Pappy Van Winkle in NYC
November 1, 2012 9:22 AM   Subscribe

How can I get a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle in NYC?

I'm looking for the 15 year specifically, but would also be interested in the cheaper options. The distillery's Facebook page said on October 17 that shipments to wholesalers will begin going out "in the next few weeks," with inventory in stores "a week or two after that," so I don't know if I'm early or already SOL. I don't know anything about whisky or buying it, so I don't know the best places to try (and cold calling every liquor store in NYC seems like a daunting task).
posted by anonymous to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think cold calling is exactly the way to go. Maybe start with Astor Wines and if they can't help ask them for thoughts and recommendations on where else to call?
posted by AwkwardPause at 9:24 AM on November 1, 2012

Honestly, cold call everywhere. Finding that stuff is like finding Moby Dick.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:29 AM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

This place in Brooklyn sells it, although they note they don't have it in stock at the moment but will get some in soon. But they are a specialist whisky retailer, so there is a reasonable expectation they'll get some.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:35 AM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

nb Astor Wines is in the powerless dark zone of downtown nyc currently.
posted by elizardbits at 9:42 AM on November 1, 2012

try sherry-lehmann on park ave and 59th street for starters.
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on November 1, 2012

Not in NYC, but my partner is on a waiting list for Pappy at our local liquor store. Their shipment never makes it onto the shelves because they sell out by going down the list. We got on the list by asking if they ever get it in stock. If you call places, maybe ask if they keep a list or would call you when they get it in.
posted by artdesk at 9:44 AM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just put myself on the waiting list here at a local liquor store, and the wait looks to be about 2 years. It never sees the shelves around here, either, and I'm in the middle of bourbon/whiskey central.

My bet is that it's sold out everywhere for the reasons listed above, so your only hope may be a waiting list or maybe the aftermarket. Craigslist, maybe?
posted by jquinby at 10:33 AM on November 1, 2012

The 15 is the one everybody wants. A store that is on the list may get one mixed case, of which 2 or 3 bottles will be the 15, of which one of the employees will take one & the others will go to long time customers. Until a couple of years ago, you would occasionally see PVW on the shelf, but no more. Cold call everybody. Your best bet will be a big store that moves a lot of product (hence has good relations with their distributor) but which is NOT on the radar of the connoisseurs: i.e. not Astor or Sherry Lehmann.

The 12 is awfully good & in slightly better supply, btw.

If you can find the 15 in the aftermarket expect to pay about 2x retail, i.e. around $150.

I recently had a bottle of Vintage Bourbon 17 Year Old, made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, and I thought it made a fair substitute for the van Winkle.
posted by mr vino at 11:48 AM on November 1, 2012

I've my first bottle by asking at every shop in my neighborhood (it helped that I regularly buy single-malts and bourbons are several of them), putting my name on the list at those shops that said they might be able to get one, and then checking back - in person - every couple months. After I got my first bottle, I've been a loyal customer of that one shop since. I get a bottle a year. It's a treat.

(A friend got lucky by asking the owner of the bar where he first tasted a glass. He paid a hell of a markup, though.)
posted by minervous at 2:28 PM on November 1, 2012

Gotham Wines on Broadway just south of 96th St and Columbus Wines and Spirits on Columbus and 90-something might be two stores that move a lot of product without being so much on the radar of connoisseurs.

And on the off chance that the Upper West Side is your neighborhood, Gotham Wines takes better care of you if you let them know that you're a local and if you shop there regularly.
posted by psycheslamp at 4:41 PM on November 1, 2012

A slightly orthogonal answer. Have you tried looking for the Jefferson's presidential 18? I believe it is the last of the old Stitzel-Weller stock from before Van Winkle was sold and eventually stopped producing their own product. I have had slightly better luck finding this bottle than a branded Van Winkle.
posted by phil at 6:08 PM on November 1, 2012

I'm on the opposite coast, but the only people I know who get bottles of the 15 are those who have cultivated a good relationship with a local shop. That means going to that shop all year around and buying lots of stuff. Get to know the owner and buyer and you will get on the short list for high-demand things like the 15. Or, you can go the aftermarket route and pay the high mark-up.
posted by quince at 7:13 PM on November 1, 2012

I worked in a fine wine/liquor shop in Kentucky and I can confirm that yes, generally only people who have cultivated a close relationship with the shop were offered a chance to buy Pappy. Cold calling our shop got you put on a waiting list, yes, but honestly we never got in enough Pappy to even get to the waiting list. I put people on the wait list but I was mentally laughing or rolling my eyes.

However, there was one kind of situation where we sold it to strangers. Occasionally the store owner would promise a bottle to someone who didn't actually come in and buy it in a reasonable time frame. The owner would be annoyed and then if someone came in at just the right moment--like in the last hour before close when nobody else is in the store, and asks reeeeeeally nicely, he'd cold sell a bottle.

So if I were you, I'd wait a week or even longer after distribution goes out. Come in late or early when the store is absolutely dead. Browse around, be friendly, buy something else. Then ask politely. And eventually you might get lucky.

And for next year, start buttering up your local shop now.
posted by sunnichka at 10:42 PM on November 2, 2012

Astor Wines has a lottery. Get on the list. They have power now. I got a bottle from them last year via the lottery. I've also seen the 23rd year old in the locked case there.

Union Sq Wines also keeps a waiting list. I've gotten lucky there in past years.
posted by kathryn at 2:14 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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