Pappy Van Winkle has reportedly been released to the public in Virginia, at least according to the Pappy Release Map by bourbonr.com. (If you live in VA let us know if this is fact or fiction.)
The Map came out today and it is one of the better, more reliable resources I've found for tracking when and where Pappy is likely to show up.
Here's a link if you want to check it out. You may have to sign up to access it, but it is worth it if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of the Pappy Van Winkle release.
If you haven't already established a very solid relationship (by buying tons of good, expensive bourbon) with your liquor store of choice, here are the options your left with.
Stand in Line
This means locating a store that does not dole it out via the "my best customers" approach, but instead, offers it on a "first-come, first-served" basis. This also means you are going to stand in line (maybe even camp out) for a long, long, long time. Usually these are big chain stores that want to make everybody happy by not playing favorites. (If you go this route, bring a tasty bottle of some other bourbon to enjoy, as you smirk at this phenomenon that shows how crazy us human beings really are.)
Roll the Dice
Play the lottery. Get lucky as hell. This strategy is all about what you think moves the universe or what actually does or doesn't. But that is a deep, philosophical question for another day. Here you simply throw your name in a hat and hope like hell you have good karma or dumb luck. Most will make you come into the store to enter, but some (the big boys) may offer an online lottery. (I'll make you aware of all the ones I know of as I discover them.)
Visit "Mom and Pop" Liquor Stores
The older these stores are, the better --- and if it's in Kentucky, even better. Maybe, just maybe, you will be that lucky son/daughter of a gun, who wandered in on a whim and will have a story to tell for the rest of his/her life.
Just Say No and Go to a Bar
Yes, you will have to put down a lot of cash for...not a lot of Pappy, but at least you'll have tasted this golden elixir that has every one raving. Yes, it is irrational, like thinking any business with a dot com at the end of its name would make billions (if you weren't around in the 2000s you may not get that). And if you think about it --- paying $50, $70 or even $100 an ounce at a bar is not too much worse than paying $800 (15yr), $1000 (20yr), $1200 (23yr) for a bottle on the secondary market. (750ml/50ml = 15 x 100 = 1500). Here's a list of bars that normally carry Pappy, but always check as some will run out this time of year, but should be getting a fresh infusion soon. (I've also mapped them. Check that out here.)
Anyway, good luck and stay tuned. I'll offer you as much intelligence as I run across so you can find the unfindable, but...if you don't, there's still a lot of TASTY bourbon out there that you can find. So give it your best shot, but if you come up short...no worries. Go buy 2 or 10 of your favorites.
Let me know if you hear of any Pappy showing up in your area and I'll pass it along.