The Washington Post / Getty Images

The right to purchase 1,804 bottles of Old Rip Van Winkle whiskeys in Pennsylvania will be distributed via a lottery system.

Mike Pomranz
November 14, 2017

Bourbon fans know that scoring a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon – or any of the whiskeys from the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, for that matter – on retail store shelves can be nearly impossible. Meanwhile, trying a taste through other means can be ridiculously pricey. The brand behind the coveted spirits readily acknowledges these facts. “Please be mindful that supply is quite limited and bottles shall be hard to find in stores, bars and restaurants,” the distillery wrote in this year’s release announcement. However, if you live in Pennsylvania, and have a little luck on your side, getting your hands on a bottle of Pappy can be difficult, but relatively pain-free: Once again, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will be holding a special Pappy Van Winkle Limited-Release Lottery.

According to the Board, this year, the state’s stash includes 1,804 bottles of the five different Old Rip Van Winkle varieties that have been released for 2017. Of that collection, 134 bottles are being bundled into 40 multi-bottle packages, with the remaining 1,670 bottles being sold individually. As a result, the rights to buy these bourbons will be determined via a drawing that will see 1,710 winners in all – though the lottery includes some important provisions. First, half of the bundles and about a quarter of the individual bottles are being earmarked for licensees (meaning bars, restaurants and retailers). That immediately cuts the number of individual customers with a chance to get picked in the lottery down to just 1,275. But on the positive side, the PLCB promises that winners are limited to only one per household, and all entries will be “vetted for duplicative names, addresses, and other information,” as well as verifiable Pennsylvania addresses, to make sure the lottery pool is as fair as possible.

However, keep in mind that, once selected, customers are only given the “opportunity” to buy these bottles.  “Winners” still have to fork out the cash – and PLCB prices are coming in a bit higher than the distillery’s suggest prices. For instance, Pennsylvania is charging $79.99 for the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year, which the distiller listed at $59.99. Meanwhile, at the top of the range, the distillery suggested that Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 23 Year could go for $269.99, whereas the PLCB is asking for $399.99.

And then, of course, there’s the dilemma if you happen to be one of the two big “winners” who lands the rights to buy the entire five-bottle range in a custom-made wooden box. That package will cost you $1,899.99. Yup, this is one of the few lotteries where if you win, you have to sell your car instead of buying a new one.

Still, if you have a Pennsylvania address, you might as well take a stab at it. Registration is open from now until 11:00pm on Saturday, November 18 at FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com. Drawings will be held on the weed of November 20.

You May Like