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So You Wanna Find Some Pappy Van Winkle…

There are a lot of special releases coming out in September for Bourbon Heritage Month and beyond into October. This is when the Van Winkle collections are released (no, the 10 year is not called Pappy) as well as the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC for short).  You’ll also see special releases from Four Roses this year, as well as Heaven Hill and more (see below for a list of where you might be able to find them for sale online).

So how do you get your hands on these coveted bottles?  It might surprise you to learn you stand a better chance outside of Kentucky, where bourbon frenzy hasn’t yet reached epic proportions.  Call your local liquor store and ask if they have a waiting list.  These things are sometimes very political, so it helps to be a regular customer.

Van Winkle bottles
Good luck trying to find all of these bottles! (image via Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery)

There are also several stores that raffle off an entire collection.  You pay $20 or so for a raffle ticket and a month later you may win the entire BTAC collection.  Often these raffles are done with proceeds going to charity.

There are also search tools you can sign up for to help you find out when special bottles or collections are released.  Bourbonr is a website and an app that helps you keep track of your collection.  They also offer constant updates on special releases in their blog as well as a map indicating Pappy Sightings which could help you figure out this year’s distribution pattern.

Then there’s the Pappy Tracker app.  I personally have no experience with this, so I can’t say how or whether it works.

At the end of the day, though, your best bet for that Pappy Van Winkle bottle at a hopefully regular price is always going to be camping out in front of the liquor store to be the first in line, Black Friday style.  Back up and read that again: yes, people actually camp out the night before a special release in order to get these collections.  You gotta want it, people.

Editor’s Note: As a bonus, we’ve linked below to a range of online retailers by bottling you might have luck getting hold of one of these rare American whiskies from. Note though you’ll likely pay a premium – good luck!

Maggie Kimberl

One night during Derby week, I was working in the liquor store while Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge was doing a tasting. I kept trying to make my way over to talk to him, but we were super busy (did I mention it was Derby week?) and I didn't make it in time. Dejected, I went back to the break room and started eating my lunch. The next thing I knew, Rutledge came through the door, saying, "You didn't get to do my tasting!" He sat down and explained how to taste bourbon, the ten recipes of Four Roses, and how it was different than other distilleries. I had liked bourbon before that point, but Jim Rutledge made me care about it. That's the beautiful thing about the bourbon industry- the people love what they do, and their enthusiasm is infectious. Now here we are. :)

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