The Real Reason Pappy Van Winkle Is So Expensive

When it comes to liquor, there are regular options and top shelf options. Pappy Van Winkle is a few steps above top shelf. For those who haven't been chasing a bottle for years, Pappy Van Winkle is a type of bourbon that can cost over $2,000 a bottle (via Cool Material). Now, you may find some information showing that a bottle technically only costs a few hundred dollars — $130 to start, up to $270 for the top of the line 23 Year (via Gear Patrol). However, it's rare that you'll simply stroll into a liquor store and find a few bottles ready to purchase.

The first major reason for the high price tag is simply a matter of supply and demand. Bourbon fans everywhere want to taste the elusive concoction, yet the producer only releases about 7,000 to 8,000 cases of Family Reserve each year, which works out to approximately 84,000 bottles. This may not seem like such a limited amount, but to put it into perspective, big bourbon brands like Jim Beam release about 84 million bottles per year.

Pappy Van Winkle bourbon has developed a bit of a magical vibe around it, and in some ways, the inability to simply buy a bottle anywhere or walk into any bar for a glass just makes it all the more tantalizing for bourbon fans. They're willing to put the time and effort — and money, should they stumble across a bottle — into the quest.

Can you really taste the difference?

With such a high price tag, many non-bourbon fans may wonder whether it could possibly be worth it. Apparently, yes. The legendary Anthony Bourdain tasted it in an episode of his show "The Layover" and stated that "if God made bourbon, this is what he'd make" (via Wine Enthusiast). He even contemplated getting a massive back tattoo dedicated to the brand (via Twitter).

The level of aging is one of the things that sets Pappy Van Winkle apart from other bourbons on the market. While many start on the lower end, aging their bottles three to five years, Pappy Van Winkle's minimum is 15 years aged (via Cool Material). In fact, the least amount of aging they offer is 10 years for their Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon (via Buffalo Trace Distillery), which would be considered a reserve bottle for many other brands. Pappy Van Winkle has also racked up piles of awards for the superior taste of its products.

If you're waffling on whether or not the pricey tag is worth the product, just take a moment to be glad you're not a wine connoisseur. Though Pappy Van Winkle's price is nothing to sneeze at, there are rare bottles of wine that are occasionally auctioned off for the same amount that you might pay for an actual house. Just a few years ago, a bottle of 73-year-old French Burgundy sold for a whopping $558,000 (via CNBC).