Info on this bottle:Bottle B189
Nose:Lighter than the A, but not significantly. The nose starts off slower with vanilla and then rushes to light oak and leather. The age can be tell. Scents of butter scotch flows in and out with the vanilla and wonderful oak. The older oak scent is not apparent, but the age or sophistication is.

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Review from spun_cookie (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1021, Created:20080221115117)
Purchased at:Trade with Mike
Purchased for:Trade
Info on this bottle:Bottle # A2591
Nose:Full, complex and inviting. Tones of oak, cedar and ponderosa pine (the vanilla tree). An after scent that could be a master piece all in itself. The vanilla, mixing with the oak leaves a memory of fresh vanilla bean. There is light leather and must at the middle of the scent that gives way to aged oak
Finish:Amazing. So slight a burn that is balances with oak, vanilla. Just a hint of smoke.. like that of smoldering tea leaves or light cedar. This drink moves me. A taste that is remarkable. The complexity of the leather and oak just screams balance (yes pseudo oxymoron) and pulls you further into the drink.

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Review from scubagirl (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 1006, Created:20080131113451) View discussion on this review.
Purchased at:Roof Brothers, Paducha KY
Purchased for:199.00
Info on this bottle:bottle 1098 bar code 89319 12378
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:This one was very pleasant to smell, like to have it in a perfume. Musky, hink of oak, plum, vanilla
Taste:Wow, smooth, rich bourbon flavor, hint of chocolate, aged like a fine cognac. A great taste exploded in my mouth trying this one.
Finish:Hated to see the end of the bottle, smooth finish, like being in the same room with a vanilla cigar, smoky, robust, no alcohol taste.
Overall:Can't wait to try another bottle from a different barrel to see if taste in consistant.
I like this one and could get addicted to it easily.

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Review from Mike (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 925, Created:20071126162657, Updated:20071126173416) View discussion on this review.
Purchased at:
Nose:What have we here, nose? 'Tis not, to be sure, Scotch, not Cognac, and is it bourbon? Well, it must be! There is the assertiveness that says it is an American spirit. There is the front and center Oak and char, and there are the nuts and leather that Scotch rarely carries and Cognac would find laughable. There is a bit of citrus that some Scotchs have, but there is none of the flowery sweetness that always blooms beautifully in Cognac. Yet, there is a slight floral aroma that comes on fleetingly before the nuts and leather and dry oak brush them aside. Surely we can spare some time with a bourbon that costs this hurry, life will not pass us by. The nuts are still there, the citrus and oak too.......but Cognac seems more a cousin now, albeit distant. This nose seems to belong to itself is quite complex with the wood ever present.
Taste:What have we here, mouth? The dryness brushes aside everything including the short lived sweetness. The dryness sweeps aside the spice and dessicates the mouth. What is left to taste? Remants of bourbons past, dying in the desert that is now the mouth.
Finish:It has not rained in months, it is so dry..........I must dance and dance again the rain dance, only the unusual flourish here!
Overall:Only for those with a strange palate. Is it for you? Who can say...........only you. Do I like it? I don't even know is strange.

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Review from Mike (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 763, Created:20070502145507, Updated:20070503061706) View discussion on this review.
Purchased at:Sigman Bottle Shop, Conyers, GA
Purchased for:$199.99
Info on this bottle:Bottle # A2591
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:An almost shy nose with very little alcohol vapor. Patience pays off with a complex nose of oak, nuts, soft sweet vanilla, and a hint of orange that is delicate and wine like. Impressive and difficult to leave because it is so subtle and teasing.
Taste:An oak amplified dry entry with a touch of sweetness. Reminds me of a very dry wine, but one that would be inordinately spicy and warm. Just a tiny bit of sweetness hangs on to add interest. Complex? Yes, but again in a delicate way, if a whiskey this dry can be delicate, which, I say it can.
Finish:Moderately long, dry, woody, barely bourbon like. The alcohol is continuously subdued in Pappy 23, its heat has been snuffed and at best offers only a gentle smolder. Is it a good finish? I can only suggest that you look for the differences between Pappy 23 and other bourbons and enjoy them.
Overall:I find Pappy 23 to be a superb whiskey that, like many things of value, is paradoxical. It is a bourbon and it isn't. It is complex and it isn't. It is quite dry and it is delicate. It goes down easily and yet, requires some attention. Some may not care for its uniqueness.

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Review from Mike (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 579, Created:20060828141311, Updated:20060828160412)
Purchased at:Gift from JoeLuka, thanks Joe!!
Nose:Mild oak, light vanilla, dark fruit (plums), leather, citrus, tobacco, with almost no alcohol. A surprise is the aroma of a rich red wine! A subtle nose wherein there are no solos. This is a well trained aromatic group, where all know their part and no prima donnas are wanted or allowed. Far better than any solo act in its precision. Have you ever heard a Bach Fugue? Pappy 23 should be the 'training' bourbon for prospective bourbon 'tasters'. In my opinion, if they can't understand why Pappy 23 is great, they don't need to be in the bourbon business!
Taste:A suprise, because there is only MILD oak, followed by light vanilla, dark fruit, a bit of citrus, and a nice chunk of spice. Again there are no characters that take off on their own. They all blend in perfect harmony. Sweetness, spice, and subtle flavors work together to achieve a delicate touch rare among alcoholic spirits.
Finish:A moderate to long finish where the taste components play by the rules. The spice takes over briefly toward the back of the mouth (her natural territory, anyway) but she never completely yields to the oaky, vanilla, sweetness that is here to stay.
Overall:I have always found JoeBourbon to be a sure guide to bourbon..........this is no exception. For Joe to let loose about a bourbon means 'pay attention'! Pappy 23 bears comparing to any bourbon, any scotch, any cognac, any spirit. I just discoverd today that Pappy 23 is now $199, not $299, in my neighborhood. Will I buy some........I will find a way. Is it worth it? Who the hell knows? To me, .............well, I intend to come up with the cash!!!!!!!

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Review from bourbonv (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 453, Created:20060417153014)
Purchased at:Bourbon's Bistro Bar
Purchased for:35.00
Info on this bottle:Standard Bottle
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:Caramel and ripe fruit - apples and cherries. Oak wood and tobacco with a hint of chocolate.
Taste:Oak wood with caramel and chocolate and ripe fruit.
Finish:Long lasting and pleasant - starts with a lot of wood but leads to a nice sweet caramel.
Overall:Very nice neat with a good cigar - Pappy would be proud!

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Review from JoeBourbon (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 322, Created:20051226165534)
Purchased at:New Jersey
Purchased for:210.00
Info on this bottle:December 2005 Frankfort Bottling. Bottle A1357
Nose:Color: Lovely Deep Burnt Amber. Dense and somewhat syrupy. Coats the glass.

Nose: Ripe green apples abound. Not alcoholic. Very complex nose.
Taste:Phenomenal balance. Myriad of fruit flavors in middle palate. Almost no alcohol burn. Silky smooth. Hints of Maraschino Cherries. You almost cannot put the bottle away.
Finish:Exquisite and very long. Fruit still shows and lingers. Apples prevail.
Overall:I'll put this one up against any Cognac made. Like the 20 y/o, this is a super premium bourbon the likes of which are almost unknown in Bourbondom. Expensive but Great. I wish I could afford to buy a case. This is the one to ask for when you're getting ready to cash in your chips. Yes, it's that good.

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Review from TNbourbon (BourbonEnthusiast Review ID 205, Created:20050627130548, Updated:20050628094508)
Purchased at:Both in Middle Tennessee
Purchased for:$147-$185
Info on this bottle:Green-tinted Lawrenceburg #2505; Frankfort bottling #859
Proof Of this Bottle:95.6
Nose:Frankfort:: A first whiff of alcohol, quickly underpinned with vanilla, brown sugar and Red Hots candy. The cinnamon hangs on to become prominent.

Lawrenceburg: Very assertive, with the oak making its presence known the minute your nose approaches the edge of the glass. Breakfast pancakes on a Smoky Mountain weekend retreat follows. The red taffy apples of the fair's midway linger in there, too. This is a very evocative nose!
Taste:Frankfort:: Very little of the alcohol which lead the nose presents itself on the tongue. Subtlety is the name of the game here, with smoky maple syrup and brown sugar flavors giving way to the Red Hot, cinnamony finish. There're hints of taffy-apple and vanilla, especially on the finish.
The flavors are concentrated, with no single element making itself the 'star'. You have to hunt for the matches, made more difficult by the nagging thought that maybe it would be better just to sit back and enjoy the whole. (So, for the last half of the 1-ounce pour, that's what I did!). Instead of adding an over-drying oakiness, 23 years in the barrel seems to have subtracted all the extraneous, leaving the essences of good, pure bourbon.

Lawrenceburg: Oh, those pancakes and candied apples -- who knew they were such complementary dishes?! There is also the hint of pan-bottom, apple-pie-juice mixture of butter and brown sugar. The alternate enjoyment of the rich nose followed by the justifying taste is why we enjoy bourbon. A slight acidity at the end keeps the sweetness from becoming cloying.
Finish:Frankfort:: The heat is in the end of this one, offering a nice balance to the largely sweet flavors on the palate. But it burns off cleanly, leaving you ready to enjoy all the elements of the next sip.

Lawrenceburg: Medium-long and soft, but not reticent. The mouth is left coated and fresh, with no souring aftertaste. Remarkably subdued alcohol sense throughout (though not to say it's non-existent). It never comes to the fore.
Overall:Either/both:: Fine bourbon, no surprise! This is the cognac or Port course. I'm not a smoker, but I suspect this would go well with a cigar (as hinted by the label picture of Pappy himself). I craved a soft, caramel candy or piece of deep-dish apple pie to accompany it. Perfectly fine as dessert on its own, too.

Obviously, these are different bourbons (L'burg is rye-recipe, Frankfort is Stitzel-Weller wheat), but made to the same style. I won't pick a favorite -- these cloister at the top of the heap with the few other bourbons with which I find no fault. If I saw bottles of each side-by-side on a store shelf, I'd probably opt for the Lawrenceburg bottling simply because it is defunct, while the Frankfort one will have limited availability again in December (and, hopefully, occasionally thereafter). Go ahead, folks -- open those bunker queens! Worth it.

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