If you prefer 90-proof to 107-proof, but you otherwise want a pretty similar experience, you could go for the slightly more aged Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot “B” 12 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey. This is where i started my Pappy collecting journey.
Two years does not create a huge difference, but this bourbon is a tad smoother than the 10 Year. There is also a modest difference in the price to reflect those additional two years of aging, but it is pretty negligible.
You might be wondering about what Lot “B” signifies in the name. Julian Van Winkle III has explained that back in 1991 at the Old Commonwealth Distillery, the 12-year old barrels were divided into Lots A and B. Lot B was the bigger of the two, so it took longer to sell. With the Lot B bourbons selling for so long, customers became well-acquainted with the name, and it stuck.
The goal of the Lot B bourbons was to convert more people who enjoyed Canadian whiskey or scotch over to bourbons with two more years of maturity. The company found a market for it, and it went on to be a success. It is 90.4-proof.
Prior to 2002, the bottle labels said “Bottled in Lawrenceburg (Kentucky). Since 2002, the labels say “Bottled in Frankfort.”
You should think about getting the 12 Year rather than the 10 Year if you think the 10 Year will be a bit too in-your-face for your tastes. The 12 Year is more subtle thanks to the extra aging and the lower proof. That means you can pick up more easily on the full bouquet of flavors.
When you open the bottle, you will pick up on scents of caramel, wood, vanilla, berries and spices. As far as taste goes, notes include caramel, cherries, clove, anise, cinnamon, and something reminiscent of baked goods. Again, it is more mellow than the 10 Year. The finish is mostly berries, but also with some oak and cinnamon.
Choose This Pappy Bourbon If:
If 107 proof is too much for you, and you prefer a somewhat smoother, mellower character than the 10 Year, then you may enjoy the Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot “B” 12 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey. As it is only marginally more expensive than the 10 Year, it also makes an excellent purchase at the lower end of the price scale for Pappy bourbons.