Three Van Winkles vs. A Pair of Hard-to-Find Michter’s – Which Bourbon Wins?

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It was a Saturday night showdown as Fred Minnick did a blind tasting to square off a group of hard-to-find bourbons from the Van Winkle line and Michter’s.

On the Pappy Van Winkle side, it was Pappy Van Winkle 15 year, Van Winkle Lot B 12 year old and Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year old. On the other side, the competitors were Michter’s 10 year and Michter’s 25 year old.

Fred was quickly wowed by two of the bourbons, and they ended up placing 1 and 2 in the taste-off results, after multiple tastings prompted to Fred to sigh, “It’s so close.” Ultimately, he set his timer to decided the winner based on finish, with the winner having an impact on the palate for more than two minutes. Here’s how it played out:

5. Glass B, Van Winkle Lot B 12 Year Old Molasses, black pepper; hint of banana, pie crust, hint of ginger. Doesn’t linger. Upon second tasting, “definitely pleasant,” but not necessarily one Fred would stand in line for.

4. Glass C, Michter’s 10 Year Old – A little earthy funk, tobacco, cigar box; smoke, more tobacco, pecan shell, hint of brine, like an oyster shell. “Delicious.” On second tasting, pronounced funk. “I really dig that.”

3. Glass E, Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old – Fruity meets savory, fried pie crust. “It’s got a taster’s shot.” Upon second tasting, “vibrant, sexy, depth, flavor,” but lacks the flavor burst of A and D. “I would hunt E.”

2. Glass D, Michter’s 25 Year Old – Molasses, butter, peanut butter, roasted almond with cinnamon; complex on the palate. “A special moment bourbon … a gorgeous, well put together bourbon.” Mostly concentrated on mid- and back palate, touch of sweetness in the finish. Delicate and nuanced, bottled at the perfect proof, may not hold up to adding water. The 1:26 finish was impressive.

1. Glass A, Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old – Peaches, apricot, brown sugar; “Wow … that’s gorgeous.” Powerful caramel, more apricot, brown sugar, peaches. Cross between brown sugar dessert and peach cobbler with a rush of caramel. Complex, velvety, coats the palate like butter. Rush of black pepper spice at the back of the palate. “Glass A is an experience.” Concludes it is more nuanced, delicate and complex. The 2:02 finish ultimately decides it.

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