SALT LAKE CITY — “Pappy Van Winkle,” the rare and elusive bourbon, is such a hot item in Utah it’s overwhelming the state’s computer servers.
Pappy Van Winkle is sold for a discount in Utah, thanks to a quirk in our state’s liquor laws. The law mandates cost plus 88% markup, which means the “free market” doesn’t apply (it sells for a lot more outside Utah).
To avoid long lines and a rush from store to store to find a bottle of the coveted liquor, Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control launched a special website where they would hold a drawing for rare alcohols. People sign up and their name is drawn at random. (The DABC can’t call it a lottery because those are illegal in Utah.)
It worked fine for months on bottles of other rare liquors. But Pappy Van Winkle is such a highly coveted item it overwhelmed the site on Tuesday night.
“It hit the news and a lot of people went and registered,” DABC spokesman Terry Wood said. “It didn’t crash it, but it slowed it down.”
Prior to Tuesday, there were about 600 people registered for the DABC’s High Demand Rare Liquor drawing. By mid-day Wednesday, there were more than 5,500. Wood said state IT workers have added more servers, but the bulk of the rush appears to be over.
The DABC will close the Pappy drawing next week. Winners will be notified and they can pick up a bottle at their pre-selected liquor store. The odds of winning are greatly decreased now. For example, Wood said, there is now a .044% chance of winning a bottle of the 18-year Pappy Sazerac Rye.