Kentuckians love bourbon. In fact, that very well may be the state’s official motto. So when a liquor store in the Bluegrass State decided to raffle off 100 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle, a rare and expensive bourbon, it’s not surprising a lot of people showed up. However, it’s unlikely these proprietors expected 1,000 to show up.
The liquor handed out raffle tickets to everyone in attendance. The line stretched around the building and almost back around to the start of the line. Winners had the right to buy any bottle of Pappy’s they wanted. There were around 25 bottles of the 23-year and 20-year, and 75 for the 15, 12, and 10-years. Preston Van Winkle, Pappy’s Marketing Director and son of the owner, was in attendance to talk about each bottle of bourbon as the raffle went on.
Pappy Van Winkle’s garnered a cult following for its scarcity. A 23-year bottle of Pappy’s retails around $240, although that number is significantly higher on the secondary market. Van Winkle fanatics are so devoted they’re willing to spend almost $2,500 for one bottle. Apparently people will pay anything to get trashed in style.
Perhaps some of the 1,000 people who showed up for the raffle did so because they’ve seen some of the headlines Pappy’s has made recently. First, there was the story about 65 cases of the bourbon being stolen from a factory, with a $10,000 reward being offered for anyone who can help solve the case. Then last week we reported on a Louisville bar that used a year’s worth of Pappy’s to make jello shots causing outrage in the community. And just last night the bourbon was featured on an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.
Whatever reason they had, the fact that 1,000 people came out in the middle of the night for a slim chance to win a bottle of Pappy’s shows the fanaticism associated with the brand. Kentuckians haven’t been this upset since the state legislature proposed a law banning marriage between cousins.
Joseph Misulonas is an intern for Playboy.com. He would really appreciate it if people from Kentucky would stop sending him hate mail. He can be found on Twitter at @jmisulonas.