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Here's your annual reminder to get on the waiting list at your favorite local liquor store.

Mike Pomranz
Updated October 03, 2018

For bourbon fans with a love of hard-to-find bottles and a bit of extra scratch to spare, the annual race to get a bottle of whiskey from the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery is official on… kind of.

Though the information isn’t yet public, October 1 marked the date that the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery—most famous for its Pappy Van Winkle line of bourbons (appreciated by the Pope himself!)—told wholesalers across the country how many bottles of whiskey they could expect from the brand during this year annual release. From there, individual distributors will determine how those bottles will reach the public—whether it’s through a lottery, as some states choose to do, or by passing the bottles along to preferred retailers and drinking establishment who are deemed worthy of the extremely limited-release booze.

“We know our whiskey can be difficult to find, so our advice is to ask retailers in your area if they expect to receive stock, and if so, how they plan to sell it,” the distillery advises on its website. “Many retailers use a lottery or a waiting list to sell our stock. We recommend you get on as many waiting lists and enter as many lotteries as you can.”

To put it another way, if you’re a customer desperate to get some Pappy, now is a good time to cozy up to the owner of your favorite liquor store. And if you’re the owner of a liquor store, now is a good time to cozy up to your distributor.

Not sure where to start your cozying? Though Old Rip Van Winkle does state that “because we don’t control which retailers receive our stock, we can’t track inventory at a retailer level,” the distillery does provide a list of retailers “that are likely to receive stock” on the store locator section of its website.

But even if you decide to start doing the legwork now, don’t expect to be sipping this year’s releases for at least a few more weeks. Van Winkle writes that the new stuff “often hits shelves anywhere from mid-October to early December.” Last year, official news of what would be sold and at what prices didn’t even get reported on until the last week of October. Even then, the announcement is mostly a reminder that, even if you are lucky enough to score something like an extremely-limited Pappy 23 Year Old, part of the prize is the price tag of around $269.99.

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