Know Your Van Winkle: That Probably Isn’t ‘Pappy’ You’re Holding

January 22, 2014

Everyone’s desperate for Pappy

The coveted and hard to find Pappy Van Winkle is one of the most revered bourbons in America, if not the world. A limited production, and lauded quality puts a hefty price tag on the bottles every year. With the most current bottling having been befallen by a national-news-worthy heist late in 2013, the current market for Pappy verges beyond simply ‘hard to find’ and into the realm of nigh impossible.

Having said that, we’ve noticed quite a few posts here and there of people proudly boasting about buying a bottle, complete with a picture.

There’s just one problem. Somewhere, somehow, you may have been mislead, and that bottle that you may have overpaid for isn’t Pappy.

Don’t get us wrong, everything that comes from this family is spectacular. Our goal here is to educate, and help you to keep from being mislead.

So how do you know what’s what?

The Old Rip Van Winkle brand (a part of the Buffalo Trace family) produces many different labels – six in total, of which only three are technically Pappy. The heist got two of the six total Van Winkles, but only one Pappy. Specifically, these whiskey thieves got their hands on the 20 year Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve (a true ‘Pappy’), and the Van Winkle Family Reserve 13-Year Rye (NOT ‘Pappy’ – but still fantastic). So – how do you know what you’re getting, and if your local store may be trying to capitalize on news-worthy events? Dear friends, the picture at the top of the post – consider it to be your handy-dandy Pappy Label Guide.

#’s 1-3: Awesome whiskey. Not ‘Pappy’.
#3: WAS part of the heist.
#’s 4-6: These are all Pappy.
#5, the 20 year, was stolen in the heist.
This increased demand for the 15 year (#4).
If you get your hands on a bottle of the 23 year (#6) we are truly envious.

Full Breakdown:
#1: Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year Handmade Bourbon
#2: Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year Bourbon
#3: Van Winkle Family Reserve 13 year Rye
#4: Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 year Bourbon
#5: Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 year Bourbon
#6: Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 year Bourbon

Image Source: Buffalo Trace

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