For this throwdown, I have four too expensive but well aged wheat bourbons. The Pappy samples come for stocks I have had for quite some time, back when they were not cheap, but well before they became so scarce and outrageously expensive.
(1) Parker's Heritage Collection 10 YO Wheat bourbon 127.8 barrel proof (reduced to 101 proof)
(2) Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15 YO wheat bourbon 107 proof
(3) Jefferson's Presidential Select, a 17 YO Stitzel Weller wheat bourbon 94 proof
(4) Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 20 YO wheat bourbon 90.4 proof
The higher proof bourbons (PHC and Pappy 15) have a richer and creamier opening attack with lots of vanilla and caramel. The PHC has a nice thin layer of chocolate ably assisted by some mapley sweetness. The Pappy has a bit more spicey cinnamon and, as might be expected, more oak tannins.
The lower proof bourbons (JPR and Pappy 20) are softer. The JPR is quite soft with very light spice which makes for some nice delicacy. It has mild tannins. The Pappy 20 has a bit more spice (both Pappy whiskies have a nice dose of spice for wheat bourbons) than the JPR but a lot more tannins.
Because all these bourbons (if you can find them now) are quite (and even outrageously) expensive, who, in his/her right mind would recommend them? I am not here to recommend them, nor to defend them. But, because they all have a certain bourbon 'reputation', and because I have them on hand (maybe me own foolishness in buying them), I report, you decide. I report mostly because it is fun for me to do so, and, I assume this 'throwdown' will provide a small amount of entertainment value, and maybe even an astute reply......... easily within the knowledge and talents of many Bourbon Enthusiasts.
I will not be coy in my evalutation of these excellent bourbons. Allow me, if you please, this aside......... if one who is exposed to all these bourbons of some reputation, one were to find none with which one is satisfied, do me the kindness of foregoing any discussion with me about bourbons. They each do have great merit.
I will now be coy, or rather, make a bow to the mood of the circumstance when I sip each bourbon, evalutating each of these bourbons more by mood than by some imagined qualitative yardstick. This is based on the belief that each time you drink, among favored bourbons, what you find favorable in bourbon is to be defined by what your mood is calling for at that time. Now, this is based on me own experience............ sometimes me favors a spicey bourbon, sometimes me favors a soft bourbon, sometimes me favors a balanced bourbon, somtimes me favors an 'in your face bourbon'. What me never favors is a bourbon with too much tannins (bitter) or a bourbon with edges (sour, sharp, no balance - a file down your throat bourbon).
Now, given all that, I still (as always proclaimed) tend to favor older 'barely' bourbons in the final analysis.......... a subjective thing to be sure. Thus, you have this post.
I take the liberty to put up this post, not because I am particularily astute about bourbon, but because I am indeed a BourbonEnthusiast, and because I have a wide experience with bourbons and represent a point of view in regard to older bourbons that deserves consideration..... among other viewpoints.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas