Nov 11, 2015

Poor Man's Pappy: How to "Make" Your Own Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon... No Waiting List Required

If you know anything about bourbon, you've no doubt heard the fables of Pappy Van Winkle, one of the most hard-to-find and sought-after bottles on the market. It's become the stuff of legend, perhaps better known for its rarity than its flavor. Or, if reports are to be believed, perhaps not. People say it's pretty amazing.   But if you do know anything about bourbon, you also know that almost all the bourbons available on liquor store shelves come from the same ten or so basic recipes, or mashbills, and that the variety comes from how and where they're aged. So, you can easily get the same bulk liquid spirit that becomes Pappy, but has been aged differently.

Here's how it works. Pappy Van Winkle is made at the Buffalo Trace distillery, and is made from their wheated mashbill. A little further down the family tree from Pappy is Buffalo Trace's other wheated bourbons, including several bottled under the W.L. Weller name, and these are what you can hack. 

Blake from the Bourbonr blog offers a recipe that combines two varieties of Weller bourbons and a bit of limestone spring water that, apparently, comes very, very, very close to the 107-proof Pappy 15-year. 

Does it work? I don't know, I haven't tried it. But I haven't tried Pappy either, and the opportunity to see what the fuss is about by mixing two sub $25 bottles sounds like a worthwhile experiment to me. No matter what happens, I'll end up with 1.5 liters of really good bourbon that's makes a daily sip into something special. Works for me.

Pappy Van Winkle Alternative [Bourbonr.com]




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Chris on Nov 11, 2015:

@Bourbon guy - that's pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing. While not 107 in proof or 15 in age, does the resulting mixture taste anything like Pappy 15? Is it delicious regardless of origin?

Anonymous on Nov 11, 2015:

Hey Chris,

While this blend is delicious, it is worth noting that it did no originate as "Poor Man's Pappy" rather it was created to replace a discontinued product, Weller Centennial, a 10 year 100 proof wheated bourbon. Mixing Weller 107 (7ish years) and Weller 12 (90 proof) gave you a close approximation. Not sure when people started calling it Poor Man's Pappy, but combining those two products doesn't get you any closer to a Van Winkle product in age or proof.


Bourbon guy