Booze | October 7, 2020 12:58 pm

Everything You Need to Know About the 2020 Pappy Van Winkle Releases

Including, yes, some advice on how to actually score a bottle

Van Winkle's bourbons announced for 2020
This year's batch of Van Winkle whisky has been announced
Marvin Joseph / The Washington Post / Getty Images

If you’re waiting on this year’s supply of Pappy, you may be in for a surprise or two. According to a new press release, the Van Winkle whiskeys up for release in November will feature the about the same (limited) amount of 10-, 12- and 15-year bourbon as previous years, but the 20- and 23-year-old barrels “yielded far fewer bottles” this time out. However, there is more 13-year rye available.

The releases and their suggested retail price (prices which you will likely never find in the wild, of course):

• $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

“Unfortunately even though we suggest what we believe to be a very low and fair MSRP, we cannot control the price retailers charge, and some retailers mark it up even though we and the distributors that those retailers buy from ask them not to,” says Julian Van Winkle, president of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery. “We are committed to releasing quality whiskey at a reasonable cost and we hope retailers will honor what we suggest as a fair retail price.”

The distillery — a joint venture with Buffalo Trace — suggests buyers be “wary of online resellers such as private Facebook groups, Craigslist and other online marketplaces” and “file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or contact your state Attorneys General office” if they see a bottle above the suggested MSRP.

Since this will never happen, we’re gonna give the same advice we always give: the best way to get one of these bottles is to basically call every liquor store you think might get a bottle (Van Winkle’s site can help) and ask if they are holding a lottery. In control states — where the liquor stores are government operated — you can put your name into a statewide lottery (e.g., if you were in Pennsylvania in 2016, you had a two percent of winning an opportunity to buy Pappy at retail prices). You could also try to win a bottle by becoming a member of Pursuit of Pappy.

Unfortunately, unlike years past, Bourbonr retired their Pappy release map in 2019.

Most experts suggest becoming friendly with your local liquor store — regulars who actually like and know their bourbon are likely to get more of a heads up about rare spirits. (As well, seek out restaurants and bars with good whiskey libraries if you’re only interested in tasting, not owning. An older list can be found here, though due to closings and COVID, that list may be out of date.)

Some more useful Pappy info and wheated whisky alternatives can be found here.