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