It seems like almost every week I get an email with an offer for “the bourbon that beat Pappy Van Winkle!!!” Sure, there have been plenty of spirits competitions out there where one bourbon has “beaten” another. And, sure, there are plenty of “scores” out there that place bourbons in a particular pecking order. But the truth is, the comparison is absurd, and not at all helpful in choosing which bourbon to buy. We’re blessed with plenty of great American whiskey – go to your favorite local store, pick up a bottle, and chances are you’ll be happy.
Here are five facts about Pappy Van Winkle:
1. It’s true – their bourbon is good (OK, their bourbons are often very good).
2. Their bourbon is overhyped (OK, their bourbons are ridiculously overhyped).
3. The demand for Pappy Van Winkle bourbon greatly outweighs the supply, which was set in place 15 to 23 years ago, well before the current bourbon boom began. Deal with it.
4. The combination of facts one and two and three means that Pappy Van Winkle bourbons are practically impossible to buy at retail, especially at any price in the neighborhood, or city, or county, or state, of anything within reason.
5. The mash bill of all three Pappy Van Winkle bourbons is the exact same as that of the W. L. Weller bourbons (both are distilled and bottled by Buffalo Trace – they are simply different barrels, at different ages, from different locations in the rickhouse, of the same whiskey). There is no magic Pappy fairy dust. Just mystique. And blind belief.
So, what does that mean for you, dear reader, who are probably hoping and praying to secure a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle? I’d suggest that you should give up your search, go to your local liquor store, and try something else. There are countless good whiskeys out there. If you can’t catch sight of a unicorn, do you stop looking for good views? I’m here to tell you, the view is grand whether Pappy is in your sights or not.