A lot of bits were spilt earlier this year about the contents of Van Winkle bottles, in particular the presence or absence of Stitzel-Weller bourbon, an increasingly scarce and precious resource since it stopped being made back in 1992.
This is not about any of that but rather a little story about the Whiskey Obsession, also known as Whiskirexia Nervosa, a condition whose principal symptom is an unreasonable belief that no matter how many bottles of whiskey you already have, there is one more you desperately need.
Everett's is a liquor store in South Beloit, Illinois, which is right on the Wisconsin border. It's a good store and they do some excellent single barrel selections, chosen by either Bryan (pictured above in 2006) or his father, Brian.
It was in 2006 that someone was watching the web cam in the single barrel bottling house at Buffalo Trace Distillery and saw them dump two Stitzel-Weller barrels that were something like 14 and 16 years old, respectively. The whiskey was being bottled as Weller 12-Year-Old for Everett's, as evidenced by the gold sticker being affixed to the bottles.
The rumor was that Julian Van Winkle III was furious when he found out about it. They were BT's barrels, the story goes, but Julian coveted them for his Van Winkle label.
Word of the bottling spread quickly throughout the bourbonian community.
The store didn't know what it had and priced them at $20 a bottle, and even gave their usual 5% discount on cases. To their credit, they didn't raise the price even after they started to get phone calls from all over the world. Of course, they wouldn't ship.
I immediately dropped what I was doing, drove out from Chicago, and got a case. That was a 3+ hour round trip for me, but I heard someone came from Pennsylvania, and a couple people came from Indianapolis.
I have a few bottles left and try to resist opening them because I think they're defective. Almost as soon as they're open, they're empty. I can't explain it.