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Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old 2020 Lot B – Review

The shadows deepen, firelight dances on amber depths. In my hand, a legend cradled in glass – Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old, Lot B, 2020. Twelve years whispered within, secrets waiting to unfurl on my tongue. Tonight, we crack open the hype, let the bourbon tell its tale, and see if it’s truly gold at the end of the rainbow. Stay tuned, friends, for a sip into liquid history. ✨

Exact Whiskey Name: Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old 2020 Lot B
Producer: Buffalo Trace Distillery (Frankfort, Kentucky)
Country/Region of Origin: United States, Kentucky
Grain Bill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% wheat
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Style: Wheated bourbon
Aroma: Rich and complex, with pronounced notes of toffee, brown sugar, baking spices, ripe stone fruit (peach, apricot), citrus, and a hint of floral honey.
Vintage Year: Not applicable (a blend of whiskeys aged 10–12 years)
Price Range: $900-$1999 (potentially exceeding $2000 on the market due to limited availability)
ABV: 90.4 proof (45.2% alcohol by volume)
Awards Won: Numerous, including:World’s Best Bourbon – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2020
Double Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2020
Flavor Profile Details:Smooth and full-bodied, with a complex interplay of sweetness, spice, and oak. Compared to Lot A, some tasters find Lot B slightly fruitier and sweeter, with hints of peach, apricot, and citrus alongside the rich toffee and caramel notes.
Expect a long, lingering finish with a touch of warming spice.
Peak Drinking Window: Enjoyable now, but can age further for some additional complexity.
Classification Status: Premium/Luxury bourbon

Testing Notes – Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old

In a dim-lit room, amber glinted in the glass, the liquid swirling with the weight of twelve years. It was Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old, Lot B, 2020; a coveted sip, shrouded in legend and hype. I lifted the glass, inhaling the first whisper of its secrets.

A warm wave of toffee embraced my senses, laced with hints of candied orange peel and spiced apple. Caramel notes lingered, mingling with whispers of toasted almond and a gentle kiss of oak. As I tasted, the initial sweetness yielded to a deeper complexity. Honeycomb and vanilla melded with a whisper of cinnamon and clove, dancing on the tongue with a playful spiciness. The wheated mash bill whispered its presence, offering a smooth canvas for the symphony of flavors.

Time stretched as I savored each sip, the bourbon unfurling its layers with each swallow. The finish was long and elegant, a whisper of smoke trailing off amidst lingering notes of dark chocolate and dried fruit. It was a finish that resonated, leaving me wanting to chase the echo of its warmth.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year is a highly acclaimed bourbon whiskey that is undoubtedly worth trying if you can find it and are willing to pay the price. However, its limited availability and high cost make it a luxury item for serious bourbon enthusiasts.


  • Exceptionally smooth and flavorful bourbon.
  • Highly regarded by critics and enthusiasts.
  • Complex and nuanced aroma and taste profile.
  • Beautiful amber color.
  • Fruitier notes in Lot B offer a refreshing twist on the classic Van Winkle profile.
  • Excellent with rich and decadent food pairings.


  • Extremely limited availability and high demand, making it difficult to find and expensive to purchase.
  • Not a budget-friendly option.
  • The wheated mash bill may not appeal to everyone who prefers a spicier bourbon.


  • Drinkability 5.0/5
  • Food Pairing 5.0/5
  • Value for Money 3.5/5
  • Personal Preference 5.0/5

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old, Lot B, 2020 is not just a bourbon; it’s an experience. It’s a story told in amber, a melody of flavors that lingers long after the last drop. It is a testament to the art of time and craft, a masterpiece deserving of quiet contemplation and slow enjoyment. As the empty glass reflected the dying embers of the room, I knew this was a sip I would carry with me, a whispered memory of liquid gold.

Beyond the Glass: Where to Take Your Van Winkle Adventure

We’ve uncorked the amber magic, savored the symphony of flavors in Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old, Lot B, 2020. But the journey doesn’t end there, friends. Now, let’s paint the perfect canvas for this liquid masterpiece with food pairings that sing, and explore the ideal moments to let your palate bask in its glory.

Where Flavors Collide: Pairing Perfection:

Embrace the Bold: Think fire-kissed feasts! Roasted meats, their juices glistening with smoke and spice, find a soulmate in the bourbon’s caramel and oak. Smoked ribs, a touch of char on their edges, dance with the honeyed sweetness. Aged cheeses, sharp and complex, offer a salty tango to the wheated smoothness.

Fruity Interludes: But Lot B whispers a secret symphony of fruit too. Glazed pork belly, its sticky sweetness laced with ginger, echoes the bourbon’s apricot whispers. Duck a l’orange, its citrus zest a playful counterpoint, adds a refreshing twist to the rich tapestry.

Lights, Camera, Avoid:

A Gentle Hand: Salads, delicate greens, and pristine seafood might shy away from the bourbon’s bold embrace. Let them have their own spotlight, while your Van Winkle takes center stage with its richer companions.

Indulgence Unbound: When to Savor the Sip:

After the Applause: Let the final curtain fall on a satisfying meal. In the quiet intimacy of after-dinner moments, pour a neat dram, watch the ice dance if you must, and let the Van Winkle tell its story in slow, deliberate sips. It’s a conversation best savored without distractions, a whispered serenade to a perfect ending.

Van Winkle Special Reserve: Untangling the Whispers

The amber swirls in your glass, a legend cradled in crystal. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old, Lot B, 2020. But the whispers surrounding this bourbon can be as intoxicating as its aroma. Let’s untangle the facts and swirl away the myth, shall we?

Pappy? Not Quite:

While Van Winkle Special Reserve carries prestige, it’s not quite “Pappy.” The Pappy Van Winkle line refers to specific, more aged offerings from the same producer. Think of Van Winkle Special Reserve as the talented older sibling, paving the way for Pappy’s legendary status.

The Price Tag: Liquid History:

Van Winkle’s hefty price tag stems from a confluence of factors. Limited production, meticulous aging, and skyrocketing demand create a perfect storm of exclusivity. You’re not just paying for bourbon; you’re paying for a whisper of history, a liquid time capsule crafted with painstaking detail.

Whiskey’s Million-Dollar Mile:

But Van Winkle isn’t the only record-breaking spirit. The Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami Edition holds the world’s current whiskey auction record at a staggering $1.5 million. While Van Winkle might not reach such astronomical heights, its own value lies in the intricate dance of flavor it offers, not just a hefty price tag.

In Conclusion: A Toast to Whispered Gold

The Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old, Lot B, 2020 is more than just a bourbon; it’s an experience. It’s a melody of flavors whispered in amber, a story told in each sip, a testament to time and craft. We’ve delved into its secrets, savored its symphony, and now, we raise a final toast to its legacy.

This bourbon demands a bold canvas, its rich caramel and oak harmonies finding perfect partners in roasted meats, smoked ribs, and aged cheeses. The fruitier whispers of Lot B welcome glazed pork belly and duck a l’orange, creating a playful dance on the palate.

But remember, delicacy deserves its own stage. Let salads and seafood shine on their own, while your Van Winkle takes center stage under the warm glow of after-dinner serenity. Neat or on the rocks, with each slow, deliberate sip, the bourbon unfolds its whispered secrets, leaving you with a memory of liquid gold.

Your FAQs, Answered:

Is Van Winkle Special Reserve the same as Pappy?

No, but it’s from the same producer and shares a similar wheated mash bill. Think of it as a sophisticated step towards the Pappy experience.

Why is Van Winkle expensive?

Limited production, long aging, and high demand collide to create exclusivity and a premium price tag. You’re paying for both bourbon and the allure of rarity.

What whiskey sold for 1.5 million?

The Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami Edition currently holds the title, but Van Winkle’s true value lies in its unique flavor profile and historical significance.