Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

The Legend: Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Pappy Van Winkle 15 yr Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 53.5% abv (107 Proof), $65/bottle

Each year I drink the latest release of this bourbon. Each year I’m taken aback by how great it is. It’s scarce and extremely tough to locate. And it seems just when I’m frustrated enough, I get a call from my local merchant informing me, “Pappy 15 is in!” This year was no different. I intended to review this with at least one of its older brothers, the 20 or 23 year expressions, but you needed to know about this one quick enough to get your hands on a bottle.

Pappy 15’s nose is as nearly perfect as you can get; rum, dried fruits (dates, apricots, raisins), soft caramel, maple syrup, buttery toffee, vanilla, barrel, leather, and light cedar. It’s rich, sweet, well spiced, but still vibrant in spite of it’s 15 years on the barrel. Pappy 15 pours into your glass like slightly watered down syrup or honey. From that moment you sense just how rich, thick, and lush this whiskey is. Flavors of rum soaked fruits, dried red or berry fruits, salted caramel, nutmeg, clove, maple, vanilla, toasted coconut, almonds, and char plow over your taste buds. This bourbon is huge – just a monster of flavors, with a long finish of toffee, caramel, fruits, barrel, and warming spices (nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon). Simply put, it’s one of the finest whiskeys made on the planet – an EPIC expression of Bourbon. The highest of recommendations.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.8 (Epic)


  1. Thanks Ford – this too qualifies as a Public Service Announcement. Well done!

  2. I am trying to locate some Pappy 15 in North Carolina. I have read in many places that it is an excellent bourbon. In truth, I am trying to find what is closest to a particular bourbon that is apparently not produced anymore. My Grandfather had some Weller’s Antique Reserve Ten Year 110 Barrel Proof that was probably acquired in the 1950’s. That bourbon was wonderful. Is there something comparable to that?

  3. Nat, that is a tough question to answer. The 10 year barrel proof from that year will be a tough one to match. The mashbill is inline with the Old Rip Van Winkle and Weller Antique products out there. Give those a try!

  4. Jason,

    Love your reviews. I have been looking for a bottle of Pappy, living in CT. I am having a hard time finding any of it 10, 15 or 20 yr. Any suggestions???


  5. Jason, Clearly we’ve fallen hard to the dark side of Bourbon. My husband and I indulged yesterday in a Christmas treat to ourselves: one bottle each of Pappy 15y and William Larue Weller. The Pappy is the showier one and quicker out of the gate with heavy char and thick mouthfeel compared to anything we’ve had before. The Weller is quite comparatively restrained in nose, arrival, development and finish. Ii will be fun to add these to our rotation (sparingly) to watch the evolution of the spirit with airing. Thank you for publishing your notes.

  6. A really good friend scored me a bottle of Pappy 15 for Christmas. Wow! Now I see what all the fuss is about. This is bourbon like I love it. Great nose, bold flavors and nicely viscous. Living in NC, it is going to be tough for me to get more, so I am going to hoard this and be stingy with it. 🙂

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