Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 20yr

stats: Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 90.4 proof, $90

I turned my computer off, poured a glass of 20 year old Pappy and started folding laundry. One sip and I knew I'd have to turn the computer back on and start writing. The first thing that I should explain is that bourbon is aged in new charred oak barrels (by law), and scotch is generally aged in barrels that have already been used to age some thing else (bourbon, sherry, etc). The more times a barrel is used, the less effective it becomes. So 20 years is really old for bourbon. This whiskey has a beautiful deep amber color. The red tones on the label probably accentuate the color in the bottle, but it still looks great in the glass. It's got an inviting nose that will temp you to tilt the glass right back for a taste. Initially sweet, but then the wood flavors begin to dominate (as well they should after 20 years in oak). While the wood flavors dominate, they don't overpower. The spirit has enough of its own flavor to keep everything in check. There's a bit of a burn, but in a good way, in a warm tingling way. The intitial sweetness gives way to a mildly dry finish, a wonderfully long meandering finish. Overall, a great whiskey that has lots of flavor, but is still very smooth.

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