Who Makes Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon? Resolved (2023)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Pappy Van Winkle is regarded as one of the most lauded bourbons in the world, and it can be extremely challenging to find.

Most liquor stores have a month-long waiting list for Pappy bourbons; some sell it on the secondary market at ten times the retail price. 

But who makes Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon, and why is it expensive? Read on to find out. 

Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon’s (Real) Manufacturer 

bottles of pappy van winkle

Pappy Van Winkle bourbons are recently produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Initially, Pappy Van Winkle was distilled by the famed Stitzel-Weller in 1935, but after its sale in 1972, the brand set out on its own. 

It was 2002 when Old Rip Van Winkle connected with the Buffalo Trace for a joint venture.

Buffalo Trace is one of the distilleries owned by Sazerac, a privately held alcoholic beverage company that owns over 450 brands from distilleries around the world. 

But what is poor man’s Pappy Van Winkle?

Companies Who (Presumably) Make It 

Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is the distillery behind the production of the current inventories of Pappy Van Winkle.

The distillery started to produce Pappy Van Winkle bourbons in 2002, and until today, they are committed to producing this finest and premium wheated bourbon. 

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the Vans Winkles and Buffalo Trace.

The distillery announced the annual release of the six Van Winkle expressions along with its MSRP, and it is set to be out this October 2022. 

Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery

Before they joined hands with Buffalo Trace in 2002, the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery made the Pappy bourbons.

Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr was the first in the four generations of Van Winkle, and his son Julian Jr ran the operation of Stitzel-Weller Distillery before its sale in1792. 

Julian Jr. formed the company JP Van Winkle and Son and created the Old Rip Van Winkle label in Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery when they set out on their own. 

In 1981, Julian III took over the business and purchased the Old Hoffman Distillery for barrel storage and bottling purposes of Pappy Van Winkle bourbons


Sazerac contributed as one of the companies involved in making Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.

Sazerac is a multi-billion alcoholic beverage company that owns almost 450 brands around the world. 

They own the Buffalo Trace Distillery, the current producer of the Pappy bourbons, and brands like Eagle Rare, 1792 Bourbon, WL Weller, and many more. 

How Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Is Made 

distillery process

Pappy Van Winkle bourbon is made using Pappy’s exact recipe. The wheated bourbon is made from Buffalo Trace’s mash bill, and while the proportion is not disclosed, it contains wheat instead of rye. 

Since 2002, Buffalo Trace has produced the Van Winkle bourbons from grains to bottling, and using Pappy’s exact recipe; they maintain the strict quality standard of the famous bourbon.

The six Pappy Van bourbons are aged from ten to twenty-three years in new charred oak barrels. 

Where Is Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Made? 

Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon is made in Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Since the joint venture of Van Winkles and Buffalo Trace, the expressions are produced from grain to bottle in Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The Sazerac Company owns Buffalo Trace Distillery. 

Why It’s So Expensive

pappy van winkle bottle on a bar counter

Pappy Van Winkle is expensive because of its extremely high demand and limited supply.

There’s an annual release of Pappy bourbons, but the yearly supply is limited, making it so expensive. 

Here’s the latest released MSRP of Buffalo Trace for the Pappy Van Winkle Bourbons for October 2022:

Pappy Van Bourbon MSRP 
Old Rip Van Winkle Handmade Bourbon 10-Year-Old  $69.99
Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon 12-Year-Old  $79.99
Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13-Year-Old  $119.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 15-Year-Old  $119.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20-Year-Old  $199.99
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 23-Year-Old  $299.99

Unfortunately, the secondary market makes the wheated bourbons more expensive.

The Van Winkles and Buffalo Trace cannot legally force the retailers to follow the MSRP of the bourbons.

The retail pricing of roughly $1000 or more will not be a surprise because of its limited supply. 


What bourbon tastes closest to Pappy?

WL Weller tastes closest to Pappy. In fact, there’s a Poor Man’s Pappy recipe, a combination of WL Weller 12 YO and WL Weller Antique that mimics the Pappy bourbons.

Chances are high because they share the same mash bill and distillery [1].

Can you buy Pappy Van Winkle at the distillery?

Unfortunately, you cannot buy Pappy Van Winkle at the distillery. Due to its popularity and high demand, the Pappy bourbons are distributed to the official retailers.

However, the distillery cannot be in control of the pricing so expect that you will not get it in the MSRP released.  

Who created the first-ever Pappy Van Winkle bourbon?

Julian Van Winkle Sr makes the first-ever Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in the Stitzel-Weller Distillery.

The distillery was in charge of producing Pappy Van Winkle bourbons before it was sold in 1972. 

Final Thoughts

Buffalo Trace Distillery makes Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. With Van Winkle’s concern for the future reserves of their popular wheated bourbon, they’ve decided to join hands with Buffalo Trace Distillery and Sazerac in producing the bourbons

Using Pappy’s exact recipe, Buffalo Trace maintains the strict quality standard for Pappy Van Winkle bourbons.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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