Pappy van Winkle whiskey is the white whale for nigh all whiskey connoisseurs. Like any other commodity, supply and demand determine availability (and price). And in a vicious cycle, like any luxury good, demand is exacerbated by the scarce supply. Van Winkle releases between 6 and 7 thousand cases of whiskey every year. That sounds like a great many, until you compare it to, say, Maker's 46--Maker's Mark's new product line--which releases 25,000 cases per year. Note that that is four times as many cases per year. Moreover, for whatever reason, this does not have the cult following that Van Winkle does. So between the extreme cult following that it has obtained and the absurdly low production numbers (much appreciated for its quality control), it's a mighty tough bird to flush up.
And I have obtained a bottle. It has yet to be opened.
But I am excited about it, for I have sampled this whiskey before. I have never tasted any so smooth yet full of character. It's remarkably balanced. Allegedly, its mashbill is very similar to Maker's Mark, deriving its sweetness from its high wheat content, and its heft and mellowness from its unhurried, slow stroll through 15 seasons of Kentucky's snow and sun. Once you taste it, its devotees suddenly appear sane and rational. "Of course their unrelenting fervor," you reason to yourself, "makes perfect sense."
And Thursday, I drove in the gray while after whiskey's white whale and brought it in. Look for an update once the bottle is opened.