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“Pappy” Mania Likely To Reach New Levels With 2015 Releases

Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23 Year Old Bourbon. Image courtesy Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. October 14, 2015 – Perhaps one should shed a tear this fall for the whiskey sellers of the world…those poor, downtrodden souls who will be flooded with requests for “please, can I buy just one bottle of Pappy Van Winkle?” The 2015 edition of the Van Winkle family’s Bourbons is about to be released, with the result likely to be even more people left high and dry than in previous years. Buffalo Trace, which has handled production and marketing of the Van Winkle whiskies for the family in a joint venture since 2002 , issued a news release today warning that this year’s series will be even more scarce than usual because of what the distillery described as “extra greedy” angels.

Buffalo Trace’s Kris Comstock noted that as many of the Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve casks are matured for upwards of 15 years, they are more susceptible to evaporation, with many of the 53-gallon barrels yielding less than 20 gallons of whiskey when emptied. In addition, a number of the barrels earmarked years ago for the 2015 release turned out to not meet the quality standards set by Buffalo Trace and the Van Winkle family.

“The result is less 15 year-old Pappy Van Winkle than usual, and far less 20 year-old and 23 year-old. Frankly, about half as much as last year.”

Buffalo Trace and the Van Winkles also issued their annual disclaimer noting that retailers determine their own pricing policies for the Pappy Van Winkle Bourbons. Julian Van Winkle III, Old Rip Van Winkle President and Pappy Van Winkle’s grandson, said the recommended retail prices for the 2015 editions would not be changed even though supplies are more limited than before.

“Although a lot of retailers charge more than our suggested pricing, we are not asking them to do so. We have not raised prices and do not intend to do so drastically in the future. We are committed to our quality and our pricing,” he said in the news release. Recommended retail prices for the six whiskies in the Van Winkle series range from $49.99 for the 10-year-old Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon to $249.99 for the 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon. However, actual retail prices can often be ten times as high as those recommended prices, depending on the retailer.  

Links: Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery | Buffalo Trace