Julian Proctor Van Winkle III and his son Julian Preston Van Winkle are the proprietors of Kentucky's Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, and they make the best bourbon in the world at a rate of roughly 7,000 cases per year. Which is why you can't find any of it, anywhere. Sighting a bottle of the 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve, which retails at $130, in a liquor store is like spotting a Scaly-Sided Merganser in the wild. The Van Winkles are personally beset by desperate high-class drunks seeking an in. Personal assistants have wasted days trying to track down bottles for well-heeled bosses. Pappy is furtively deployed to seal multi-million-dollar business deals. Leads are whispered about among aficionados: "I heard about a warehouse in Jersey that just got a shipment."
Someone finally got fed up and just stole a bunch of the stuff. According to the Louisville Courier Journal, earlier this week thieves broke into the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky. (where Van Winkle makes its magic), and made off with 195 bottles of the 20-year Pappy and nine cases of 13-year-old rye. The retail value comes to $26,000, but the street value is considerably higher. The 20-year, the Courier reports, can go for up to $400 a bottle on the secondary market, meaning the thieves could pull in $78,000. (The rye is less valuable, because really, why would you drink rye?)
Anyway, if you stole this Pappy and you want to sell some to me contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.