By now everyone knows about the search for rare bottles of Pappy Van Winkle, Willett Family Estate, or Weller Antique to name just a few. Today, even Blantons can be hard to locate. What really got my attention were the stories on recipes to mimic a bottle of Pappy. That is exactly correct; blending other easier to obtain bourbons to create a taste profile similar to the iconic Pappy Van Winkle.
Keep in mind that Pappy is available in 15, 20, and 23 year old versions. The recipe I decided to follow was to emulate the 15 year old bottle.
But first a little history on blending bourbon. As you should know by now every barrel imparts a flavor profile unique to that barrel. Even though the mash bill is identical, same grains, same yeast, and all aged for the same amount of time, two barrels can taste differently. Therefore, blending bourbon is essential when a distiller wants to create a repeatable flavor profile.
So in reading the book there was a section on Poorer Man’s Pappy which I decided was worth pursuing. It does not take much to find a reason to taste bourbon especially something that I had never tried before.
So the recipe on recreating an imitation version of Pappy was to use two wheat bourbons; Makers Mark Cask Strength and Larceny. I had already purchased a few empty 375ml bottles with new cork stoppers. After sterilizing the bottle, we created our first blend ever. However, there was no rush to try it because it was important that the two whiskeys have time to interact. This directive came straight from the book. The recipe is as follows: 67% Makers Mark Cask Strength at 110.9 proof and 33% Larceny at 92 proof. My observation of the results are as follows:
After 72 hours the bourbon was sampled. It was unique and quite enjoyable. The nose was nutmeg and some maple. This is a true wheat bourbon that is robust but sweet with easy to detect oak notes. Other samplers detected caramel with nuts. Was it a replacement for pappy, probably not, but
Enjoy your bourbon slowly and with friends when possible!