LCBO Popup Event: Tasting Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 Year

This weekend, I had the opportunity to try Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year at the LCBO Popup on King and Bathurst with Sazerac distiller Allisa Henley.

For those of you familiar with whiskey, you’ll know that Pappy is considered a unicorn. This is because it is affordable (at MSRP) and delicious – an unheard of combination! Because of this, these bottles are extremely hard to come by and bars often charge a sizeable premium for a pour.

In additional to Pappy 23, we got to taste Buffalo Trace and Blanton’s as a comparison. The Pappy was darker than Buffalo Trace and similar to Blanton’s. I’ve heard from others that the consistency is lighter than the 2016 Pappy Van Winkle 23 which has a thicker mouth feel (if you’re lucky enough to have something @devozwhisky wants, you might be able to swap for some!).  Pappy 23 is bottled at 47.8% ABV (95.6 Proof) compared to Buffalo Trace which is bottled at 45% ABV (90 Proof).

This one was not as velvet-y as I expected but it was still very easy to drink and the nose was excellent – vanilla and musky (I think this is why some people say it smells like leather). It tasted much sweeter than my every day whisky, which may be because I have been drinking Canadian whisky and Scotch recently – typically lower in corn content compared to bourbon. A typical bourbon contains corn, rye, and barley in it’s mashbill while Pappy, on the other hand, uses corn, wheat, and barley. The use of wheat results in a less harsh and sweeter profile with more caramel notes as wheat produces more bready flavours while rye is what gives whisky the spicy notes on the palette.

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: Vanilla, musk, leather and it’s also a little bit creamy – I think this is what set the expectation of the thicker mouth feel
  • Palate: Caramel, Burnt Sugar, Oak
  • Finish: Long and sweet

It is a spectacular harmony of sweet caramel and burnt sugar matured in charred virgin barrels at the Buffalo Trace distillery. Only the creme de la creme of all the barrels in the warehouse become Pappy Van Winkle. This is why even though Pappy 23 is priced at the affordable rate of $250 USD, resale and secondary market pricing can go up to 10x that much!

Thank you to the LCBO for this great opportunity. For those of you who are interested in more LCBO events, stay tuned for the LCBO Christmas Pop-up coming in December!

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