Pappy Van Winkle 15

Pappy Van Winkle 15 (2014) – Review

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Background

Pappy Van Winkle 15
Pappy Van Winkle 15

So, Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old. I’ve been sitting on this bottle about five months. I wasn’t sure if I was going to post a review of this because, really, what’s the point? You’re not going to roll into your local Mega-Mart and find Pappy Van Winkle on the shelf and if for some freak reason you did, you’re not going to reference my or anyone’s review before buying. I’m also not sure how I feel about feeding into the hype where people are searching the seedy secondary market for any bottle of Pappy. I wouldn’t want anyone getting robbed or losing a kidney meeting someone in a Target parking lot.

The other thing is I’m not sure if I can actually review Pappy Van Winkle 15. It took a lot to get this bottle and I’m emotionally invested. How could I resist the pressure of the hype and not like it? On the flip side, what’s in this bottle could never match the hype and craziness surrounding anything Pappy Van Unicorn. Thus, the pendulum can swing the other way into an overly negative reaction.

So, months later I’ve sipped Pappy Van Winkle 15 here and there. I’m about as far removed from the hype before it cycles back up toward the fall Bourbon releases. I’ll give it a shot because I might as well have something to show for my trouble.


15 years old. Bottled at 53.5%. Wheated mash recipe. MSRP $80. 


Woody, dusty. Medicinal, band-aids. Coffee grounds. Cherries. Figs. Complex.


Oak/cedar up front with caramel, toffee. Bubble gum. Medium to high astringency. Vanilla. Nutty. Cinnamon, cloves. Tobacco.


In addition to Pappy Van Winkle 15, I got to try glasses of this year’s Pappy Van Winkle 20 and Old Rip Van Winkle 10. I had some chances for the 23-year-old, but passed because it the prices were stupid. I think the 20-year-old is really nice. If you get a chance to try a glass of any, I’d recommend going for the 20. I also enjoyed the 10-year-old with a nice 107-proof punch and a little age vs the more familiar Weller 12 and Old Weller Antique. An no, Poor Man’s Pappy isn’t as good, but it is a decent compromise for normal people.

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old for me was a disappointment. There are phenolics that I don’t like. I’ve had Pappy Van Winkle 15 in the past, and perhaps my memory isn’t as good and/or at the time my Bourbon experience was more limited, but I recall enjoying that more this this 2014 batch. Maybe this year was just an off bottling or maybe it’s just not for me now that I’ve tried a lot of different Bourbons.

So, no it’s not worth chasing. No it’s not worth paying stupid prices. And no it’s not worth losing a kidney in a Target parking lot. Personally, and thankfully, I prefer younger more lively Bourbons, so, while Pappy Van Winkle 15 has some real interesting complexities, I’d still prefer a more conventional good bottle of 8-year-old Bourbon. Plus, personally, I can enjoy a Bourbon more when paying $30 and knowing there are plenty more bottles on the shelf.

If you can find Pappy Van Winkle 15 for at or near the $80 list price without much effort, it’s a good buy. At the very least enjoy a little variety once in a while. Act like a baller and share with your friends. Otherwise, just between you and me, there’s better stuff on the shelves right now.



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