Pappy van Winkle FAQs

Pappy van Winkle  FAQs

Whisky Loot is giving you the chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try all three Pappy van Winkle whiskies in one go.  

Pappy van Winkle Family Reserve is some of the rarest and most sought after whiskey in the world. At Whisky Loot, we want real whiskey drinkers to get the chance to taste this remarkable spirit, so rather than selling them in full bottles, at full cost, we’ve made the bold call to open these bottles up and put them in our signature tasting bottles. The pack contains 60ml premium tasters of Pappy van Winkle Family Reserve 15 Year Old, 20 Year Old and 23 Year Old – with a combined RRP in excess of $6,000. 

We’ve also tried to make things as fair as possible, so rather than just putting these on our website, we’re running a ballot to win the chance to buy one of these packs. If you enter our ballot, you’ll get the opportunity to buy this pack at a fraction of the cost of full bottles. 

Your Pappy van Winkle experience is up to fate, but there are a few things you can do to tip the odds in your favour…

How to increase my chance of winning in the Whisky Loot Pappy van Winkle Ballot?

  1. 1. Refer a friend with your unique link. Each friend who signs up to the ballot through your link will grant you an extra entry! You’ll receive your referral link in the email you get after signing up to the ballot. 
  2. 2. Be a Whisky Loot subscriber. Active Whisky Loot members double their entries to the Ballot, including any referral entries. You can subscribe to Whisky Loot here
  3. 3. We’re giving one lucky customer a “Golden Ticket” box of Pappy - completely free. Think of us as the Willy Wonkas of Whiskey! Make a purchase of more than $150 in the month of May to be in with a chance of winning FREE PAPPY! Golden Ticket T&Cs here.  
  4. 4. And finally… Enter the ballot! It might seem obvious, but as a wise man once said, you can’t win the prize if you don’t have a ticket. Entering the Pappy van Winkle Ballot is the simplest way to increase your chances of winning. The draw will close on the 5th June, and will be made on the 7th June. Full ballot T&Cs here.

How much does Pappy van Winkle cost?

In Australia, the RRPs for full bottles of Pappy van Winkle Family Reserve are very high. The 15 year old has a recommended price of $1,250, whilst the 20 year old and 23 year old are priced at $2,199 and a whopping $3,450 respectively. And here’s the thing: this is just the beginning. Most Pappy van Winkle bottlings are marked up significantly, or sold on the secondary auction market for even more eye-watering sums.

It all boils down to the fact that the average whiskey drinker will never be able taste these drams without selling a car, a house or perhaps a kidney. That is, until now. For the lucky winners of our Pappy ballot, they’ll be given the chance to try all three Pappy van Winkle Family Reserve whiskies for $689 – less than the cost of one bottle of the cheapest Pappy (that’s if you’re even able to find it at RRP)! 

How rare is Pappy van Winkle?

We can’t give out exact details, but we can tell you that in Australia, no more than a couple of cases are imported. Even in America, the homeland of Pappy van Winkle, avid fans of the whiskey will go “hunting” – travelling from state to state in search of a liquor shop that might still have some bottles of Pappy left! 

Why is Pappy van Winkle so rare?

It’s not usual to find whiskies from Scotland and Ireland that are aged for 15 or 20 years, so you might be asking yourself, why is Pappy so rare? Well – it's down to a few things, but mostly something we call the ‘Angel’s Share’. 

The Angel’s Share is the rate of evaporation from the barrels in which spirit is stored (the name comes from the original belief that it was thirsty angels who helped themselves to the whiskey).

Scotland is much cooler than Kentucky, where Pappy van Winkle is made. This means that it experiences a lower rate of evaporation every year, between 1-3%. In Kentucky that number can be as high as 10%! This means that Bourbon distillers lose a lot more each year to the greedy Angels than Scottish producers. 

By the time a Bourbon reaches 20 or 23 years old, there will be very little left, meaning that the bottles of whiskey of this age are extremely rare, and only a handful of distilleries have the ability to age stock for this long. Luckily, Buffalo Trace is one of them. 

Why is Pappy so expensive?

A large part of Pappy’s RRP cost is due to the reasons above. There are other reasons too, for one, the style of barrel that Pappy van Winkle is aged in. 

As a Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Pappy must be aged in new American oak. This means the casks have never held another spirit, or liquid of any kind for that matter. The porous American oak is very absorbent, so when the Bourbon hits the wood for the first time, a considerable portion is quickly absorbed by the wood. 

This phenomenon is known as ‘The Devil’s Cut’ and increases the year on year loss of spirit, thereby increasing the cost to the distiller and, eventually, the customer. Scottish distillers can use any oak barrels they like, and tend to go for casks that have previously held Bourbon or Sherry, meaning they suffer less of a loss to wood absorption.

New American oak can also overwhelm spirit quite easily, leaving it over-oaked, tannic and bitter. This means that maturing spirit for greater ages requires very dedicated care, attention and cask maturation – all of which adds to man hours and cost. 

Finally, and most crucially, Pappy is expensive due to the hype! Pappy is without a doubt the most sought after whiskey range in the world, with tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of drinkers desperately searching for the juice each year. With such high demand, and such low supply, unscrupulous bottle shops are bound to hike the prices. There’s a reason The Atlantic acclaimed Pappy as ‘The Bourbon Everyone Wants But No-One Can Get’.

Here at Whisky Loot, we’ve tried to make drinking these whiskies as accessible and fair for everyone, producing our signature packs and running our ballot! Enter the ballot here.

What’s different about Pappy van Winkle?

Pappy van Winkle is a “wheated” Bourbon, meaning that wheat replaces rye as the “flavouring grain” in the Bourbon mash-bill (essentially the recipe of the whisky). This creates a softer, more approachable whiskey with less of the fiery spice that rye tends to bring. Whilst there are other wheated Bourbons available on the market (including W.L. Weller, also made at Buffalo Trace) Pappy van Winkle Family Reserve is widely regarded as the pinnacle of this style. 

The biggest difference between Pappy and other Bourbon whiskies is its age – it is extremely rare to find Bourbons aged for the kind of maturations that Pappy enjoys.

We make fine Bourbon at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always, Fine Bourbon"
- Julian ‘Pappy’ van Winkle

Is Pappy van Winkle good?

We’ve been lucky enough to try the Pappy van Winkle Family Reserve and our thoughts are… Believe the hype!

But don’t just take it from us – Pappy van Winkle has been acclaimed and preferred by whiskey experts and world class chefs around the world. David Chang serves it at his award-winning restaurant, Momofuku. Southern food specialist Sean Brock secured an entire cask of the stuff for his restaurant, Husk, with this spirit going down as some of the very best Pappy ever. The late, great, Anthony Bourdain said of Pappy van Winkle: “If God made Bourbon, this is what he’d make.”

Whilst we can’t be sure about God, we do know that Pope Francis is a fan, declaring Pappy “very good Bourbon.”

Of course, the best way to discover if Pappy van Winkle is any good, is to enter our ballot and hope you win! Our Pappy pack is an extremely rare opportunity to try all three Pappy van Winkle Family Reserve whiskies in one go. 

Where is Pappy van Winkle made?

Since 2002, Pappy van Winkle has been produced at the world-famous Buffalo Trace Distillery, after its original home, the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, was sold in 1972 and closed 20 years later. There have been some very subtle changes to the whiskey as a result, but it remains just as delicious and desirable as ever.

How much Pappy van Winkle is made?

Only about 7,000 cases are made every year, and precious little of this outturn ever leaves the US. In Australia, we’re lucky if we get more than a couple of these cases. 

We hope this article has helped answer some of your questions about Pappy van Winkle. At Whisky Loot, we believe the best way to truly learn about spirit is by tasting it. With this in mind, if you really want to understand this remarkable whiskey, you need to try your hand in the ballot, and hope you are one of the lucky winners who gets to enjoy Pappy! 

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