Review #​197 Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Bourbon

Distillery: Old Rip Van Winkle

Proof: 90.4

Age: 12 Years

Mashbill: 70% corn, 16% wheat, & 14% barley


BACKGROUND: Van Winkle, arguably the most famous name in whiskey, one of the few, and most sought after wheated bourbons on the market that is produced by Buffalo Trace. Although BT produces it, they are not the actual owners of the name. Better known as “Pappy 12,” any of the bottles in the line sell out in seconds or are purchased through lotteries. Unfortunately the bottles sell for $1,000 on any secondary markets, so if you see one, BUY. I was fortunate enough to stumble across this at the Casbar Lounge, located in the Sahara Casino located in Las Vegas Nevada, and boy was I not disappointed.



NOSE: The first scents I pull are an oaky citrus that teeters on the line with a sweet cinnamon flavor. The ethanol lightly dances under the sweet notes hiding behind honey and dark cherry notes leaving you begging to take that first sip. (24/25)


PALATE: As the whiskey touches your lips, you're immediately greeted by a smooth warm grainy honey flavor, quickly merging into a wood spice that is comparable to a hot cinnamon. On the second sip, flavors of citrus and nectar start to show with a light licorice only to be followed by a baking spice to close it out. (38/40)


FINISH: Bold, delicious, and long! Hints of cracked pepper lines with sweet notes comparable to apricot or green apple. As time passes the spice tingles around your mouth in the best way. (25/25)


VALUE: I purchased this pour for $45, which I believe is a steal! These bottles retail at $70, so if you find it, buy it, as for the $1,000 secondary price….keep looking! (9/10)


Overall: 96/100


FINAL THOUGHTS: I have been looking for this bottle forever and boy was I not let down. An absolute treat from start to finish! Pappy most definitely lives up to the name!


Slightly Better Whiskey: Pappy Van Winkle 15

Equal Whiskey: Old Forester 150th

Slightly Worse Whiskey: Weller Full Proof


Scoring Legend:

96-100: The perfect dram, juice of the gods

90-95: Near perfect, truly incredible whiskey

85-89: Amazing whiskey, will always try to keep a backup bottle of this

80-84: Very good, some minor flaws here or there

75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink, Will try and keep a bottle on the shelf

70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get this

60-69: Decent, would offer this up to non whiskey drinkers

50-59: Not my cup of tea

Below 50: Give away



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