Some Excerpts on Finding Pappy Van Winkle and Some Good Alternatives If You Can’t

  • ‘My advice is to go to a little pa-and-ma store that’s out of the way,’ Brown said. ‘You might find it on the shelf.’
  • Louisville-based bourbon author Fred Minnick said some of the most sought-after bourbons on the market include not just Pappy and Antique Collection, but Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch (2012 and 2013), Michter’s 20 Year Old, and Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Old Rye. Heck, Minnick noted that bourbon is so popular now that even the widely distributed Maker’s Mark has been known to run out, which prompted the distillery to dilute the product, creating aconsumer backlash on social media earlier this year.
  • So, what does one do for good bourbon if your local store can’t get it for you? If you can’t have your Pappy, should you just drink water? Not at all. Salsbury said there are plenty of good bourbons with the same flavor profile as the hard-to-find brands. For instance, he prefers a brand called Wathen’s, a single-barrel bourbon made in Owensboro. It’s plentiful and affordable — which is probably why there isn’t a frenzy over it.
  • Salsbury said he also sells a lot of Elmer T. Lee and Johnny Drum bourbon, along with Four Roses brand bourbons. In fact, Four Roses is getting creative with how it promotes its bourbon. Highland Liquors has a Four Roses in stock that is exclusive to the store. Essentially, the liquor store’s owner went to Four Roses, picked a barrel, and Four Roses bottled that bourbon exclusively for him as “Bryan’s Pick.”
  • The Silver Dollar’s Larry Rice recommends Weller 12 Year Old or Weller 107 Wheated as a replacement for Pappy. “That’s your closest flavor profile,” he said.


Read the whole article:

Looking for a Bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon this Christmas? Good Luck



This year I came up short. After two very good years — beginner’s luck, I guess — I didn’t score any Pappy in 2013. Maybe my bottle was in one of the 65 cases stolen in October. October’s always been a weird month. I used to work for a company that analyzed the stock market and the market always seemed to go into crazy fits and starts during the month of October – maybe it had something to do with the dark side of the moon. And speaking of the Dark Side of the Moon, the greatest album ever — by Pink Floyd — celebrated its 40th anniversary in March of 2013.

But let’s get back to the brown stuff. I did try a few bourbons that were new to me and in a much more affordable price range than Pappy. Elmer T. Lee’s Single Barrel was one of the best. I think I paid $29.95 for a 750ml bottle. I bought it on July 16, the day Lee died after 93 years. I thought it was a good way to pay tribute to the first master distiller. Out of all the new bourbons I tried in 2103, I enjoyed Elmer T. the most. I was on a tight budget so most of the bourbons I purchased were in the $25 to $35 range. Elmer T. Lee SB, Four Roses Small Batch, and Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003 and 2000 provided the greatest taste for the dollar. All the bourbons tasted respectable for a bargain price. Each is hearty enough to sip neat and inexpensive enough to enjoy regularly. If you want to save $5 or $10 more a bottle, there’s always Buffalo Trace – the best value in the bourbon universe. For a few dollars less, try W.L. Weller Special Reserve and Evan Williams Black – though EVB works best in cocktails or mixed with coke or lemonade in the summer.

I live on the coast – Tybee Island – and prefer a cold drink with bourbon to a beer on the beach most of the time. Plus, you don’t have to lug such a big, heavy cooler around.  Mix you a jug of Manhattans, Bourbon and Cokes, or bourbon and lemonade (Simply Lemonade works best) and hit the beach. Or liven up your Eggnog for an affordable price during the holidays.

Speaking of the holidays, this year — 2013 — is in the books. It hasn’t always been an easy one, but the joy of sipping a strong and tasty glass of bourbon after a hard day is one of my simple pleasures. It’s a ritual of slowing down, lubricating the mind and emotions, and tasting life again. My dad once told me – when I asked him why he drank Manhattans – that the second Manhattan opens the eye of the soul. And even though, he makes his with Jack Daniels, I think he’s on to something. Bourbon was made to sip — not chug.  One of my favorite things to do if the day has sucked me dry is pour a glass of the good stuff, turn on some music – Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue works best or maybe some Wilco or PFs Dark Side – and sip and enjoy the good warm feeling that rises up inside of me. Have a Pappy New Year, or (if you can’t find Pappy — who can?) — celebrate with whatever bourbon makes you laugh, celebrate 2013, and move on to 2014.

THE LIST (so far) or Where to Find Pappy Van Winkle

When I started this site months ago. I had a dream, albeit a humble one. It wasn’t to change the world, but rather to find a tasty corn elixir distilled in Kentucky. I had read an article about it, by a guy, a sportswriter dude, that was also a damned good bourbon storyteller. I already loved bourbon but had never met Pappy, but I did and liked him. At 12, he was exceptionally good, but at 20, taste-bud blowing. Now, of course, Pappy is not a person, but a distilled bottle of sour mash that is harder to find then mermaids or gold at the end of the rainbow. But somehow, I did find it two years in a row. First the 12 year which was smooth and next the 20 year…which was…well  let’s just say I wish I had another bottle and leave it at that.

photo (23)But alas, there were no more bottles of Pappy in the land until the next go round. Fall? November? So I’ve given up. Not on Pappy. But on finding Pappy in a bottle, at least at a liquor store in this great U.S. of A. So here is my new dream and it is a bit more humble still. I will pursue Pappy in the bars across the land or overseas. Wherever it may be found. So if your favorite watering hole has it let me know. Or, if you like Wright Thompson, the before-mentioned sportswriter dude/bourbon storyteller run across it in an airport, dive bar or gastropub, please let me know and I will add it to THE LIST.

So far I have sent a few tweets out and received a few locations. Guess where? Of course, the land of Bourbon and Basketball. And my favorite monk. Yes, I have a favorite monk. Thomas Merton who lived in a hermitage near Louisville and drank bourbon and beer and wrote some profound things until he got electrocuted by a fan in Bangkok. But anyway, back to THE LIST. If you can’t have a bottle, you should at least, have a shot, a pour, or even a double if you have a Benjamin on you.

So far THE LIST is very short:

1. The Husk - Charleston, SC

2. Bluegrass Tavern - Lexington, KY

3. Parlay Social - Lexington, KY

4. The Village Idiot - Lexington, KY

5. Henry Clay’s Pub - Lexington, KY

6. Haymarket Whiskey Bar -Louisville, KY

7. Azur Restaurant and Patio - Lexington, Ky

8. The Aviary – Chicago, IL

9. Pappas Bros. Steakhouse – Dallas, TX

10. Pour Cafe and Wine Bar – Mt. Kisco, NY

11. Whiskey – Durham, NC

12. Otto’s – Covington, KY

13. Percy Street BBQ – Philadelphia, PA

14. The Crunkleton – Chapel Hill, NC

15. Palate – Millford, MI

16. Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar -Covington, KY

17. WiseGuy Lounge – Covington KY

18. Congress Street Social Club – Savannah, GA


*Thanks to all those who sent locations. Keep them coming.


The Best Bourbon You’ll Never Taste

Thanks to @BourbonBanter for bringing this article to my attention. And as @CLTBourbonClub told me via Twitter. “Pappy’s #bourbon is about as scarce in these parts as mermaids.” Oh well, I guess I will have to be happy with my one bottle a year. Give them both a follow if you haven’t already. Read the Article in Louisville Magazine.

My last PVW November 2012

My last PVW November 2012


44 Year Old Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Virgin

Okay. So sorry I fell off the earth, but your first taste of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year does that to you. Only kidding. I did take my first taste on Christmas Eve and it was smooth, rich and delicious as expected. I even gave my wife, a wine drinker, a glass of it neat and she loved it as well.

After a relaxing day, the first Christmas Eve that has ever been relaxing, I made some oyster stew from a recipe from Esquire Magazine. My two year tradition. I enjoyed a few bowls of that with a Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada, one of my favorite seasonals.

Then as the evening grew to a close, and the kids bedtime grew closer. I pulled the red velvet bag down and gave myself a Christmas Eve present. Don’t know about you, but we used to open one “special” one the night before Christmas when I was growing up. And this was indeed a special one. Now I am not one to break down every flavor nuance when I drink my bourbon. Ok if you do, but just too much detail for my taste. Maybe I’ll get there one day, but for now you’ll have to settle for a more ambiguous description.The first thought that comes to mind is the color as you pour it into the glass. Much darker and fuller than most of what I drink.

When it comes to taste it is subtle. There is a lot of precise, detailed, complex stuff going on as you sip it and swish it around in your mouth and let the deep taste set in. Very satisfying but hard to describe. And it goes down smooth, no overly ethanol kickback.

Now I had planned to stretch this bottle out until the next one became available in the fall, but that didn’t work. I did save it for special occasions. New Year’s. My birthday. And once I ran out of my everyday and didn’t feel like getting out so I had to have some then.

Finally I took my last taste on February 21st to celebrate the writer, David Foster Wallace’s birth. I found out later he was a Wild Turkey drinker. The PVW bottle didn’t make it to the birthday of one of my favorite writers and bourbon drinkers, Walker Percy.

Possibly that is part of the charm in Pappy Van Winkle. It is scarce. You can run out of it and have to wait for it. The expectation and the anticipation make it even more glorious. When you find it and savor it, you know you can’t just rush out and get another bottle like you can with 99.9% of the things you want.

Winning the Pappy Van Winkle Lottery

IMG_0635I received the news about an hour after the Pappy Van Winkle’s bottles arrived at my local liquor store. It was a day or two before Thanksgiving. The email said the PVW was here and did I want 15 or 20 year? I thought for a moment and then called as fast as I could. I was going to go for the 15 since I had tried the 12 last year (good stuff but not what Pappy was famous for). The 15-year was spoken for so I was left with the 20 year. Tough break, right? Sometimes God works in mysterious ways….

I asked for the price and was told $136.99 a bottle. Sold. I then thought about what the wife would say if she knew I spent $150 on a 750 ml bottle of bourbon. I am not a big spender when it comes to Bourbon. Normally, I go for value. My everyday is Evan Williams Black and when I splurge I usually go for Buffalo Trace – the best tasting bang for your buck in the bourbon universe at least that I have run across so far. I drink the EW in a Manhattan, or with a splash of water or an ice cube and sometimes in coke or in lemonade at the beach in the summer. The BT I almost always take neat and it more than stands up to it.

As I drove to the store, I felt giddy like I was going on my first date. I had heard so much about this bourbon and now I had scored a bottle after about 18 months of trying. I had recently visited the Old Rip Van Winkle Facebook site and realized how hard it was for most people to find. I had planned to go to Husk in Charleston, SC and put down about $47 for a pour if I did not find it by my birthday, January 31st. The wife would have loved that one too!

When I got to Habersham Beverage the cashier said I was one of the “lottery winners” and someone went to the back and got my bottle of 20-year Pappy Van Winkle. They presented it to me in a nice red velvet bag and I felt like a “winner” with a secret.

The bottle sits unopened in its hiding place waiting for Christmas Eve. On that night, I will take it down after the kids are nestled in their beds with dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads, gingerly open it with high expectation, and pour it in my whiskey snifter to savor. I will take a long draw of the aroma and then take my first sip of Pappy Van Winkle 20 year, the best bourbon in the world. Can’t wait. Cheers!

How I Met Pappy

I can hardly remember how or why I first discovered Pappy via Wright Thompson, but I do remember the first time I read Walker Percy’s essay on bourbon. Reading that essay I decided I was a bourbon drinker, not rum, not vodka, not even gin or scotch, but bourbon.

If it was good enough for Walker it was good enough for me. He was from the South and he had something deep and philosophical to say in his fiction. I liked him as a writer and I liked him as a drinker of bourbon. Then, I read about him sitting on the porch of Thomas Merton’s porch drinking bourbon with the monk and I loved it even more.

I might not be much of a Christian, but I am somewhat of a mystic. I believe there is a God, but I am not sure how to define him. Drinking bourbon is much easier to understand. Once I asked my dad why he drank Manhattans and he told me that two Manhattans open the eye of the soul. Unlike him I use bourbon and not Jack Daniels in my Manhattans, but yes I have had my soul opened by drinking bourbon.

And yes, it was Wright who introduced me to the best bourbon in the world — Pappy Van Winkle. He said if you ever find it on the shelf buy it all. If you find it in a bar order it even if it is pricey.

I found it somehow at my local liquor shop, Habersham Beverage last year. It was only the 12 year but I bought it as fast as I could.

After teaching all day at a local high school, I drove to Habersham Beverage in my hometown of Savannah, GA. I had put my name on a waiting list after reading Wright’s article months before and had received an email from the owner. I paid $60 for a bottle of 12 year.

Now I am in pursuit of the 15 year or the 20 year. If you know where some is, please let me know


Chasing Pappy Van Winkle | The Best Bourbon in the World