Pappy Van Winkle is one of the holy grails of cult bourbon. Quantities are extremely limited and highly allocated, so when a bar or store gets some in, it disappears quickly. Fortunately for Ann Arbor-Ypsi bourbon lovers, The Ravens Club has just received a few bottles. Act fast, and you could get a taste of this rare treat.
One of the things that makes Pappy Van Winkle so unusual is its age. Aged a minimum of 10 years, bottlings go all the way up to 23 years, making it the only bourbon of that age available today. Oak barrel aging introduces great complexity to the bourbon, adding layers of flavor and character. Pappy is also a “wheated” bourbon, meaning it complements the required corn in the mash with wheat rather than the more typical rye. Wheated bourbons tend to be exceptionally smooth, and Pappy’s does not disappoint on that front.
The 23 year aged Bourbon is particularly coveted, and after tasting it I could see why. It’s a powerhouse of flavor. The overtones are butterscotch and caramel, but underneath that there’s oak and spice and a certain je ne sais quoi that was actually a little overwhelming. Beside it, the 20 year bottling was almost boring, but if smooth is what you’re looking for, then this is the very definition. My favorite, however, was the 15 year old. Tons of butterscotch and toffee paired with lively spice, for a bourbon that was truly delightful. And a little easier on my wallet.
Where to imbibe: The Ravens Club, 207 South Main Street, Ann Arbor. Ask the bartenders to put together a flight for you if you’d like to get the full experience, or pick just one to sip and savor.