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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Buffalo Trace Announces 2019 Pappy Van Winkle Annual Release You'll Never Be Able to Buy

Buffalo Trace Distillery has announced the release of the 2019 Van Winkle Bourbon Collection. Van Winkle bourbons are aged longer than most bourbons and are the most sought out by bourbon connoisseurs... whether this is due to their scarcity or quality is a lingering debate.

Given the limited availability, President of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery Julian Van Winkle states:
“Unfortunately we cannot control the price retailers charge, so some retailers mark it up beyond our MSRP, even though we ask them not to. We are committed to releasing a quality product and hope retailers will honor what we suggest as a fair retail price.”
Included in this release are the following brands with the MSRPs:
  • $69.99 - Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10 Year Old 107 proof
  • $79.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12 Year Old
  • $119.99 – Old Rip Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year Old
  • $119.99 - Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15 Year Old
  • $199.99 - Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old
  • $299.99 – Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23 Year Old
Buffalo Trace is notorious for limiting supply in order to create demand. This may not be an example of this. The fact that these have a minimum of a 10 year age statement means that a lot of liquid has been lost to the angel's share so there probably isn't a ton of liquid left to bottle. This contributes to the limited supply, as well as the fact that Buffalo Trace would have had to correctly estimate demand more than a decade or more ago for these brands. 

In terms of the bottles themselves, they'll be packed three bottles per case when sold to retailers. Buffalo Trace is warning consumers about buying on Facebook, Craigslist, or other online marketplaces and says they are prepared to take legal action. Senior marketing director at Buffalo Trace Distillery, Kris Comstock states:
 “Trading and selling bourbon online is an unlicensed and illegal sale. Purchasing bourbon online from unlicensed parties is dangerous. The product may be counterfeit and unsafe. If you are not a licensed retailer and you are selling Van Winkle products, we are prepared to take action to curtail the activity”
Our Take

While it's nice that Buffalo Trace releases these every year, the simple fact remains that the average person will never be able to score one of the bottles. Even if you see these in retailers outside of Ohio (we'll talk about in Ohio shortly), the price sometimes hits multiple thousands of dollars.

For those in Ohio, the last few years, the Ohio Department of Liquor Control (OHLQ) has included their allocation in the bottle lottery that occurs in December. The interest in the bottle lottery has been exponentially increasing. For instance, last year, you had a better statistical chance of death than winning the right to purchase a bottle. I fully expect these to show up in 2019 bottle lottery, but I'm not optimistic of winning.

Source: Buffalo Trace

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