For bourbon drinkers, the name Pappy Van Winkle represents one of the most highly regarded brands in America. People line up for the opportunity to buy even one ounce at cost and willingly pay thousands for a bottle of their own.
Kristopher Hart, the host of the Whiskey Neat podcast (produced in conjunction with CultureMap parent company Gow Media) and the organizer of the Houston Whiskey Social, wants to help one lucky Houstonian get a bottle of Pappy without spending a dime courtesy of a special scavenger hunt where the top prize is a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15-year, which has a retail price of about $120 but routinely trades on secondary markets for close to $1,500 (Hart paid £1,200 at an auction for the bottle used in the giveaway).
In addition to the PVW15, Hart has partnered with downtown whiskey bar Reserve 101 to give away secondary prizes that include bottles of Blanton’s, Weller 12-year, Old Rip Van Winkle 10-year, Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-year, and E.H. Taylor single barrel. Winners will also receive discounts at Reserve 101 that range from $25 off to a free pour of any of the bar’s 300-plus whiskeys. Hart estimates a collector would expect to spend around $3,000 to acquire these bottles through the secondary market or via a liquor store that charges above retail prices for sought after bottles.
“All of these bottles are progressively harder to find at retail, unless you spend lots of money a year, like thousands upon thousands at either a mom and pop or Spec’s [as part of a loyalty program],” Hart says. “They’re basically impossible to find. It’s probably safe to say it’s easier to go on a scavenger hunt to find these bottles than it is to find them at retail.”
A time capsule containing a certificate that the winner will exchange for the bottle has been buried somewhere within the Houston city limits that isn’t private property, Hart says. The hiding spot, which is known only to Hart, “has to do with a historical aspect of Houston,” he adds. Boxes containing challenge coins for the secondary prizes have also been hidden around Houston.
The complete rules for the contest may be found on Hart’s website, but they essentially come down to “have fun, be safe, and please for the love of God don’t sue me or Reserve 101,” he says lightheartedly.
To make the hunt a little easier, Hart will release clues via his Instagram account (@whiskypete) and on his weekly podcast. The first clue, embedded below, shows a train that looks suspiciously like the one on the City of Houston Official Seal as well as a book titled Death By Black Hole.
OK then. Let's get this party started. The Inaugural Whisky Pete Pappy Hunt kicks off today. The first day of Bourbon Heritage month. Be paying close attention to Whisky Pete's Instagram account (@WhiskyPete) and to each week's episode of Whiskey Neat on ESPN and our YouTube channel. In addition to the awesome lineup of 6 bottles up for grabs we have partnered with one of Houston's most recognized Whiskey Bars, Reserve 101. "This was an opportunity to get Houston out and about again, and get some conversations about whiskey going. At the start of this year, we were excited to begin this new path for Reserve 101, but you know, 2020. So we saw this as a great idea from the jump, and we just wanted to see if we could make it even better. " On top of contributing 5 bottles of rare whiskey, together we're turning it up a notch by the addition of Clue Coins and free pours. For the finders of the clues, each clue will earn them a coin. The coin will then be redeemable for a pour if whiskey at Reserve 101, once they're back up and running of course. Each progressive coin yields a higher price point; the first coin will be worth up to $25, the second $50, the third $75, the fourth $100, the fifth $125, with the grand prize winner receiving a coin to trade for any pour in the building, any time, with no expiration date. "We’ll have some of the rarest whiskeys available on our bar at any given time, and the owner of the grand prize coin can use it whenever he or she likes. Any pour. Any time. Keep in mind, this is not a gift certificate. This is not a coupon. It’s a coin to exchange for one pour of whiskey at that price point, any time you want to trade it in. We want to take the risk out of trying something new." With more than $3000 in rare whiskeys and another $500 in free pours at Reserve 101... Not to mention the final coin with no limit in buying power, this is a great kickoff to the first Ever Bourbon Scavanger hunt of its kind. Good luck and remember... The clues could come in any form from within the episodes to in the caption of posts. Official rules at www.whiskypete.com Cheers Houston. (📸@jocknairn_art)
Sep 1, 2020 at 8:53am PDT
Hart says those details led some people to search around Black Hole Coffee, but the bottle isn’t there (that would be too easy). Searchers will know they’re in the vicinity of either the main prize or a secondary prize when they see Hart’s Whisky Pete logo. Finding one of the secondary prizes not only brings a coveted bottle and a discount at Reserve 101; the person will also receive a private clue as to the location of the main prize.
If everything goes according to plan, the contest will run through the end of September, aka Bourbon Heritage Month. With the city’s whiskey obsessives buzzing, Hart’s already looking towards next year.
“I think this will be something we can continue to grow every year,” Hart says. “We want to double this next year. We want to make this much larger, more valuable bottles, more fun.”