Pappy Van Winkle Laser Code

The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery Bottling Code

Since the bottling code (or laser code) of the Van Winkle bottles changed in the fall of 2011, there has been some confusion about how to read the new code, and what the code can and cannot tell you.

The code in itself can not define if the bottle is either Stitzel-Weller stock or Buffalo Trace stock, only that your bottle is bottled at either Buffalo Trace or the other Sazerac owned bottling locations. No bourbon is bottled at the S-W distillery anymore, so there is no S-W code or indicator. The only way to determine that is to know what year the brand in question switched over.

Since it is safe to assume that there are no dusty Pappy Van Winkle bottles sitting on a shelf anywhere in the United States, so if you buy a bottle today, it is most likely from the same calendar year. If you get a bottle from a friend or in a trade, and your code doesn’t look like the code below, it is probably from before 2011. You can check out SKU’s Recent Eats for the old code.

Example Code as of 2011: B1222312:49M

2012 Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year

2012 Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year

The B indicates that your bottle was bottled at Buffalo Trace

The 12 is the two digit year, 2012

The 223 is the julian date that it was bottled, August 10th

The 12:49 is the time on a 24 hour clock, 12:49 PM

The letter M on the end of the code is the bottling line it came down, Line M at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. 

S-W or BT

As of the 2012 release, everything 15 years old and younger was pure Buffalo Trace bourbon. The 12 year Lot B switched over around 2007, give or take a year. The Old Rip is most likely two years before that.

The PVW 20 & 23 are both combinations of S-W & BT bourbon, with no definitive answer of when it will be all BT in sight. The question with the 20 and 23 is not so much about whether a specific year is S-W or BT, but whether they are S-W, BT, Bernheim or another distillery? Anyone that cares to offer clarification, please feel free.

I imagine at some point soon, an announcement will be made and many tears will be shed once the last barrel of Stitzel-Weller bourbon has been dumped. Until then we can only speculate.

13 responses to “Pappy Van Winkle Laser Code

  1. excellent info. Any idea with the numbering on the 13 Rye? No code like the bourbon, 2 bottles I own do not even have a barcode on the back.


      • One B lot B4410, One C2332, and two A lots A0452, A0350.
        The B&C lots have a barcode on the back not covering anything up, and lower right front 04 6124, the two A lots have 04 6121 on lower right front. So far B lot all gone and most of A lot. Both superb. A lot is richer/denser like bottom of barrel in a good way, more spice.


  2. I just bought the 20 yr and can’t find the lasered lot numbers anywhere on the bottle. I even looked under the paper labels using a flashlight with no luck. Do some bottles not have the numbers?


      • Thanks for the response. I actually just got off the phone with the PVW office and the gentleman told me it’s not uncommon for the laser code to be under the label or not have the code at all because it was missed when bottled.


      • I just talked with the PVW office and they said that sometimes the codes end up under the labels or get missed entirely. He said it is not uncommon that a bottle would be missing the numbers.


    • Turn the bottle upside down so there is no bourbon in the bottle. The number should be under the back label. With the bottle turned up, the number will be above the label.


    • You win, mine was from a week before yours. That makes the stolen Pappy so much more suspicious. They might have been sitting in a warehouse for a week or two, tops. The person that took it probably had keys to the place.


  3. I have a bottle of pappy 15 without any bar or SKU code at all. I read the article so I could understand the age, origin etc but my bottle has no codes at all. Does that mean my bottle of 15 is original SW or is it because I bought it in the UK.


    • Unfortunately a lot of bottles don’t have codes for a lot of reasons. People on the secondary market clean them off to make it look like pre-code (sw) Pappy, since the only other identifier is green glass on 20 years and raised print on 15s and 20s. Other times, the code gets covered up by the label, so I would shine a light under the bottle and look for a code under the labels. Or, the machine just misfired and you didn’t get a code for no good reason at all. There is no way to tell definitively.


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