For reasons we could discuss for multiple posts, Van Winkle bourbons are highly regarded. I am certainly among those who count them among the best bourbons out there, availability not withstanding. They are not inexpensive, and if you are one of those folks who is very conscious of value in what you drink in bourbons, they may indeed not be for you. And, if this is you, let me assure you that there is no one on this site or any other who has a compelling argument against your position of value. The difference betwixt the cheapest, but quite good, bourbons, and those costing much more is not really all that great.
But, gentle reader, there is (my opinion, a very defensible postions) a REAL difference, and it does not lie completely with one's palate alone. Whether you can or want to make yourself aware of that difference is entirely up to you. For your benefit and edification there are many posts on this site devoted, directly or indirectly, to this topic.
I submit to you that it is not, in the best case, just bourbon snobbery that drives some folks to pay for more expensive bourbons. While what drives them (us) is not completely admirable in comparasion to what Jesus would do, it is far more human and commendable (my opinion) than the baser motive of snobbery.
Why would we pay $55 (last purchase) for 15 YO Pappy, and then pay $110 (last purchase) for 20 YO Pappy (beyond the fact that we may be foolish)? The best answer is that we LOVE bourbon and want to try it in its various manifestations. Aside from a too deep psychological (and dubious) analysis, we want to explore the subtle differences betwixt a 15 YO bourbon and a 20 YO bourbon, Call me the fool with money, which I am willing to waste, if you will. I happen to think (or better yet, sense) that it is worth the difference, and furthermore, am willing to spend the difference to experience the difference between a 15 YO Pappy and a 20 Yo Pappy. I am not, by the way, willing to jump to the Pappy 23 YO at $299 (which I have tried on two other occasions when it was priced at about $100 a bottle) when experience tells me it is too woody.
This bourbon philosophy is of a piece with my own personal philosophy that as an American, I cannot avoid making way too many choices.........along with our freedoms, come a bundle of decisions, that, if we are not to opt out, can be a plague to us.
At times, we must ignore the ridiculous claims of partisans of left and right, and stake our ground on favored bourbons..........some of us know, in spite of the volume of counter claims, that these decisions say as much about us as any others...............do not be fooled into believing that how you approach bourbon is less importnat than anything you will ever do. It is YOU who makes these decions, and it s revelatory of you as a person.
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