Rating Pappy's bourbon

February 25, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

Pappy Van Winkle makes Kentucky bourbons that range from 10 to 23 years old. What's the difference? Our writer weighs in. Warning: This test is 100% subjective.

By Brian Dumaine, senior editor at large

20-year-old / $110
Tastes like fine cognac, great for sipping with a cigar after a big plate of ribs. Its deep amber color and rich taste helped this brew win a "99" rating from the Beverage Tasting Institute, the highest ever awarded by the organization.

15-year-old / $70
This bourbon came in second after the 20-year-old in the same contest, and it's my favorite because I like the lighter taste. The 15 is the perfect balance between a blow-your-mind bourbon and a reasonable price.

10-year-old / $35
Not as sophisticated and much lighter tasting han the other two, but at the price it's perfect for parties where some serious drinking might occur. But price probably isn't enough to make dedicated Maker's Mark drinkers switch.

Back to: Creating the ultimate cult brand

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