Food - Drink
Was Pappy Van Winkle A Real Person?
BY MEGGAN ROBINSON
You've likely heard of the ultra-collectible bourbon Pappy Van Winkle, which fetches astronomical prices on the secondary bourbon market. Online retailer Wooden Cork lists the current sale price at $1098.99, and that's with a $301 discount — and you may wonder if this reputation is attached to a real person who worked for it.
Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle Sr. was a real person who began his legendary journey in the liquor business at age 18, when he became a salesman for distributor W. L. Weller & Sons. When Pappy died at the age of 91 in 1965, he was the oldest living distiller in the country, and his legacy is carried on by his son Julian P. Van Winkle.
Julian sold Stitzel-Weller Distillery in 1972, then resurrected a pre-Prohibition label called Old Rip Van Winkle, creating the brand we know today. Pappy Van Winkle's legacy is enduring, and one chapter of its story, the notorious "Pappygate" theft in which a million dollar's worth of bourbon was stolen, is featured in Netflix's "The Heist.”