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 named Pappy Van Winkle.
I had read an article about it, by a guy, a sportswriter, 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.
Beginner's Luck --- Finding Pappy Van Winkle
But somehow, I did find it two years in a row.
First Pappy Van Winkle 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.
No More Pappy
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 Van Winkle in a bottle, at least at a liquor store in this great U.S. of A.
My New Dream
So here is my new dream and it's 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/bourbon storyteller -- run across it in an airport, dive bar or high-class bourbon bar, please let me know and I'll add it to THE LIST.
So far I have sent a few tweets out and received a few locations.
Kentucky -- The Epicenter of the Bourbon Universe, BBall and My Fav Monk
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 nice, crisp benjamin (Franklin) on you.
So far THE LIST is very short (but growing):
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. Otto's - Covington, KY
12. Percy Street BBQ - Philadelphia, PA
13. The Crunkleton - Chapel Hill, NC
14. Palate - Millford, MI
15. Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar -Covington, KY
16. WiseGuy Lounge - Covington KY
17. Congress Street Social Club - Savannah, GA
18. Seven Grand in Downtown LA - Los Angeles, CA
21. On The Rocks - New York, NY
22. Hardwater Bar on Pier 3 San Francisco - San Francisco, CA
23. Charr'd Bourbon Kitchen and Lounge - Louisville, KY
24. Noorman's Kil - Brooklyn, NY
25. The Rhino - Missoula, MT
26. Acacia - Pittsburgh, PA
27. Butcher & the Rye - Pittsburgh, PA
28. Red Fish Grill - New Orleans, LA
29. Stache - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
30. Luxbar - Chicago, IL
31. Jack Rose Dining Saloon - Washington, D.C.
32. Hotel at The Lafayette - Buffalo NY
33. The Silver Dollar - Louisville, KY
34. Gamlin Whiskey House - St. Louis, MO
35. McCormacks Whiskey Grill - Richmond, VA
36. Murphy's Irish Pub - Sonoma, CA
37. Social Southern Table & Bar - Lafayette, LA
38. The Hamilton Kitchen and Bar - Allentown, PA
39. Twisted Spoke - Chicago, IL
40. Tate's - Dallas, TX
41. Lilly’s Bistro - Louisville, KY
42. Rickhouse - Bardstown, KY
43. Springhouse - Alexander City, AL
42. Rye on Market - Louisville, KY
43. Bourbon’s Bistro - Louisville, KY
44. Proof on Main St. - Louisville, KY
45. Doc Crow’s - Louisville, KY
46. Seviche a Latin Restaurant - Louisville, KY
47. Z’s Oyster Bar & Steakhouse - Louisville, KY
48. The Old Seelbach Bar - Louisville, KY
49. The Old Bourbon County Kitchen (OBC Kitchen) - Lexington, KY
50. Longman and Eagle - Chicago, IL.
51. Eddie V’s - Tampa, FL
52. Half Barrel - Knoxville TN
53. Spark’s Steak House - Manhattan, NY
54. Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant - Newport, RI
55. Bourbon - Columbia, SC
56. Barrelhouse Flat - Chicago, IL
57. Foxes Cigar Lounge - Gilbert, AZ
58. Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant - Newport, RI
63. Black Fly - St Augustine, FL
"10 and the 12 year bottles"
64. Morimoto - Napa, CA
65. Parker Garage - Parker, CO
"They have the 12, 20 and 23"
"Pappy 15-$29 glass"
"Has all 6 Van Winkle marks. His place rocks! One of the best whiskey spots anywhere!"
"They have every PVW year plus many other very rare bourbons at the cheapest prices I’ve ever found. Awesome place."
"Has a little 23 left for $110/pour, and I believe a younger also, but don’t recall price."
"$95 a shot for the 23."
Stay updated on the Pappy List.
*Thanks to all those who sent locations. Keep them coming.
"12 year, $32 for 2oz and 15 year, $48 for 2oz."
10yr $12, 12yr $15, 15yr $25, 20yr $35, 23yr $55
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (E Concourse)
"They have the 12, 15 & 23 year. Great food and atmosphere too."
"I physically held the bottle. Asked how much for a shot? $150 for the 23-year."
"They have Old Rip, 15 and I think 20 (if not 1 more). They even serve a Pappy 15 Old Fashion on the menu, but I’d rather have it without bitters, sugar and orange"
10,12,15,20, & 23
96. Oblix, The Shard - 31 St Thomas St, London, SE1 9RY
Prices per 50ml shot: 13 yr ($50), 15 yr ($57), 20 yr ($67), 23 yr ($116)
97. Delta Sky Club Lounges - Atlanta, GA (Airport)
98. Whiskey Down at MGM Grande - Las Vegas, NV
"had 3-4 bottles of Pappy including lot b but they also had a bottle of 17 yr old hand made Special Reserve barreled in 1974 bottled in 1994 101 proof"
99. The Federal Grill - Houston, TX
"10yr, 12yr, 15yr, 20yr and 23yr very reasonable!"
100. The Metropolitan Grille - Seattle, WA
"has 20 and 23 year old Pappy"
101. Japango - Boulder, CO
"a Japanese and Sushi restaurant in Boulder CO, we typically get a large allocation due to our relationship and volume with Buffalo Trace, and in general our reputation for our whiskey and bourbon selection. We had our own Weller barrel this past year, and we will have our own single barrel of both Eagle rare, and Buffalo Trace for 2017. We typically have all Pappy's throughout the year, as well as the complete antique collection. Largest Japanese whiskey selection in CO as well."
102. Barleymash - San Diego, CA
"They had a few options (this was a year ago this month) but I had the 12 at the time.”
103. 35 Steak House + Martini Bar at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Las Vegas, NV
104. The Collins Bar - Birmingham, AL
"has them all and going fast"
Just arrived in Door County! Mink River Basin (125+ whiskies!) in Ellison Bay, JJ’s in Sister Bay, Donny’s Glidden Lodge on the Lake just north of Sturgeon Bay. Cheers!
105. Mink River Basin - Ellison Bay, WI
106. JJs La Puerta - Sister Bay, WI
107. Donny’s Glidden Lodge - Sturgeon Bay, WI
20 year 2 oz pour is $60"
"has the 10 and 12 as of this evening."
122. GT Fish & Oyster - Chicago, IL
123. Kirby's Prime Steakhouse - Woodlands, TX
"has 10, 15 & 20 as of New Years Eve"
124. Mad Oak Bar 'n' Yard - Oakland, CA
"We have tons of Pappy on hand. 10yr, 12yr, 13yr, 15yr, 20yr & 23yr.
125. Emeril's Delmonico - New Orleans, LA
126. Prohibition Kitchen - St. Augustine, FL
"They have the 10, 12 and 15, starting at 20 a shot."
127. Joe's Stone Crab - Miami Beach, Florida
128. Maxie’s Southern Comfort - Milwaukee, WI
129. Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar - Galt House - Louisville, KY
130. Industry Public House - Pittsburgh, PA (near Pittsburgh International Airport)
"has Pappy 15 as of New Years Eve at $50 a pour"
131. The Reeds at Shelter Haven - Stone Harbor, NJ
132. JW Marriott Hill Country Resort/Crooked Branch Bar - San Antonio
"located downstairs from the lobby. Bring $$$ as 10 yr goes for $42 a shot and the 23yr is going to run about $250!!! The 10yr is seeing some love but the 23 is still sealed."
133. Kindred Fare - Geneva, New York
134. Cask & Ale - Madison, WI
"Old Van Winkle 10 & 12, Pappy's 15, 20, 23, and the Van Winkle rye."
135. Shellys Backroom Cigar Bar - Washington, DC
"Drank the last of the 12 yr and most of a brand new 10yr! No one thought much of it!! Only 16$ per shot of 10, and 23$ for 12!!!!"
136. Peacock Inn - Princeton, NJ
137. The Observatory - Spokane, WA
"12 year $25, 23 year $75"
138. The Padre Hotel - Bakersfield, CA
139. Rumi’s Kitchen - Atlanta, GA
"has the 15, 20 and 23 yr"
140. Waterhouse Tavern - Chicago, IL
141. Bleau Bar Fontainebleau - Miami Beach, FL
"They had everything except the 15yr. Also had Macallan 1960 and 1970."
142. The Cove - Memphis, TN
"has PVW 15, 20 & 23"
143. The Bull and Bear Steakhouse in the Waldorf Astoria - Orlando FL
"had Pappy 10, Pappy 12b, Pappy 15, Pappy 20, and Pappy 23. The Pappy 23 was a staggering $350 but they had it"
144. Union Lodge No. 1 - Denver, CO
"they’ll do half pours"
145. Datz - Tampa, FL
"a bottle of 10 year"
146. Julep - Kansas City, MO
"Has 12yr Lot B($15=1oz), 15yr($30=1oz), 20yr ($50=1oz), and 23yr($75=1oz). Also has all of the BTAC."
147. Harry’s Country Club - Kansas City, MO
"Has ORVW($17=1oz), Lot B($35=1oz), 15yr($75=1oz), 20yr($150=1oz), 23yr($250=1oz). Prices are a bit insane!"
148. Southside Smokehouse & Grille - Landrum, SC
"Has Van Winkle 10 and 12! Pappy 15 and 20! Over 100 Bourbons. Ryes. and American whiskeys! Many trophy Bourbons in the inventory!"
149. Comfort - Richmond, VA.
"20 Year - Good pour and price!"
15o. 82 Queen - Charleston, SC
"has 10yr Van Winkle"
151. Bowery Bay - Astoria, New York
PVW 23 Year - $145
152. Local Gastropub – Memphis, TN
"PVW 15, 20 & 23"
153. Dakota’s Steakhouse - Dallas
"has 12-year-old Pappy’s"
154. 20byNine – Martha’s Vineyard, MA
"Excellent bourbon selection including Old RVW 10, PVW 12, 15, 20 and 23."
155. Kreso's - Bardstown, KY
"In Bardstown Ky, the bourbon capital of the world. There is a small restaurant Kreso's on 3rd Street. The Main strip of this tiny town I discovered a wonderful meal and a healthy shot of 23 yr old for $150."
156. Bub City- Chicago, IL
"has a ton of whiskey to try. I lost count."
"The Pappy 23 is $90 for 2 ounces. Still a good deal."
157. DISH - Dallas, TX
"had Pappy 10, 12, and 15. Two ounce pours for $32/$38/$56"
158. The Blackheart - Austin, TX
"has Pappy 10, 12, 20, 23, among many other rare finds. Pappy 10 was only $25 a pour"
159. Mes Que - Buffalo, NY
160. Mezza Restaurant and Lounge - Buffalo, NY
161. Bourbon and Burnz - Pawleys Island, SC
"has 10 12 20 and 23"
162. Bourbon Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, LA
"has it 12, 20, 23 year. Two ounce pours go for 'add a zero to the year.' "
163. Cítricos Restaurant, Grand Floridian Resort - Walt Disney World - Orlando, FL
164. Grange, The Citizen Hotel, Autograph Collection - Sacramento, CA
"has the 10 year for $70 and 23 for $95 (or maybe it was the 20 year for $95). I had the 10 year and man it was delicious."
165. Del Posto - New York, NY $90 a shot for 12 ye old Pappy
"$90 a shot for 12-year-old Pappy"
166. Samba Steak and Sushi - Framingham, MA
"Just in: Old Rip 10, Van Winkle 12, Family Reserve 15, 20 and 23...Pricey…. Starts at $95 for Old Rip 10"
167. Dry 85 Bourbon Bar - Annapolis, MD
168. Street Side Ale House - Atascadero, CA
"Two to three are even discounted one month of the year, but still pretty expensive per glass. I remember the 23yo being 120 per glass (never discounted)."
169. Doe’s Eat Place – Jonesboro, AR
"PVW 20, under $100. Over 100 other bourbons, blends, whiskeys, scotch, Irish, Japanese. Super impressive list."
170. The Blackheart - Austin, TX
171. The Foundry Bar in the Westin Times Square - New York, NY
"We have 25 year at the Foundry bar in the Westin Times Square. We have .5 oz, 1 oz and 1.5 oz pours. The 1.5 pour is $415."
"has the largest collection of Whiskey in the city including a full run of Pappy. Including the 25 year age statement."
"Drinking mint juleps, famed Southern Bourbon drink, though in the Deep South not really drunk much. In fact, they are drunk so seldom that when, say, on Derby Day somebody gives a julep party, people drink them like cocktails, forgetting that a good julep holds at least five ounces of Bourbon. Men fall facedown unconscious, women wander in the woods disconsolate and amnesiac, full of thoughts of Kahlil Gibran and the limberlost….
Reader,…here’s my favorite recipe, “Cud’n Walker’s Uncle Will’s Favorite Mint Julep Receipt.
You need excellent bourbon whiskey; rye or Scotch will not do. Put half an inch of sugar in the bottom of the glass and merely dampen it with water. Next, very quickly—and here is the trick in the procedure—crush your ice, actually powder it—preferably in a towel with a wooden mallet, so quickly that it remains dry, and, slipping two sprigs of fresh mint against the inside of the glass, cram the ice in right to the brim, packing it with your hand. Finally, fill the glass, which apparently has no room left for anything else, with bourbon, the older the better, and grate a bit of nutmeg on the top. The glass will frost immediately. Then settle back in your chair for half an hour of cumulative bliss.”
This week I am finishing up the 3-part series on How to Hunt Rare Bourbons based on an article in Whisky Advocate by Fred Minnick about finding rare Bourbons.
Today we will hit on Minnick's third, fourth and fifth rule of Bourbon hunting. (Go here to see rule 2.)
Do Your Diligence
Minnick says the best "bourbon hunters stalk the brand, study the pre-release bottle count, and proactively reserve a bottle before a liquor store may even know about it" and they "act on the release announcements "before the major reviews hit newsstands or blogs." They touch base with liquor stores before everybody else and reserve a bottle.
And the most successful do not lean on cold calls. Instead, they go to the same store over and over and show they are loyal customers.
Work with Your Guide
He advises "if you only want rare releases, your best bet is to enter a lottery, because non-lottery stores are rewarding loyal customers." And Minnick explains that "being a good customer isn't always enough." "Good bourbon hunters befriend the liquor store associates, ask about their kids, bond over sports and put them on their holiday card lists."
It is akin to the advice you might find in a book about being a good salesman or schmoozer -- the "flattery gets you everywhere" strategy. But this doesn't always work as we've all probably learned before. Some people can take this as insincerity or may feel like you are playing them, which can have the opposite effect. So be sincere and read the person. If they don't like this approach let it go.
One more idea, which I have seen work for some, is to visit liquor stores that are off-the-beaten path, particularly in rural areas. Minnick, a bourbon historian, notes that "while larger markets receive most of the limited edition products, statewide distributors are keen on making sure reputable smaller-market retailers also receive allocations, a tradition that dates back to 1940s, when distillers targeted oil-field workers farmers, and the military."
Bigger stores and chains will likely use formal loyalty programs to keep up with your purchases and allocate the rare bourbons accordingly. Minnick cites Total Wine & Spirits which "uses a program similar to a grocery store where loyalty is based on shopping frequency and how much you spend. For every dollar, you earn roughly ten points as a Grand Reserve Member to get a shot at rare whiskey." But he also says that some states prohibit these kinds of systems and coupons for alcohol, including bourbon's home state Kentucky.
Hunt for Sustenance -- Not Sport
Minnick notes that at the end of the day "many retailers are bourbon lovers" and "prefer to see whiskey go to people who will enjoy it, rather than flip it for a profit." Some even require rare bourbon buyers "to break the seal of rare bottles" so it cannot be sold again.
In the end, rare bourbon hunting is more about the hunt and the appreciation of rare bourbons -- than selling or profiting. Sure every once in a while, you may have to cull and add other bourbons to your collection. There's no harm in making a little dough for your time and effort, but make it the exception, not the rule.
Instead, get deeply interested in the subject, pick the brains of fellow bourbon lovers and your local liquor store associates to learn as much as you can about fine bourbon and rare releases (not to schmooze), and have a helluva a time on your bourbon journey.
Godspeed and Happy Hunting!
This week I am continuing the series on How to Hunt Rare Bourbons based on an article in Whisky Advocate by Fred Minnick about finding rare Bourbons.
Under the second rule of Bourbon hunting, Minnick advises seekers to "Select Your Target Carefully."
He explains how some Bourbon hunters are moving away from the biggest fish in the sea like Pappy and BTAC (Buffalo Trace Antique Collection) because "competition has grown too fierce." Instead, they're searching for --- and finding --- some of the hard-to-find Bourbons that aren't on every Bourbon drinkers radar --- yet.
He mentions three that he thinks fit this category:
- Michter's 10 Year Old
- High West Midwinter Night's Dram
- Angel's Envy Cask Strength
Minnick notes "these brands are still hot and you must work hard to find them, but they tend to be regional hits. For example, Angel's Envy Cask Strength requires a raffle in Louisville, but may sit in Chicago stores for a couple of days."
He also says that savvy hunters are finding some great, rare bourbons at distillery gift shops, including Willett's where you may be lucky enough to stumble across 23 year old Willett Rye.
So if you want to be part of the next generation of rare Bourbon hunters you need to think beyond the Pappys and the BTACs to the next tier of "up and comers."
As Minnick concludes "while newbies are distracted with with BTAC and Pappy, veteran hunters are cleaning house with other rare Bourbons."
In the comments section below, tell us what other hard-to-find Bourbons you would add to Minnick's list.