Pappy Van Winkle- The Only 3 Strategies I Know for Finding It

Pappy Van Winkle 20 Yr - November 2012
Pappy Van Winkle 20 Yr - November 2012

It's July and that means it's time to start thinking about the Holy Grail of Bourbons --- Pappy Van Winkle.

In about 3 months -- when college football hits its stride, the stock market preps for a meltdown, and all the weird folks (you know the ones who proclaim Halloween their favorite holiday) start spending hours setting up their yards to scare little kids -- PVW will start to hit the shelves.

Well, to be honest,  it never really makes it the shelves. But figuratively speaking, Pappy Van Winkle arrives and disappears quicker than you can say cheers or salute or whatever it is you say when you have some of the best tasting stuff in your hands and throw it back with a smile on your face and a sense of deep satisfaction in your gut, knowing you just laid hold of one of the rarest and hardest to find bourbons on the planet.

Yes, there is tons of hype about this stuff and it is beyond way overpriced in the secondary market. Still, if you get it for less than five times retail --- (it goes for 10 or more in some places) --- I swear, you'll think you got a bargain.

But I digress. I am here now to tell you the 3 (there are probably more) strategies that I know of for scoring, laying your hands on, i.e. finding Pappy Van Winkle.

Here they are:

1. Get Lucky as Hell

Okay were you that kid that just woke up and everything went right? You know the one with a "silver spoon" jammed in his mouth. I've never experienced this, but I swear I've heard stories about it. Stuff like, my wife was pregnant and I went out to buy her a jar of peanut butter and some pickles and I saw this little liquor store and thought WTF why don't I see if they have Pappy. Of course this is like the 500th time I've done it,  BUT this time, lo and behold, the store has a bottle of dusty PVW sitting right there on the shelf and the guy sells it to me at straight retail.

Hours later, my kid is born, my wife is hungry --- and mad as hell --- and I'm sitting here in my car with a giddy smirk on my face wondering when I should drink this stuff.

2. Schmooze (i.e. be your liquor store owners best friend, talk to him about bourbon all the time and --- buy his most expensive, top-shelf bourbon until he practically gives you a bottle of PVW.)

Hell you've earned it.

You spent hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars and you have proved to him that you love and know a lot of shit about bourbons, especially good ones, rare ones, and expensive ones.

Of course, this is not a fail-safe method and in the end you can end up spending a lot of money and getting nada. But, on the bright side, you'll likely have found many other bourbons that are great -- and almost (or as good as) the unfindable Pappy Van Winkle.

If you have money to burn this is the strategy to employ. If you have money to burn, and then some, it is best to do it at multiple stores in your locale. You are just about guaranteed to score some Pappy.

3. Play the Lottery

Due to the popularity of PVW, many liquor stores have defaulted to a lottery and the best ones (I love you guys) do a "straight up" lottery, meaning they throw your name in a hat, or a box, and pick it and sell you this golden elixir at suggested retail.

Others (the assholes or buck makers --- I say this affectionately) give you the "opportunity" to buy it at a multiple over retail --- and as long as it is not too harsh, you probably still got a damn good deal.

Here's How You Play --- and Now Is a Damn Good Time to Get Started

  • Call or visit every store in your locale or extended locale and ask how they parcel out PVW.
  • If they have a waiting list put your name on it. (Some will make you come in to do so, but who can blame them). You should buy a bottle or six of something just for the sake of good karma.
  • Wait and --- if you're damn lucky or you've been really good or whatever else you believe moves the universe --- you will get a call and an opportunity to buy the Big Kahuna of Bourbons.

A Bonus Strategy That's Not Near As Fun or Satisfying

If all else fails, pay a shitload of money on the secondary market.

But, I swear, it will not taste as good as when you score it the good, old-fashioned, hard way --- by grit, determination, and a whole lot of hustle.

Enjoy the Chase!

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.