Bourbon Dispatches No. 13 – 3 More Rules for Hunting Bourbon

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.

To subscribe and read the article in its entirety go here.

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!

Bourbon Dispatches No. 12 – Targeting the Next Generation of Rare Bourbons

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.

To subscribe and read the article in its entirety go here.

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.

Happy Hunting!

Pappy Van Winkle 25 Year – Fuhgeddaboudit – Bourbon Dispatches No. 10

The word is out. Pappy Van Winkle 25 Year is coming soon,'s the bad news -- just 710 bottles of the once-in-a-lifetime bottle of liquid sunshine will be sent to retailers. So as Vito Corleone would say: fuhgeddaboudit!

But at least you'll save a cool $1800 by forgoing the buy. And for secondary buyers...who the hell knows what you'd pay? I'm guessing -- if any shows up -- it will cost no less than 10 times retail, likely more.

So why only 710 bottles? According to Julian Van Winkle III only 11 barrels tasted heavenly enough to make the cut. So you can bet the Angels and the Devils both took their share, and unless you have a direct line to either you probably won't --- EVER!

How to Make Pappy 25

As the Buffalo Trace press release explains: the barrels "were distilled in the spring and fall of 1989 and stored on the lower levels of a metal clad warehouse built in 1935 at the Van Winkle family distillery in Shively, Ky. In 2002 the barrels were moved to Buffalo Trace Distillery, where they continued to age for another 12 years on the lower floors in Buffalo Trace’s brick warehouses. The lower floor placement helped preserve the sweet, mellow notes of the world-famous wheated bourbon recipe."

So if they went in the barrels in 1989 why aren't they 27 or 28 years old. Well, in 2014 Buffalo Trace transferred the barrels into stainless steel tanks. Why? This stops the aging process and retains the mouth-satisfying flavor profile that has made Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, the best on the planet.

Bottom line, this is the original stock that so many Pappy Collectors yearn for.

Packaging Schmackaging

The Pappy 25 will be packaged in handmade glass from the Glencairn Crystal Studio and the wooden boxes will be crafted with the staves from the lucky 11 barrels. And JVW III will place his name on the bottle.

But packaging don't mean shit. If you've ever had Pappy, you know what everybody really wants -- the 100-proof golden brown elixir inside the fancy schmancy bottle and box.

So there are sure to be some Pappy flippers who try to make a quick buck or 10,0000.

Who Will Get It?

Nobody really knows, but it will go out in April. I suspect some of the stores will do auctions and/or lotteries. So, as with the regular release, we will do our best to get you the lowdown as soon as we can and make you aware of any opportunities to find it. We will post these in the club section of the site. So if you're not already a member now is a good time to join. Here's how.

Anyway, I hope at least one of you reading this will find the unicorn of all Bourbon unicorns! If you do, please don't sell it -- even for a lot.

Not much left in this world that is truly once in a lifetime.


Bourbon, Football and Trump – Bourbon Dispatches – Issue 7

My beloved (and consistently loserish) Atlanta Falcons made it to the Super Bowl this week so I thought I would talk a little Football and Bourbon, with a smattering of the new President thrown in.

All three "hot" subjects were recently covered in in this article on former Ravens standout Ray Lewis. Yes, everyone is getting in the Bourbon game.


Now I could say something snarky, (like what the hell is Trump going to do with a bottle of bourbon? He doesn't drink right?) but I won't and here's why:

It won't be a profit-driven enterprise. Instead, only 100 bottles will be produced for charity.

The proceeds from their sale will go to the Time to Shine Scholarship & Internship Program for Women, which helps high-school aged women pursue educational and professional opportunities.

Ok. That is kinda cool. Bourbon "helps high-school aged women pursue educational and professional opportunities."

Sounds great to me. And "Lewis intends to give the first two bottles away as gifts to incoming president Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence."


“I have been thoroughly impressed with president-elect Trump and his desire to help inner city kids and provide better education opportunities for women,” Lewis said.

The bourbon will go on sale starting February 15.

Now whether or not you like/agree with Trump or Lewis --- what the Hell let's give them a chance and see what happens.

If they F*** it up there's always Bourbon.

Bourbon Dispatches, Issue 2 – Pappy Van Winkle Hunting Season

Hunting Season, Autumn Leaves on a Weathered Wood Background with text Hunting Season

It's November. Three of the four BCS teams just got knocked off (and my beloved struggling BullDawgs just beat 9th ranked Auburn). What? And most importantly, Pappy Van Winkle hunting season is in full force. So let's look at where we are so far.

Here's the latest map from


What Really Matters

So here's where we stand:

Pappy Van Winkle is in North Carolina (10/20); Wisconsin (10/21); Kentucky and Rhode Island (11/1); Tennessee (11/3); Maryland (11/4); Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, West Virginia and South Carolina (11/9); Georgia (11/11); Tennessee and Alabama (11/14).

Now in some states it has just released in certain parts so don't sweat it if it's not in your locale at the moment.

As always, if you want to stay up to date on locations, lotteries, etc. like us on FB or Follow us on Twitter. That is the fastest way to keep you updated on the where, when and how of the 2016 Pappy Van Winkle Release.

Other News

Coolest Bourbon Product of the Week:

A craftsman who makes lamps out of Bourbon bottles just reached out and asked if I knew of anyone who had empty Pappy bottles. If you have one and want to sell and/or give it away, let me know. Much better to put them in the hands of lamp makers than counterfeit Bourbon sellers.

We've Set a Date for the Next Auction

So our Bourbon Collector is back and we will be putting Parker's Promise of Hope and Four Roses Super Premium Japan on the block Thursday, November 17, 8PM to 11PM EST. (See descriptions of each below). We will offer them together for a reserve of $699!

Parker's Heritage Collection Promise of Hope #7


Four Roses Super Premium (Very Rare from Japan) (2012)

Four Roses Super Premium Platinum Bourbon Review

Please join the fun? Go here to learn more.

And if you have found some Pappy, please let me know Here's a pretty cool story from one of our subscribers.

Thanks for emailing, I would join, but I started my hunt two months ago. And in that two months I was at a raffle, six bottles of PAPPY VAN WINKLE walked rite past me. 10 and 15 year three each. I ended up walking out with the 20 year. That's rite, 30 days on the hunt, holy grail in safe. Just two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a bottle of George T Stagg. What are the odds with in two months. - Mike

Well damn Mike! Beginner's luck I guess.

Enjoy the Chase,