Drink Up

Nov 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

The name Pappy Van Winkle comes with a great deal of respect. The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery was born from what Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle started in the 1800s. Four generations of whiskey-makers later, the company forged a bond with Buffalo Trace and their product has only flourished.

People go to great lengths to get their hands on a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle's, and they don't come cheap. The Family Reserve 15 Year Old comes with a price tag around $80, and its sibling reserves only get more expensive.

But you get what you pay for.

In the nose, you'll get hints of honey, cinnamon, and vanilla combined with charred oak. It's so distinctive, you can pick it out of a lineup. At first sip you'll notice it's rich, velvety, and full-bodied, so much so that you might confuse the texture with that of a fine red wine.

The flavor is where the 15 Year Old really excels. It's like nothing you've ever tasted before, even if you're a hardened whiskey and bourbon fan. You'll get hints of caramel candy, vanilla cream, fudge, and toffee right away, and mid-palate you'll notice clove, all spice, and cinnamon. The finish is remarkably smooth for a 107 proof whiskey and even a bit of wheat-y sweetness shines through. It's nutty and oaky with hints of caramel, nuts, and honey.

A younger version of Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 20 Year Old, the 15 Year Old is a must-try for any whiskey lover.

Taste Pappy Van Winkle's 15 Year Old at Whiskey Business at Royal Oak Farmers Market Friday, Nov. 7.