I had my first taste of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year in 2012, at the ripe old age of 44.
Christmas Eve to be exact. It was smooth, rich and delicious as expected.
I even gave a taste to my wife, a wine drinker. She drank it neat and loved it.
After a relaxing day (the first Christmas Eve that has ever been relaxing) I made some oyster stew from a recipe from Esquire Magazine. It's my new two-year tradition. I enjoyed a few bowls of that with a Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada, one of my favorite seasonals.
Then as the evening grew to a close, and the kids' bedtime grew closer, I pulled the red velvet bag down and gave myself a Christmas Eve present.
Don’t know about you, but we used to open one “special” one the night before Christmas when I was growing up. And this was indeed a special one.
Now I am not one to break down every nuance of flavor when I drink my bourbon. Ok if you do, but just too much detail for my taste, I prefer to savor the moment. Maybe I’ll get there one day, but for now you’ll have to settle for a more ambiguous description.
The first thought that comes to mind is the color as you pour it into the glass. Much darker and fuller than most of what I drink. When it comes to taste, it is subtle, full-bodied and thick. It goes down smooth, like liquid silk, finishing nicely with no overly ethanol kickback.
Now I had planned to stretch this bottle out until the next one became available in the fall, but that didn’t work.
I did save it for a few special occasions.
New Year’s. My birthday. And once I ran out of my everyday and didn’t feel like getting out so I had to have a taste then as well.
Finally I took my last sip on February 21st in celebration of the writer, David Foster Wallace’s birth. I found out later he was a Wild Turkey drinker.
Unfortunately, he PVW didn’t make it to the birthday of one of my favorite writers and bourbon drinkers, Walker Percy.
Possibly that's part of the charm in Pappy Van Winkle. It is scarce. You can run out of it and then you have to wait for it.
In a way, the expectation and the anticipation make it even more glorious.
When you find it, you want to savor it because when it's gone, it's gone.
You know you can’t just rush out and get another bottle like you can with 99.9% of the things you want.
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