It's that time of year again. With fall comes the browning of the leaves, the cooling of the air (well, eventually, we hope), and the Google searches for Pappy Van Winkle. "Where can I buy Pappy?" is a question I see pop up a lot on Google searches leading to my blog this time of year. As a public service, I'm going to answer this question for all of the Googlers out there. This post isn't for my regular readers who know this stuff already, but I will ask them to help out.
So, you read an article about how Pappy Van Winkle is the best bourbon ever and you think it would make the perfect holiday gift for your spouse/significant other/boss/client. Here's the deal: Pappy Van Winkle is the most sought after bourbon in history. Bourbon fans will go to great lengths to hunt it down. Liquor stores often have hundreds of people on the wait list for two or three bottles and some poor slobs are willing to pay double, triple and, yes, nearly 10 times the retail price for the stuff.
So let's deal with the reality. If you got to this post, because you Googled "Where can I find Pappy Van Winkle?", you aren't going to find it. I'm not going to find it. All but a few tireless or very lucky souls aren't going to find it. That doesn't have to mean you're out of luck though. Pappy is great bourbon, but there are plenty of other great bourbons out there that you can find; so if you can't find Pappy (and you won't), consider the following:
- W.L. Weller 12 year old. This is essentially the same stuff as much of the Van Winkle bourbons. It's made by Buffalo Trace, the same distillery that distills all but the oldest Van Winkles, and it's made from the same recipe that they use to make the Van Winkle bourbons. Buy this and tell that boyfriend that this is essentially Pappy 12. It's a great bourbon; it won't cost you an arm and a leg ($20 to $25), and you'll be able to feel superior with this bit of insider knowledge.
- Four Roses Single Barrel Hand Picked Editions. Four Roses is probably the most consistently excellent bourbon distillery around today. These guys pump out great bourbon like it's nothing. The regular single barrel is good, but retailers hand pick single barrels of particular recipes that range from decent to mind blowingly good. Binny's currently has eight different hand picked bottles for $55 a piece, a fraction of what Pappy would cost you for juice that's just as good if not better. To put it in musical terms, Pappy may be as popular as The Knack in 1980 but Four Roses is the Velvet Underground in the early '70s, the life changing band that only those in the know are listening to (check out that rock analogy - eat your heart out David Driscoll!)
- High West Rendezvous Rye. This one's not a bourbon, but a rye, bourbon's spicy cousin. This excellent whiskey is composed of rye whiskeys from Kentucky and Indiana, masterfully blended by David Perkins from High West in Utah. At $50, it's one of the best whiskey deals around for a fabulous, spicy whiskey.
One thing I have going for me on my blog is an army (okay, a division) of talented readers who know their stuff. Readers, what would you recommend as a relatively easy to find substitute for Pappy this holiday season?