Fans camp out for Pappy Van Winkle, considered among best bourbons

Party Source supply goes up for sale Thursday
Posted at 10:54 PM, Nov 11, 2015
and last updated 2016-11-10 07:07:25-05

BELLEVUE, Ky. -- It's not Black Friday or the line for Justin Bieber tickets: The folks camped out Wednesday night were waiting to get their hands on some bourbon.

Not just bourbon, really, but Pappy Van Winkle, considered some of the best and rarest bourbon available, going for up to $230 a bottle.

"It's pretty much gained notoriety as the Great White Whale of bourbon," Marty Holland told WCPO at 2015's event.

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Holland is a manager at Party Source in Bellevue; they've got a shipment, and it goes up for sale at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Because Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort makes extremely limited quantities of Pappy Van Winkle -- using a family recipe that dates back to the 1800s -- camping out to snag a bottle has become something of a tradition for its biggest fans.

Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old Family Reserve. Photo by Craig L. Duncan

By Thursday morning, the line of bourbon fans stretched around the building toward its back parking lot.

At least one fan said they had been in line for 32 hours just to get their hands on a bottle in 2015.

"You have people who are gathered for the same reason, who have the same hobby, who are crazy enough to spend the night in the middle of November to pursue it," Mark Aseltine said.

Party Source has strict rules: One bottle per customer on a first-come, first-served basis.

"There are no reservations, no holds, no paying in advance, no paying over the phone, no online orders, no bartering or begging," the store wrote in its announcement.

That's just fine to folks like Aseltine, who pitched tents last year and were more than happy to wait it out in the cold and rain.

"Go back a few years, and you have people lining up for toys for the kids for Christmas," he said. "I don't have kids, and this is my Christmas."