This past weekend, the newly formed Southern California Whiskey Club held a fantastic tasting of Stitzel-Weller whiskey juice in Little Tokyo Los Angeles. Advertised as a chance to compare two versions (Stitzel-Weller vs Buffalo Trace) of the much-hyped Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old bourbon, the event was, of course, super packed with excited drinkers.
In addition to the Pappy 20s, we were treated to nine other bourbons….
.. and with the exception of the last dram, the tasting was done in pairs.
We started with two versions of Cabin Still. Comparing the older Cabin Still from 1989 ( Grade B-) versus the 2012 (Grade C), it was pretty much the consensus around me (mostly LA Scotch Club members) that the older stuff was better but not by much. Curiously, the Cabin Still 1989 tasted a lot like the Knob Creek bourbon I pick up at my local Costco.
Next, we moved on to the Old Fitzgerald BIB DSP-KY-16 (Stitzel-Weller) and the Old Fitz BIB DSP-KY-1 (Bernheim/ Heaven Hill) which was also pretty telling. I gave them grades of B- and C+, respectively. Pretty forgettable.
Moving on, the Very Special Old Fitzgerald BHC Louisville 1994 and the current 2012 12 year old Very Special Old Fitz were comparable. I did, however, get a wine finish on the older one. That was interesting. Still, I gave them both a grade of B-. I’ll drink it but I won’t buy a bottle for myself.
About three quarters of the way into the night, we were finally allocated our drams of the Pappy Van Winkle 20 year olds. And you know what? Pappy is a good whiskey, if you can get it for a non-inflated retail price. I gave these two both Bs, with the newer one a slight edge; it had more depth in character. Really, it was really splitting hairs. With that said, I still prefer the cask strength 15 year old Pappy Van Winkle.
Then, we moved on to the W.L. .Weller bottles. Specifically, the Special Reserve 7 year 1995 and the Centennial 10 year BHC Louisville 1994. I may get some slack for this, but I found the Special Reserve 7 year to be better than the Centennial. In fact, I gave it the highest rating (B+) of the bourbons that I had that night. Still, the Centennial deserved a solid B. I just found the Special Reserve 7 year to be incredibly smooth; it was like a more complex Maker’s Mark.
We concluded the night with the 90 proof Rebel Yell with the 1982 Tax Stamp. Honestly, I don’t remember much what this tasted like. I think the alcohol from the other pours was kicking in. I did scribble a B in my tasting notes so it couldn’t have been bad!
Really, I had a lot of fun.
The founders of SCWC, CU and MR, did a great job keeping things loose and casual yet organized. I look forward to attending many more of their events in the future.