EXCLUSIVE: Rare ‘Pappy Van Winkle’ bourbon returns to Utah liquor stores

Posted at 5:11 PM, Dec 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-23 20:04:20-05

MURRAY, Utah -- Call it an early Christmas present from Utah's liquor control authority.

FOX 13 has learned a handful of liquor stores across the state got a surprise shipment of the rare "Pappy Van Winkle" bourbon. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has quietly shipped out 100 bottles of 10, 12, 15 and 20-year Old Rip Van Winkle to be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The bottles have been shipped to liquor stores in St. George, Park City, Bountiful, Ogden and Murray.

At the Murray store, people lined up early to get a ticket to buy one of the 33 bottles available. They sold out in minutes.

Bottles of Pappy Van Winkle sell for thousands of dollars in other states. Some bars have been known to charge more than $100 for a shot of Pappy. The limited edition bourbon is so rare, it's been the subject of heists.

Utah's typically strict liquor laws mandate product be sold at cost plus an 86% markup. With an inflated price for Pappy, it's that rare moment when Utah's liquor laws work in the consumer's favor -- a bottle of the 20-year batch sold for $161 with tax.

But if anyone is thinking about putting a bottle up for sale on the Internet, the DABC says think again: It is a crime to sell alcohol in Utah without a license.

Many customers in line at the Murray store joked about selling the precious amber liquid, but when they got a bottle they hesitated.

"I've never tried it, so I'm interested. At the same time, I don't want to crack it open," one man said as he left with a bottle tucked under his arm. "We'll see."

When FOX 13 first reported on Pappy Van Winkle in Utah earlier this year, the story triggered huge lines outside liquor stores across the state. It is unknown when -- or if -- it will ever return.

"We don't actually know when we're going to get our allocation," DABC spokeswoman Vickie Ashby told FOX 13. "We get maybe a little bit of notice and then they show up. We don't know the amount or how much we're going to get."

It is possible to get a stock update on the DABC's website for any liquor sold in state stores. View the online product inventory here.