Sample Mountain Week 5: 15 year KSBW

For Week 5 of sample mountain I am tackling three 15 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskies. From lowest proof to highest we’ve got Old Soul 15 year which is the same mystery mashbill that Doc Swinson’s and Old Bones used, the 2019 release of Pappy Van Winkle 15 year and the most recent Willett distillery release.


Old Soul 15 year

Age: 15 years

Proof: 102


Nose: Familiar with roasted nuts, vanilla extract and faint spices.

Taste: Lots of vanilla with some fainter buts and caramel then oak and spice towards the end. Oddly thin mouthfeel.

Finish: Very dry finish with lingering oak and spice.

Buy a bottle? No

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year 2019

Age: 15 years

Proof: 107


Nose: Big butterscotch and oak notes and some faintly perfumey floral notes.

Taste: Butterscotch, rich oak, vanilla cream, very subtle spices. Velvety mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long with butterscotch, oak, baking spice, cinnamon and a touch of the perfume from the nose

Buy a bottle? Yes if magically found at ~300 or less/no otherwise

Willett 15 Year Gift Shop Release

Age: 15 years

Proof: 122.4

Barrel Number: 807


Nose: Peanut brittle and oak dominates with vanilla and spice in the background.

Taste: Oak, vanilla, rye spice, rich leather, caramel, faint smoke and a familiar sweet note I couldn’t put my finger on.

Finish: Extremely long with lingering caramel, nuts and oak

Buy a bottle? No, lol. It was 750 at the giftshop


To start things off the Old Soul was a letdown. Doc Swinson’s 15 year Release 6 and Old Bones were notably better than the Old Soul and have the same mashbill. The same sorts of flavors were present but the expression of those flavors and balance just wasn’t there. Add in the thin mouthfeel(maybe they proofed it down or go a really low proof batch?) and really dry finish and this bottle was not a winner. Easy pass when similar and better things are available at the same price point.

The Pappy was awesome, no way around it, but it’s not head and shoulders above more reasonable offerings and I’ll never hunt one or pay secondary. The most I’ve paid for a bottle of whiskey is around 300 and I’d do that for a bottle of PVW15 Year.

The Willett was almost assuredly Heaven Hill. The nose was underwhelming which made me a little nervous but the palate was awesome and the finish was insanely long with very good flavors. The retail price was 750 at the distillery and it does not justify that price point even though it was top tier bourbon.


TL;DR: Realistically I am not going to buy any of these. The Pappy and Willett were great, the Old Soul was a miss.


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