Some of the Van Winkle collection
Some of the Van Winkle collection

Between greedy angels and aggressive bourbon collectors, the chances of getting your hands on a bottle of Pappy this year are quite slim. According to Kris Comstock, Buffalo Trace’s bourbon marketing director, the barrels of older Van Winkle whiskeys yielded about half as much as last year. This means less 15-, 20- and 23-year-old Pappy on shelves.

“When bourbon ages over 15 years, much is lost to the angel’s share,” explains Comstock in a press release. “Many of the 53-gallon oak barrels often yield less than 20 gallons. Unfortunately this year, we experienced poor yields on the older Van Winkle whiskeys. Furthermore, we have strict quality standards here at Buffalo Trace, and several of the older Van Winkle barrels did not meet those standards. This makes a drastic difference in volume, considering we have very few barrels as it is.”

This Pappy 23-Year-Old will only set you back $250 ... if you can find it. | Courtesy of Buffalo Trace
This Pappy 23-Year-Old will set you back $250… if you can find it.

The collection being released in November includes: Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old ($49.99); Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old ($59.99); Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Whiskey 13 Year Old ($99.99); Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old ($79.99); Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old ($149.99); and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old ($249.99).

The prices above reflect what Buffalo Trace believes the bourbon should cost; however, liquor stores tend to up the price due to high demand.

“Although a lot of retailers charge more than our suggested pricing, we are not asking them to do so,” says Julian Van Winkle, president of 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.”

Insider will keep you informed on any Pappy raffles. And if you happen to come upon a few bottles, would you grab us one? These may be harder to find than the gold at Fort Knox.

Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."