As a journalist said of Pappy Van Winkle, "You could call it bourbon, or you could call it a $5,000 bottle of liquified, barrel-aged unobtanium." Julian Van Winkle, the third-generation head of his family's business, is now thought of as something like the Buddha of Bourbon-Booze Yoda, as Wright Thompson calls him. He is swarmed wherever he goes, and people stand in long lines to get him to sign their bottles of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, the whiskey he created to honor his grandfather, the founder of the family concern. A bottle of the 23-year-old Pappy starts at $3000 on the internet. As Julian is the first to say, things have gone completely nuts.
This is a journey that blends together biography, autobiography, Kentucky history, the story of bourbon's origins and an insider's look at how the Van Winkle whiskey is made and marketed. Thompson, an ESPN senior writer by way of Mississippi, is a keen literary observer and respectful fan with an obvious affection for his subject. If you're a fan of the magic that is an artful bourbon, or horse racing or Kentucky or the trifecta that is all three — this is just the book for you.