Hunting Season: The Van Winkle Bourbons are Coming

October 26, 2017

If it’s the end of October, that means two things: the World Series has begun and Van Winkle Bourbons are on their way.

Wheated bourbon fans are in luck. This year’s Van Winkle allocations see slightly higher volumes for those releases. However, rye fans will have to wait an additional year.

“We have a one year gap in barrel inventory for the Van Winkle Rye. Our current barrels are 12 years old. So rather than compromise on quality or remove the age statement, we decided it would be best to hold off this year and bottle them next year as the 13 Year Old Rye Whiskey fans have come to expect,” said Kris Comstock, senior marketing director.

The Van Winkle collection consists of several whiskeys. Suggested retail prices are below.


Very few of these whiskeys will make it overseas. And of course, high demand creates high pricing. You will almost never see these prices. But don’t blame the makers.

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year / Photo Credit: Old Rip Van Winkle

“Unfortunately we do not control the pricing retailers charge, so many retailers mark it up, even though we ask them not to,” said Julian Van Winkle, president, Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “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 and hope retailers will honor what we suggest as retail pricing.”

Buffalo Trace discourages folks from buying these bottles on Craigslist or through private Facebook groups. “Some bottles they are selling might be counterfeit, filled with lesser whiskey, or worse, something that’s not even whiskey and potentially dangerous,” added Comstock. “At the bare minimum, it’s illegal to buy and resell whiskey if you are not a licensed retailer, and we’re not afraid to take action if we find out.”


This isn’t a map to the holy grail. In order to get your hands on Van Winkle bourbons you’ve got to be willing to put in the work. Purchasing a legitimate bottle requires you to find a solid retailer. Build a relationship with the whiskey buyer and the salespeople. Purchase spirits from them throughout the year. Attend whiskey events at their shops.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year / Photo Credit: Old Rip Van Winkle

Simply showing up now and requesting a bottle won’t get you anywhere. Some retailers have waiting lists or have a lottery when allocations arrive. Request that you be included and cross your fingers. If Pappy is truly unavailable in your neck of the woods, ask them for alternative whiskey recommendations.

Additionally, attending whiskey festivals such as the Whisky Advocate’s Whisky Fest is also a fine way to get a taste. As a bonus, you’ll also get to meet the Van Winkles themselves as Julian III and Preston are the ones pouring the drams.

Lastly, seeking out a fine drinking establishment is also solid advice. The best whiskey bars in the country receive Van Winkle allocations as well. Get out there and order yourself a glass. You deserve it!

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