Does history, taste, or the limited supply make Pappy Van Winkle desirable? It is a bit of all three. Long before Pappygate, Pappy Van Winkle could be purchased like most other whiskies, yes, it was desirable within bourbon circles, but nothing like it is now.

A little history on the heist. In 2013, the distillery reported to police that more than 65 Pappy Van Winkle Reserve cases were stolen from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. When Pappygate concluded, Toby Curtsinger, a warehouse worker with over two decades in the Buffalo Trace organization and nine others were indicted for the theft in 2015. The purported ringleader, Curtsinger, was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released in 2018 after 30 days under Kentucky’s “shock probation” program.

Since the heist, Pappy Van Winkle bourbon has increased in price. The bottle on the secondary market has been sold ten times over retail, and that is being generous. Collectors have gobbled every bottle available, so scarcity has led to desirability. But it is not only collectible. The 15-year-old edition has also been coveted as one of the best-tasting bourbons on the market. It won the best bourbon at the World’s Whiskies Awards and many others.

How can you score a bottle with all this history going against you?


  • Conventions, tastings, and release parties are great places to network. As you do at work, you can also network for a bottle of Pappy. Talk to other enthusiasts about finding a bottle. Bartenders, whiskey clubs, newsletters, and social media are good places to start your journey.

Local Liquor Store

  • Some people get to know the people at the liquor store. It is not taboo, but be careful not to be an idiot. Do not hound the person or ask to see “the hidden backroom.” If they say they don’t have any, believe them. Always be kind. You never know when kindness may pay off with a bottle.


  • Recently, a lot of states and stores have implemented a lottery. The lottery allows anyone who wants a chance to buy the latest release. With no purchase necessary to enter, it is a great way to score a bottle at retail.


  • Fundraisers allowed people to win a bottle of Pappy for around $100 a ticket. Shelters, schools, and other non-profit organizations have benefited from the popularity of the bottle, especially when they promote a good cause. Most organizations sell a limited number of tickets, so the odds of winning are better than most, but you will have to shell out $100 for the chance.

Small Towns

  • Pappy Van Winkle is not just sold in metropolitan areas. Small country stores are usually on the allocation list. Hit small liquor stores on road trips or small get-a-aways. The hunt is just as fun as the chase. Even if you don’t find a bottle of Pappy’s, you may find some other rare bourbon.

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The Bourbon Flight Staff | + posts