My Poor Man’s Pappy experiment

Like most of us, I read about and watched reviews on combining W.L. Weller 12 and Old Weller Antique (OWA) to get something that resembled a Pappy Van Winkle. I was interested. I had a few OWA ($35 CAD), and won two Weller 12’s ($46 CAD) in this year’s Sazerac lottery, so I figured I’d try it.

There are a few different recipes circulating, some include extra maturation in a mini barrel, some just a simple bottle-blend, but most were a 60-40 split OWA and 12 year. After watching John Glaser talk about the great results re-matured blends get, I figured I’d go barrel.


Poor Man’s Pappy Batch 1, 60% OWA (420ml), 40% Weller 12 (280ml) Aged 14 days in 1L Virgin Oak Barrel

  • Nose: Strong creamy oakyness, newly cut wood, caramel, leather, floral sweetness, rum-like molasses, cherries.
  • Taste: Dark cherries, toffee, caramel, vanilla, pepper, and again heavy oak and wood.
  • Finish: Medium length, a little hot, and plenty of oak.
  • Thoughts: My plan was to let this mature for 2 weeks then check it and determine if it needed more time. Well, after 14 days it pulled so much oak influence from the barrel that it was almost undrinkable. It tasted like drinking sawdust. I barreled 700ml and only poured out 520ml. I contribute most of that loss to the barrel absorbing the whisky, I doubt there was much evaporation in 14 days. The whisky was so oaky that I realized I should have primed the barrel with some cheap bourbon first, but this was the cheapest bourbon I owned, so I decided to try again. Batch 1 has since mellowed in the bottle and is much better than it was, but still not very good.
  • Score: 65 + 0 value point(s) = 65/100

Poor Man’s Pappy Batch 2, 60% OWA (300ml), 40% Weller 12 (200ml) Aged 7 days in same 1L Oak Barrel that contained batch 1.

  • Nose: Creamy oakyness, , floral sweetness, sweet caramel, vanilla, cherries.
  • Taste: Brown sugar, cinnamon hearts, toffee, caramel, and much more subtle oak.
  • Finish: Medium length, more balanced.
  • Thoughts: This time 500ml went in and 450ml came out. The barrel didn’t take as much liquid, but it still added a decent amount of oak influence. A little too much for my liking, but this batch was much better than the first. Still not satisfied, I tried it one more time, but without the barrel.
  • Score: 77.5 + 0 value point(s) = 77.5/100

Poor Man’s Pappy Batch 3, 60% OWA (225ml), 40% Weller 12 (150ml) Blended in bottle (No Barrel)

  • Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, vanilla, cherries, leather.
  • Taste: Brown sugar, cinnamon hearts, toffee, caramel, black cherries.
  • Finish: Medium length, cleaner and smoother.
  • Thoughts: Well this is MUCH better than the barrel matured batches. Fuck me right?
  • Score: 84 + 0 value point(s) = 84/100

Overall Thoughts:

Well, the barrel was a failed experiment. Damn you John Glaser! JK. You source good wood, I spent $60 USD on a novelty toy. But I think after having around 200ml of good bourbon soaked into the wood, the next whisky I put in there might work the best.

The one question that needs to be answered; is the blend better than the sum of its parts? Well, if you look at my Weller 12 review it’s not. But it’s really close. I decided to blind taste test Weller 12, OWA, and Batch 3.


Glass A: I liked this one the best (Guess: Weller 12. Actual: Weller 12)

Glass B: I liked this one second best (Guess: Batch 3. Actual: Batch 3)

Glass C: I liked this one third best (Guess: OWA. Actual: OWA)

As expected, I liked the Weller 12 just that little bit more, but I did like the Poor Man’s Pappy better than the OWA.

One more thing…

Does Poor Man’s Pappy resemble anything close to Pappy Van Winkle? Some claim it’s close to the Old Rip 10, Lot B, or even the 15 year. I’ve only tried Lot B, it was good, not sure I’d say it’s definitely way better than Weller 12. So for science purposes I had to find those. But this is what I found…

Pappy Van Winkle 23 year, 47.8% ABV, $75 CAD (1 oz pour)

*I usually only review and score stuff that Ive had a chance to try multiple times, but ill make an exception with this because I may never acquire it.

  • Brown sugar, caramel, and toffee all in perfect balance. Coffee, chocolate, hazel nuts, and cinnamon all very well rounded. One flavor rolls through the next. It develops very nicely. Each flavour is in equal proposition to the others. I kept expecting a big oak note, but it wasn’t there. The oakyness was just enough to match everything else. The finish was pretty amazing and lasted a good hour after it was gone. I kept wanting to suck the inside of my cheeks. It’s bottled at a very specific 47.8%, which is probably the perfect strength. Everything about this was just so so good. An absolute treat. Worth secondary prices upwards of $2,500 USD? No. But definitely something you want to try.
  • Score: 93.5 + 0 value point(s) = 93.5/100
Obviously the 23 isn’t a fair comparison for what I was trying to do here, but screw it, I saw the bottle and had to try it. Ill eventually get around to trying the rest of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, but I doubt Poor Man’s Pappy will tide me over until then.


After my initial score I will add or subtract points based on how I perceive value (based on what I paid for the bottle). A zero value means I think the price is justified.

0-69.5 – Don’t bother trying, life is too short for bad spirit.
70-79.5 – Worth trying, but you’re not missing out if you don’t.
80-84.5 – I recommend trying.
85-87.5 – Definitely try this!
88-92.5 – I recommend buying a bottle blind!
93-95.5 – Stuff you reserve for special pours!
96+ – The meaning of life.

3 thoughts on “My Poor Man’s Pappy experiment

  1. Interesting results from your barreling experiment. I’ve been experimenting with aging Eagle Rare 10 in a 1 litre barrel for two months after seasoning the barrel with sherry for a month….mid-July is the big reveal!


  2. I was actually thinking of doing this! Thanks for trying out the barrel aging so I don’t have to. Really bummed it turned out poorly though.


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