Cocktails & Spirits

Rare Spirits: Where Can We Find Pappy Van Winkle?

The Washington City Paper wrote last week on how difficult it is to keep Pappy Van Winkle in stock. The bourbon from Old Rip Van Winkle distillery has a cult following for its 15-, 20-, or 23-year-aged booze and has been a thing for quite a while now.

"The strategy of scarcity" builds a following and drives up the price, Julian Van Winkle III told Fortune last year. The 20-year-aged Pappy costs $239 a bottle, and the 23-year-aged costs $399 a bottle.

Perhaps it's the weather -- is bourbon a winter spirit? -- or perhaps it's because bourbon fever isn't as fervent in South Florida: There seems to be less demand for Pappy Van Winkle in these parts. I had some this past weekend at The Raleigh, which carries all three on the menu. "Is that the last of it?" asked a server when he poured me the end of the 15-year-aged bottle, priced at $23 a glass. He was able to find a replacement as well as bottles of the older stuff.

Even at the recently opened and very popular Yardbird,

it's readily available. "Does your distributor have a special

relationship with the distillery?" I asked. The bartender didn't know,

but acknowledged they've had it since the restaurant opened. Locally, Tap 42 sells the 15-year aged and employee confirmed when I called this afternoon.

Outside of Florida, all versions of the bourbon are in high demand if they're available at all. From Washington City Paper:"'We

got a batch just before Christmas that sold out in a day and a half,'

said Andy Creemer, manager of MacArthur Beverages. 'The complete lack of

the stuff in the market has turned it into a bit of a frenzy.'" Other

store owners laughed when the writer asked if it's in stock.

At the Fort Lauderdale location of Total Wine, the only Pappy Van Winkle in stock is the 23-year aged, costing $299 a bottle, $100 less

than what it's going for online and elsewhere.

"We buy as much as we can get our hands on every October," said Sara Toback, Spirits buyer for Total Wine Corporate

based in Maryland. She explained that the distillery has a relationship

with a supplier from each state and that Total Wine buys the bourbon

through the supplier. She said each store sells out between six and

eight weeks.

If you've tried it, are the varieties of Pappy Van Winkle worth it? Sound off in the comments.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart