When I was a kid, a few friends of mine had a running joke called, “I’ll take you both on in Madden.” The joke was that in Madden video games, it was much easier to win the game as a single player controlling the whole team rather than trying to coordinate complicated passing plays. But the concept of taking on more than your fair share is always desirable if you are a really a competitor, like trying to win a pickup basketball game 2 on 3. Pappy Van Winkle may be shorthanded, but he always wins. Okay, I’m not sure how well that analogy worked, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Pappy Van Winkle 15, my favorite all time whisky. He’s too intimidating to do a review on. But I do want to share some thoughts about him, and his place relative to my whisky journey. The Van Winkle line has everything, flavor, richness, complexity, cache, uniqueness, everything except for availability. Julian Van Winkle has said, or at least implied, that the mystique of the brand is protected by making it a bit hard to get, but I do think it’s gone beyond what their business model predicted. Just a couple of years ago, you would see some Van Winkle sitting on shelves now and then, and the 15 year sold for about $60. Now, it is sold before it even reaches the sales floor (I bought my last bottle for $120 bucks, limit one per customer, and the whisky manager went into the back to get it. Mind you, the warehouse that stored the Van Winkles was damaged by Hurricane Sandy; we were lucky to get any in this area at all). I am hoping that the new ebay policy shrinks the black market markups on it a bit, and therefore increases its availability). I have a small stash of some Van Winkle bourbons which I drink on special occasions. And I do share with friends, because that’s what bourbon lovers do. All this to say, despite Pappy’s greatness, there are so many great whiskies out there, of all styles and at all price points. It’s a practically limitless world of flavors and experiences. It’s silly to get hung up on one specific bottling. I still consider it my “high water mark,” and will work hard to get a bottle every time it’s released, but I won’t lose any more sleep over it. Life’s too short and the whisky world is too grand.