How I Met Pappy Van Winkle

Pappy Van Winkle 12 YearI 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.

Walker was a writer from the South and he had something deep and philosophical to say in his books. I liked him as a writer and I liked him and his characters, as drinkers 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 do appreciate a good mystic. I believe there's a God, but I'm not always 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 -- not Jack Daniel's -- 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.

Somehow, I found it last year, at a local liquor shop, which shall remain nameless. 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 there with anticipation and picked it up.

On a whim, I had put my name on a waiting list after reading Wright's article months before. I didn't really know what to expect and was pretty shocked  to get 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


Chris Brantley

Stumbled across bourbon via Walker Percy. Like to read, write and drink bourbon. Also, I enjoy living on the coast, grilling steaks, eating seafood and listening to good music. Great song on Spotify, fine bourbon in the glass, and something interesting to think about = BLISS.

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