Today I have more generosity from the guys at JVS and ImpEx, this time some American whiskies.
Near the start of my whisky journey, I was given 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die and I’ve been desperately trying to complete it. One of the more difficult ones to get a hold of was the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye and when I mentioned it to Chris Uhde, he said that he had a bottle open.
Anyway, many thanks go to him for the last two as he also let me taste some of his Sazerac 18 collection (he seemed to have them all!) but I only made notes on the oldest, bottled back in the year 2000.
Just to complete my line up of notes on the Pappy range (still haven’t had the 12), I also tasted the 15 at the Whisky Exchange Show this year.
Pappy van Winkle 15 53.5%
Nose: Great nose. Fruity, red apple and orange, a slightly woody smoke, quite fresh though actually, brandy soaked raisins, buttery with popcorn coming out. Chocolate orange and cherry.
Taste: Dry and fruity, raisin and red apple, orange, a flat-ish spice note of ginger and pepper, quite flat in the mid-palate.
Finish: Long length. Dry wood, light tingling spice.
Love the nose, taste lets it down more and more. I’d heard that this was some people’s favourite from the Winkle line up but I prefer the 20.
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 47.8%
Nose: Nicely leathery, coffee and chocolate in addition to the usual caramel, toffee and vanilla that I find in American whiskies.
Taste: Quite dry, nice leather and chocolate but flatter in other parts. Not much spice for a rye either.
Finish: Medium length. Not too spicy but not too impressive here IMO.
Lovely nose on this but again it gets quite flat and there’s plenty of average notes in here too. Still, it’s nice but you wouldn’t catch me paying $2000 for a bottle.
Sazerac 18 1981, Bottled 2000 45%
Nose: Complex and great richness, real sense of the grains, the rye is very clear but there’s a more earthy malt note here too which is as fascinating as it is delicious. Great nose.
Taste: So soft and supple. There’s something really restrained about this that I love, it isn’t super in your face but enough power and interesting spices to carry it through.
Finish: Medium length. Again soft but rich oak, complex with a darker chocolateyness. Not over oaked at all.
One of my favourite American whiskies I’ve had the pleasure to try and definitely the best rye I’ve tried.
Thanks for reading!
American Reviews #64-#66
Whisky Network Reviews #985-#987
Network Average: 75.1
Best Score: 94
Worst Score: 12
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
75-79 Very Good
Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as the Global Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. You can find more on my scoring here. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and I am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and I am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.