The ever increasingly popular bourbon Pappy Van Winkle has become almost impossible for the average consumer to come by. With celebrity chef endorsements and repeated inclusions in various publication’s ‘top ten list’ the cult of this bourbon has sky rocketed. But there may be a slight glimmer of hope for those that haven’t been able to get their hands on these whiskeys.
Pappy is usually distributed twice a year in very limited quantities. Once in the spring (March/April) and again in the fall, usually around Thanksgiving. But this year, according to their site and facebook post, Van Winkle bourbons will be distributed only in the fall in the hopes that there will be more bottles readily available at once.
Now chances are this will still be sold out the minute it hits the shelves but there is a better chance to nab a bottle, especially if retailers are holding firm to a ‘one bottle per customer’ policy.
So what is it that makes this line of whiskeys so popular? Well for starters the Van Winkle bourbons are what you would call a ‘wheater’. Which is basically a bourbon that substitutes out the rye in favor of wheat as one of the supplemental grains. This is nothing new and really not rare but it is uncommon in vast field of bourbons. The wheat then gives this bourbon a very different flavor profile which is sweeter and softer than a traditional bourbon which uses rye.
The other part is the history of this bourbon, at least for the enthusiast it is, which used to be sourced from the famed ‘Stitzel-Weller’ distillery. However Stitzel-Weller closed down and after striking a deal with Buffalo Trace most of the whiskey is now made there. John Hansell over at Whiskey Advocate has the back story pretty much summed up.
The Van Winkle line also is not something grown overnight. Their whiskeys start at 10 years old and go up all the way to the ultra-aged ’23 year old Pappy Van Winkle’. So there never will be a vast amount of this stuff to go around but the endorsements from Anthony Bourdain, David Cheng and others alike haven’t really helped in grounding the popularity.
In the end this may turn out to be a good decision but for those that were looking to get your fix this spring it’ll just have to wait.