2019 Pappy Van Winkle Announced – With A Warning!

It’s a strange time in the bourbon world. Fall is the highlight of bourbon with the release of many different limited editions. Pappy is the crown jewel of bourbon hunting. However, this year’s announcement took a strange turn. There are two major complaints in the bourbon world when it comes to Pappy Van Winkle.  [Bourbonr paraphrase. Read the full statement below] First, bourbon flippers. Second, retailers overcharging. Buffalo Trace addressed both in this year’s announcement. As for retailers, we can’t do anything and we’ve asked them nicely not to overcharge. As for flippers, we’re coming for you with legal action!

I have a lot of other thoughts on this. But, I’m saving them for a later post. For now, I will agree to disagree with Buffalo Trace’s tactics to combat fakes and counterfeits. Which is the goal of every Bourbon enthusiast out there.

Van Winkle Bourbon Annual Release Coming Soon

This is the favorite time of the year for bourbon fans, the annual release of the Van Winkle Bourbons.  Like previous years, yields from the barrels are low due to evaporation during the long aging cycle.

Known for their smoother and sweeter flavor due to the wheat recipe versus the traditional rye recipe found in most bourbons, Van Winkle bourbons are aged years longer than most others and have garnered an impeccable reputation among connoisseurs.  Although bourbon has become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years, very little Van Winkle is sold overseas, so that these coveted bottles are available in the United States.

The Van Winkle collection consists of several whiskeys. Suggested retail prices are as follows:

  • $69.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old 107 proof
  • $79.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12-Year-Old
  • $119.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13-Year-Old
  • $119.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old
  • $199.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
  • $299.90 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old

“Unfortunately we cannot control the price retailers charge, so some retailers mark it up beyond our MSRP, even though we ask them not to,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “We are committed to releasing a quality product and hope retailers will honor what we suggest as a fair retail price.”

Upon the release of the Van Winkle bourbon this fall, Buffalo Trace warns consumers to be wary of online resellers such as Craigslist and other online marketplaces, especially private Facebook and MeWe groups. “Trading and selling bourbon online is an unlicensed and illegal sale.  Purchasing bourbon online from unlicensed parties is dangerous.  The product may be counterfeit and unsafe.  If you are not a licensed retailer and you are selling Van Winkle products, we are prepared to take action to curtail the activity,” adds Kris Comstock, senior marketing director at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The Van Winkle line of whiskeys has won a multitude of awards through the years, including the 20-year-old receiving a double gold medal, best bourbon, best small-batch bourbon at the 2018 New York International Spirits Competition; the 15-year-old being named Best Bourbon, 11-15 Years Old in the 2019 Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, and also nabbing a Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The Van Winkle Whiskeys will be available starting in November, but please be mindful that supply is quite limited and bottles shall be hard to find in stores, bars, and restaurants. They will be packed three bottles per case.

91 comments

    I think of Pappy as more of a shadow myth. There will never be a time in which the average person will be able to purchase a bottle by walking into a liquor store. It would be the same as chasing your own shadow and of course…you will never catch that either.

    Sorry. Not believing this completely. Yes, it’s tough to spot in the wild but I have bought Pappy and BTAC bottles at retail thru my local store in way-out-nowhere Wyoming for several years in a row, and have seen offers for bottles – significantly marked up – at other licensed retailers. The advice from Bourbonr did improve my odds, too. Good luck.

    John,
    I agree. BT wins here. They force the retailer to buy 40 cases of Fireball for a bottle of Pappy. They unload bad whiskey mixed with antifreeze. Look it up. I feel bad for the retailers as they need to offset their costs by jacking the price up.

    I have a few bottles of Pappy and Rip in my wife’s bourbon collection. It tokk several years and paying 4 to 5 times the suggested retail to get them. If Buffalo Trace was really serious about retailers price gouging then they would punish them by not giving them any of the limited stuff in the future. The whole reason I stopped buying Sazerac “Buffalo Trace” products, as they aren’t going to get one cent of my hard earned mo ey!! I live in West KY, and about 90% of the liquor stores within a one hour drive of my home is owned by Indians. They don’t care about customer loyalty, satisfaction, etc.. Their only care is to make the absolute most amount of money they can.

    Sazerac, the owner of Buffalo Trace can control retailer gouging by simply taking away their (the guilty retailers) allocation. I am a retailer and I get a couple of bottles each year, usually only the 10 & 12 year. I sell them at a fair and reasonable mark-up. Yet retailers who sell the whiskey for $100’s more then I do seem to get a large supply of all ages. So, I think its bull they say they can’t control the retail price.

    These guys are really starting to piss me off. You want to be concerned about counterfeits, fine, but how is a retailer selling at or above secondary prices any different than someone selling in the secondary . I really think these guys are hypocrites. They control who wholesales their product and then claim no responsibility after that which is just bs. If they paid better attention to who wholesales their product, less and less would fall into the hands of retailers who hike prices up or do not offer it to the public at all. Sorry, but I am sick of Julian Van Winkle absolving himself from any responsibility when they could do a lot more. It is disingenuous at best and insulting to the bourbon loving public. They relish the fact that their now very average bourbon has cult like status. I have been drinking it for 25 years and the product is not even close to what it used to be. Maybe they should worry about that a little more!

    I agree. Ive never had Pappy but want to try just to know what Im missing. Ive seen it sold be the glass for $150! No way Im paying for that. Whats your favorite bourbon? Ive heard that Weller is very similar to Pappy. I have a couple bottles of Weller but its getting harder to find.

    10 and 12 year Pappy is very ordinary. Same as Weller 12, but it is just the first picked barrels so tends to be slightly better. I am a big Michters fan as I think they do an excellent job. Their 10 year product is much better than Pappy 10 and 12 and this years 10 year rye is great. Hell, I prefer their toasted barrels over the 10 and 12 year Pappy. I still have a few bottles of Jefferson Presidential 21 which I would take over Pappy any day of the week, but that is much harder to find now. My friends and I use to drink Pappy 15 and 20 by the case when no one was buying it. We also loved Black Maple Hill back in the day and I wish I had more bottles left of that. I am drinking a Jack Daniels Single Barrel, Barrel Proof right now that is surprisingly great at 137 proof. The lower end EH Taylors are good every day drinkers also as is the US1 Michters line and Elijah Craig. Everyones tastes are different so you just need to try different bottles and see what you like. I used to go to bars with great selections just to try something before I bought or opened it. Always a good idea as nothing sucks more than paying secondary for something you do not like. Little long winded, but I would never pay secondary for Pappy, but I do for bottles I know I like and can not get and that is what the secondary is all about. It got started so people like me could get the older bottles that are no longer available and then morphed into pure flipping. While I am not a fan of flipping, we live in a somewhat free country and we should be able to spend our money how we see fit! The van Winkles wax on but they do not really care about the consumer.

    Most of what this distillery produces is overrated, and average at best. Pappy is no different. Glad someone else finally said it’s just average.

    Jason, please feel free to pass on that very average VanWinkle to me. I’d hate to see you suffer a less than outstanding bourbon. Glad to take the hit for the team. Carry on!

    Thanks for the offer Teresa. I usually get a bottle or two from my local shop at retail every year and I open them up and share it with local customers and my employees (and for the record most of them prefer the other good stuff I share with them!)

    “starting to piss you off”? LOL!! This whole Pappy thing is beyond ridiculous. Suggested retail for 20yo is a mere $199 LOL. Retailers mark this up 7.5x and charge $1,500. And considering what their discount percentage is, they’re more like marking it up 10x their cost. I too drank Pappy many years ago, back when I could buy a bottle for $60. Not to mention buying MANY bottles of George T Stagg, Sazerac 18, and the like for $40. And those too are now retailing for $600 – $800 if you’re lucky to even find one at that price. I met Julian at a Whisky Fest in NYC about 16 or 17 years ago. Back when you can still buy a bottle for $60. And even back then he had a major arrogance about him that no other whisky producer at the event had. So in summary, thanks but no thanks. I’ll stick with Balvenie as my whisky of choice. Cheers !!

    Ive never had Pappy before and want to try! Id love to see if we can work out a legal deal so I can purchase some from you.

    As for them asking for us (I’m a retailer in IL) to not mark up beyond MSRP. What Julian fails to mention is in IL “Pappy Points” are held over our heads all year long this is both for on & off premise accounts. The more money we spend with Sazerac (parent company) the more “Pappy Points” you get. In years past they’ve also forced multiple sizes for all brands i.e. for Fireball to max your “Pappy Points” you’d need to purchase 50ml’s, 100ml’s, 200ml’s, 375ml’s 750ml’s, 1L’s, & 1.75L’s. Granted Fireball is an easy sell but Sazerac’s portfolio is vast there are many dogs that don’t move. So, while Julian Van Winkle may not be charging retailers crazy high prices his company benefits greatly via forced sales of products that frankly just collect dust on the shelf. My store is large and my Pappy allocation is normally pretty solid…I’ve never felt any guilt about charging much more than MSRP, in my mind it’s justified by the tens of thousands of dollars I spend supporting their other products.

    Amen brother we own a store in western ky and we have people follow the trucks this time of year. LOL
    we have to buy a bunch of other crap liquor to get pappy. I love weller 12 myself better. but its hard to get also. buffalo hold there ;iquor and allots it because they know they can get rid of it. its the store owner who has to invest in other liquor to get what sells. and the customer doesn’t think about how much money you have invested. so I say you are correct.

    Exactly and this is part of the problem that the distillery completely washes their hands from even though it is the wholesalers that they hire that are a serious part of the problem. This goes on nationwide. If Mr. Van Winkle is serious about being part of the solution they need to start cracking down on their wholesalers! Nothing worse than someone complaining about a problem that they can actually help solve.

    here’s one thing I can’t quite figure… others please school me on this….
    Back in 2004, PVW was gettin’ pretty scarce and the “secondary” market was starting to emerge. The handwriting was clearly on the wall. So why wouldn’t the good folks @ Buffalo Trace have taken note of what was going on *then* and significantly have cranked up PVW production, which now – in 2019 – would have resulted in an ample stock of PVW 15 yr.?

    I beg Buffalo Trace to comment on their own employees stealing the pappy foil tops and selling fakes on craigslist. What other steps is Buffalo Trace taking with respect to anti-counterfeit packaging. Anything? Bueller?

    There are far more available selections at a much more reasonable price point for the ‘average’ consumer then Van Winkle. It is a ‘treat’ to find a bottle on hand somewhere but that ‘treat’ quickly becomes a ‘trick’ when you see the per pour price or the resale price of a bottle and CHOKE…unless you have large amounts of disposable funds its just not worth it. It actually takes the fun out of it and makes you pursue other offerings. I would rather find a reasonably priced bottle and enjoy it then ‘fret’ over the hunt and maybe find an elusive bottle at a ridiculous price. There will always be a demand and the few that are able to acquire a bottle should enjoy theirs… I’m just not going to spend my precious time and funds chasing a propped up overpriced product when there are sooo many other wonderful choices available.

    It’s the secondary and shortage of production that’s given the average at best bourbon its legendary status in the bourbon world. How many $100 or less bourbons smoke them in blind taste tests?! You can blend W12 and Antique to give you the tasting notes of the now $119.99 15yr for half the cost.
    If fighting the counterfeit bottles is the real goal, all they need to do is INVEST in better bottling techniques that the secondary average Joe can’t get or afford to duplicate for such little profit in that market.
    They’d rather “invest” in chasing down the bourbon lovers who don’t have access to bottles through stores or bars in order to “crack-down” on the market.
    Fix the internal problem of what walks out the backdoor and who you distribute through and maybe you won’t see the issues you have with fakes and over-priced bottles everywhere! I walk into more stores that have “museum” bottles than I’ve ever seen in the past 10 years!

    How about this, Go fuck yourself Pappy. I can get 10 bourbons that are available and $50 and very close to your product. Eat Shit.

    I’ve tried their expressions and frankly, it’s all over-hyped. Stuff isn’t that great after all. I was pissed about what I paid to try it. Thankfully they were 1oz-ers at bars and not full bottles! The whole hype around PVW is a joke and I just don’t involve myself with it anymore.

    Look, most people understand these bourbons go to very select customers and retailers. The average Joe doesn’t stand a chance. It boresome and bothersome to read the constant marketing pitches about Van Winkle as if anyone can get one of these. It’s essentially fraud in the inducement. And, it’s backfiring on them. I for one have totally turned off. Many others will follow. So just stop the crap and be honest about it.

    A whiskey this rare is irrelevant to the regular bourbon drinker at large. If bourbon drinkers cannot drink it or even try it, Pappy Van Winkle loses its place to influence palates and thus markets. It cannot be readily referenced as a standard by which other bourbons are measured. Unobtainium is for bragging rights.

    Sazerac not putting a security seal on these bottles is insane and non of their excuses make any sense. This is singlehandedly the only way to prevent fakes.

    My on problem with the distillers is the little effort and what appears to be a disregard for the true brand loyal customer. That loyal customer will stay, as long as you let them know they matter. There is at least two ways or Ideas I could name that would be so easy to implement, sales would increase, customer loyalty would be even stickier and you would cut bottle flippers by 70 percent and counterfeit bottles would be eliminated by 95-98 percent. I would be almost impossible to counterfeit.

    So the Company’s need to take care of loyalty which will translate to a better bottom line

    While all this may be well and good I have been trying to get a bottle of 15 year locally here for decades and never have been able to get one. I’ll probably go to the great beyond without ever tasting the stuff. A sad thing for me.

    I have a 2016 Pappy 23 year old bottle & waited till some time in 2018 to try it. I did get lucky i thought at the time & won the right too buy it at regular cost. I really do like wheat bourbon, & even not counting the $300. I paid just base ing it on taste, I have 10 maybe 15 other bourbons out of my 280 or 290 bottles in my cabinet that i like better.

    My only shot is the annual Ohio lottery for Pappy and Old Rip. Last year I think we had 30,000 plus folks who entered. When you are only giving out maybe 300 bottles , do the math….virtually no realistic chance. Its genius when you look at what Van Winkle family has done, they have created unobtanium.

    Overhyped? Yeah, I paid up for a shot of 15 in a Bardstown bar. It was good, sure, but worth all the accolades and fawning praise from bourbon reviewers? Perhaps not. My advice is find other stuff that you can actually get. There are numerous little guys making the juice out there who have lower production than Van Winkle, making their bottles actually rarer. The difference is that no one is making a run on them. Seek em out , enjoy em and don’t tell anybody. Half the reason Pappy and Rip are so big is due to the endless stream of articles written praising them. Thats the trouble, bloggers and reviewers who won’t stop blabbing their mouths about how great BTAC and ORVW and PVW are the ultimate, the best etc. They darn near ruined Mckenna 10 as well. Thanks Whiskey writers, we really appreciate not being able to get these whiskies, we wholeheartedly thank you.

    More than a few years ago, I was fortunate to be able to buy many bottles of Pappy and still have a few but today there are many other bottles of good bourbon that are a tenth the price. I wouldn’t pass on a bottle at retail but I’m no longer interested in chasing something that is overpriced and not any better than many other good brands out there. When my local store marked a 20 year Pappy for $1200.00 I have never graced that store with my presence.

    I once challenged a local bartender about why his pappy shots were so expensive and he said “It’s simple. You need to make your money on the first drink…because after they try it, nobody ever buys a second.” That stuck with me and I have to agree that the myth is better than the reality. The old sourced SW was an experience to drink. The modern version is good, but not “buy it again” good. If the Van Winkles really wanted more people to have the chance to buy it, they would sell it in 375ml instead of 750s. And if they wanted to fight fakes, they would put at least some effort into one of the dozens of bottle labelling strategies or rfid approaches that are proven to deter counterfeits. But they don’t. Instead they put their focus on this insanely self-centered and egotistical fight to shut down markets as if they only exist to serve pappy. In reality, the real enthusiasts have already tried van winkle, realized it’s average, and moved on to truly rare whiskies from the past or readily available private label offerings from the present. In the end, this is just another effort to keep the myth of van winkle alive and in the press. And it’s pretty horrible that the chip they played to do that invilved removing the primary source of bottle acquisitions for bourbon’s most passionate enthusiasts.

    I am a 53 yr bourbon drinker. I had a few bottles of Pappy and Rip before it became crazy popular. Now for most of us diejard enthusiasts it has become almost impossible to obtain at a realistic price. Second markets, backdoor retailer’s and flippers have overtaken the market for all quality bourbons. To bad it has come down to this. As with most things unscrupulous people trying to turn a quick profit are destroying the honest marketplace.

    I was in New Orleans last week. $1000 for a bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle. The hotel we stayed at had Pappy, just add a 0 to the year and that is what a 2oz pour cost. To rich for me.

    This entire comment thread illustrated the futility of the whole thing. All these folks clamoring to buy the old guys whiskey illegally. Price no object. You can smell the desperation in these comments. Oh, pick me, pick me, pick me…pathetic really. The seller here wishes to do it LEGALLY! Did no one read that? His options are sell it to a licensed retailer in Kentucky, period. That’s it. Anything else including shipping to another state to a private buyer is illegal, PERIOD. Oh, I’m above the law, it’s my husbands anniversary, I’m a collector, I have impeccable taste, im only selling the bottle itself as a collectors item, I’m an attorney, I don’t feel it’s a fair law, blah blah blah, I’ve seen it all. Yet look at the people fight for it. Van Winkle has created this giant illusion that they have the best, the greatest and you are missing out if you don’t get a bottle. No thanks…

    So I see a lot of folks on here bitchin but here the question? if you had a bottle of any year of pappy and u paid retail for it. the guy behind u says hey that was the last bottle i’ll give you $1,500 for that bottle.u at the very most paid 200.00 retail what percent would sell it to the guy? or a retailer has a bottle and one guy says i’ll give you 200.00 for it the other guy says I will give you 1000.00 who wins? that’s how the market is money,money,money! it works with anything cars.trucks boats etc. your gonna sell to the guy where you can make the most money. Simple! same thing retailers and flippers are doing. you never gonna stop alcohol,drugs,tobacco.

    I got a 15 yesterday at retail cost. Would I flip it for profit? Hell No! But what’s wrong with collectors trading amongst themselves? I’ve never sought it out not once. Not even really interested in it. Why then would it be bad to trade it for rare bottles I may want from a collector?

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