Pappy is rich in lore and scandal
Fundamentally, bourbon is whiskey, which is derived from a fermented mash of grains, such as barley, rye, and corn. Bourbon is made exclusively in the US from at least 51% corn. (But not more than 79% corn mash.) To be classified as bourbon the whiskey must also spend at least two years in heavily charred oak barrels, and be no more than 160 proof. Besides the grain mash, only water is allowed in bourbon.
While most bourbons are made from corn, rye, and barley, Old Rip Van Winkle uses corn, wheat, and barley in its reserve product. This uncommon wheated recipe gives the whiskey a softer, sweeter profile with more caramel notes.
Pappy is rich in lore, scandal, and history, too. The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery started off in the late 1800s when Julian Van Winkle, a salesman with W.L. Weller and Sons wholesale bought the house and then the distillery that made whiskey for Weller -- A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery. In the early 1920s, while most spirit producers were closing shop during Prohibition, Van Winkle got a stranglehold on the booze biz by nabbing one of just six US permits to produce medicinal whiskey. (Because remember kids, bourbon cures.) So, when Prohibition ended in 1933, Van Winkle had the kind of back stock needed to create an aged bourbon whiskey. And others had none.