This is batch 14 of the JPS 18 expression that was discontinued several years back. The early batches were Stitzel Weller distillate, but nobody is 100% certain on which batch they started introducing part rye-mashbill distillate into the mix (rumor says after batch 16-18 or so). I’ve always assumed this Batch 14 to be SW distillate. This is bottled at 47% ABV.
Nose: Equal parts green apple and oak – very bright. Green apple has nice sweet/sour contrast. Rich brown sugar and vanilla follow up.
Palate: Green apple up front – mild oak taking on a bit of an earthy note.
Finish: Very long – green apple and oak here again with a bit of salt.
Rating: 92/100 – Not overly complex, but pretty delicious. I didn’t get as much of a SW wheat vibe, so possibly even batch 14 may not be SW distillate?
Value for the money: At the time I got this one, they were around $200 on the secondary – early batches are now $500+ so it’s definitely not worth that. I’d pay up to $100 if this were available in stores today.
This is the 2011 Pappy Van Winkle 20 year – rumored to be the last 100% Stitzel Weller distilled PVW 20. It’s bottled at 45.2% ABV.
Nose: Huge wheat up front with birthday cake, blackberry jam, and a nice level of aged oak.
Palate: Very sweet on entry with oak swooping in right away to add some bitterness to the wheat/banana notes.
Finish: A big letdown – turns rather bitter and dry. Very short overall.
Rating: 91/100 – If the finish was a little better, this could be such a better expression, but still a tasty wheater.
Value for the money: These are $1000+ on secondary, and they are most definitely not worth that.
This is the 2009 release of the Pappy Van Winkle 15 year bourbon – rumored to be the last year of 100% Stitzel Weller distillate before switching to Buffalo Trace. It’s bottled at 53.5% ABV.
Nose: Maybe the perfect bourbon nose for me. Sweet, rich, lofty – just goes on and on with big wheat, glazed donuts, gingerbread cookies, buttery creamed corn, and perfectly balanced oak.
Palate: Superb – gingerbread, uber sweet wheat, oak, green apples.
Finish: Spicier than the palate but still full of wheat/oak with sugary plums.
Rating: 97/100 – One the best bourbons I’ve ever had – I got to revisit it again recently and dialed back some points as it wasn’t quite as magical, but still one of the best out there.
Value for the money: These go for around $900 or so currently. If you’re deadset on buying a pappy or a unicorn bourbon, I’d gladly recommend it.
This is one of the Stitzel Weller Old Weller Originals from 1987. These are commonly referred to as gold veins as the bottles have gold lines running through them. These are bottled at 53.5% ABV.
Nose: Wheat with a lot of heat coming through. Berry cobbler and older musty oak.
Palate: Big vanilla, but slightly hollow with subtle wheat and dry oak.
Finish: Very dry and slight grain, but fades quickly.
Rating: 85/100 – A solid wheater, but didn’t live up to its hype for me. Perhaps the 70s OWOs are supposed to be better, but it could just be overhyped.
Value for the money: These are $700+ and in no way worth that much.
This is a Stitzel Weller distilled Old Rip Van Winkle from 1977. It was bottled at 45% ABV.
Nose: A very murky/musty wheater. A bit of pepper, but mostly earthy closed nose.
Palate: Subtle wheat and oak – very diluted overall. Sometimes these old bourbons are lacking for me – perhaps a bit of oxidation? A bit of vanilla and pepper towards the end.
Finish: Musty cardboard, vanilla, and oak.
Rating: 81/100 – I suspect this has been slightly oxidized – I wonder how much better it could be if it wasn’t?
Value for the money: No idea on the value of these as I don’t see them too often. I would guess around $1,000, but I wouldn’t pay more than $100 for this bottle.
Old Mock is a Stitzel-Weller distilled bourbon that was distilled in 1916 and bottled in 1933. I tried this at Delilah’s in Chicago as it was kind of a once in a lifetime bottle for me – I had never had any pre-prohibition before and couldn’t say no despite the hefty price tag.
Nose: Possibly the most buttery nose I’ve encountered in bourbon. Sweeping wheat notes with intense vanilla bean. Oak influence is surprisingly minimal for a 17 year old bourbon.
Palate: Oak much more evident here with a decayed profile, but lacks the musty cardboard profile I get from a lot of other old bourbons (50s/60s distillate). Still quite buttery with rich cake batter.
Finish: Butterscotch and sweet wheat with a bit of caramel and oak – brilliant finish overall
Rating: 95/100 – One of the best bourbons I’ve had. I’m partial to wheated bourbons in the first place, but this was something truly special.
Value for the money: It runs $150 an oz at Delilahs, but I’d still recommend it as it’s one of the few opportunities (if not the only) that most people have to try something this old.