How much would you be be willing to pay for a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle—maybe $2,000 or $3,000 tops? Apparently some people will pay much more than that, because a bottle of 23-year-old recently sold for $52,500 at auction, setting a new record for this extremely collectible unicorn whiskey brand.
The auction took place at Sotheby’s in New York as part of a collection called Whisky & Whiskey | Seasonal Spirits and The Yamazaki 55. These bottles, which included rare expressions from The Macallan as well as the revered and virtually unobtainable Yamazaki 55, brought in the grand total of $1,786,625 (Sotheby’s has auctioned off nearly $12 million worth of whisky in 2022 alone). The Pappy in question is a 23 Year Old Family Reserve bottle that was originally released in 2008, so this whiskey was distilled well before the brand was acquired by Buffalo Trace in 2002 and is likely Stitzel-Weller produced.
According to a rep for Sotheby’s, two collectors squared off in a bidding battle for this Pappy, ultimately driving the price well above the initial pre-sale estimate of $3,000-$4,000. “It was exciting to be on the rostrum conducting the sale for this record-breaking bottle, which went far beyond anyone’s expectations,” said Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Head of Whisky & Spirits, North America and EMEA, in a statement. “The auction marked a remarkable end to a year that has seen prices soar for American whiskey at Sotheby’s.”
There were a total of 14 bottles of Pappy up for auction, and the combined sales reached nearly $400,000. This included some other records—a bottle of Pappy 15 sold for $9,375 and a bottle of 20-year-old went for $27,500. The Pappy brand continues to be a whiskey fan favorite—the 2022 lineup was recently announced, boot company Wolverine released boots with heels made using Pappy barrels, and you can now buy shares in Pappy without having to actually purchase a bottle. So happy Pappy hunting to all you scrappy bourbon enthusiasts, because the chase isn’t getting any easier.