Get that second mortgage paperwork done, whiskey lovers, because a 25-year-old Van Winkle bourbon is going to be released this spring, sold in such a limited quantity that most of us have no hope of seeing it.
Why is the outlook so bad? Because fewer than 1,000 bottles are being produced of this rare liquid. Just 710 bottles will be filled, shipped, and sold by retailers. That’s a fraction of what typical Pappy Van Winkle stocks look like in the fall.
But there’s a reason the release is so small: Only 11 barrels of whiskey met the standards for this quarter-century-old whiskey. Family patriarch Julian Van Winkle called this a “once in a lifetime offering.”
The whiskey inside these bottles has had an interesting life. According to Buffalo Trace, the barrels, “were distilled in the spring and fall of 1989 and stored on the lower levels of a metal clad warehouse built in 1935 at the Van Winkle family distillery in Shively, Kentucky. In 2002 the barrels were moved to Buffalo Trace Distillery, where they continued to age for another 12 years on the lower floors in Buffalo Trace’s brick warehouses.”
That means, for the dedicated Pappy fans out there, that these barrels are original stock from the "old" distillery — a big boon for collectors. “We are excited to be able to offer something so unique and rare for our most devoted fans,” said Julian Van Winkle, president of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, in a press release.
The packaging is handmade glass from the Glencairn Crystal Studio. Each and every one is numbered, with a silver stopper. The wooden boxes are crafted with the staves from those magic 11 barrels, and they’re each signed by Van Winkle. Of course, no one is buying this stuff for the fancy packaging — in fact, most of them will be buying it to swing a profit. While many of the bottles are going to retailers, which retailers is a mystery at the moment. It’s unclear who will have a bottle to sell at this point — and let’s be clear, with an entire country to take care of, 710 bottles does not go very far. That works out to fewer than 15 per state.
We doubt a single one of these will ever hit a shelf. Pappy allocations are typically spoken for by regular customers months in advance of release, and unless you’ve been bringing your liquor store manager fresh cookies every week since you turned 21, that bottle is probably not going home with you.
The retail price is set at a modest (for Van Winkle) $1,800 for retail, but we expect that to be mostly irrelevant for stated reasons. On the secondary market Pappy 23 goes for more than $1,800 a bottle, and the supply is significantly larger. We’re speculating, but it’s not a stretch to see these going for two or three times that value within days of release.
Anyway, good luck.
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