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This is the coveted 20yr entry in the Pappy Van Winkle line of bottlings under the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery banner, produced at Buffalo Trace. It's been some time since I had this, and it's always refreshing to try a different release year. This review will wrap up the Pappy side of my ongoing Pappy vs Antique Collection series thats slowly rolling out as I march towards 1600 reviews, and I'm looking forward to it. Stock image from BT. Let's dive in.
Leather and pepper on the nose first before a hit of tannins and some oak. Cherry, vanilla, a hint of pepper and some ccooa. The tannins are heavy on the nose but not dominating, and I'm really enjoying that bright cherry note.
Medium mouth feel, though it coats the palate nicely. Not too rich, but plenty going on. Vanilla bean, warm toffee and caramel, some cherry. All the hallmark notes of a nice wheater here, and they carry surprisingly well for the lower proof. On the back palate the oak really storms in, starting to dry out things and wisp away some of that sweet dessert flavor.
Long long finish, but really oaky, tannic and dry. It's a bit too oaky here for me, and drinks like a big Cali cab leaving things bone dry as they pack up and move on.
Overall, this is pretty darn good. I like it better than the 23yr, but not as much as the 15yr. The oak is just a bit too heavy handed here. If that finish were buttoned up a little better, this could easily go higher like the 15yr release. The palate is really nice, and hits all those dessert notes that I love to see in a bourbon with a higher age statement.