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The distillery’s bourbons such as Pappy Van Winkle are in part coveted for their scarcity, so the brand is warning consumers to know what they’re getting into.

Mike Pomranz
October 30, 2017

New product announcements are typically celebratory proclamations of an exciting new launch or event. But when you’re behind one of the most coveted and hardest to buy bourbons on the planet – Pappy Van Winkle, a product that sells itself – it makes more sense to take a different approach. The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery has announced that its famed bourbons will once again see their annual release this coming November, but outside of a slim silver lining, most of what the brand had to say read more like a public service message.

First, the good news: According to Van Winkle, “Yields are a bit higher for the 10, 15 and 23 year old whiskies.” In theory, that means a few extra bottles of Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old, Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old will be available in the market this year. But if you’re hoping that will translate into the whiskey being easier to score, the distiller explicitly tempers those expectations. “The Van Winkle Whiskeys will be available starting in November, but please be mindful that supply is quite limited and bottles shall be hard to find in stores, bars and restaurants,” the brand states. Well crud.

And more bad news, this year’s range of bourbon releases will only include five varieties as opposed to the expected six. Along with the three listed above, the distillery is also releasing Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old, but the anticipated 13-Year-Old Van Winkle Reserve Rye is missing in action. “We have a one year gap in barrel inventory for the Van Winkle Rye,” Kris Comstock, senior marketing director, said in a statement. “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.”

Back what to what is being released, Van Winkle also provided a list of suggested retail prices for the range: $59.99, $69.99, $99.99, $169.99 and $269.99, depending on the age. Of course, as anyone who’s ever tried to secure a bottle of Pappy on the open market will tell you… good luck with that. It’s a problem the company even directly addressed. “Unfortunately we do not control the pricing retailers charge, so many retailers mark it up, even though we ask them not to,” said distillery president Julian Van Winkle. “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.”

Additionally, the brand goes on to warn consumers “to be wary of online resellers such as Craigslist and other online marketplaces, especially 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,” Comstock stated. “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.”

So there you have it: November is upon us, one of the most exciting times of year of Pappy Van Winkle fans… kind of like how the Hunger Games is exciting. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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