Calling all bourbon drinkers! Join the Charleston Library Society in conversation with Julian Van Winkle, Wright Thompson, and Ace Atkins as they discuss Wright’s book, Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last. This fascinating story focuses on how Julian Van Winkle III, the caretaker of the most coveted cult Kentucky Bourbon whiskey in the world, fought to protect his family’s heritage and preserve the taste of his forebears, in a world where authenticity, like his product, is in very short supply.
Wright Thompson was the mastermind in piecing together this extraordinary testimony on the challenge of living up to your legacy and the rewards that come from knowing and honoring your people and your craft. Thompson’s friend & returning author, Ace Atkins, will add another layer of Southern storytelling to the event, and this amazing trio is sure to create a lively conversation for everyone to enjoy!
This event is free, but an RSVP is required, and you will receive your Zoom invitation email the day of the event. If you pre-order or purchase a copy of Pappyland through Buxton Books, you will be entered in our giveaway of a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve.
Click this link to pre-order or purchase your copy: https://buxton-books.square.site/product/pappyland-a-story-of-family-find-bourbon-and-the-things-that-last/3201?cs=true
ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a journalist said of Pappy Van Winkle, “You could call it bourbon, or you could call it a $5,000 bottle of liquified, barrel-aged unobtanium.” Julian Van Winkle, the third-generation head of his family’s business, is now thought of as something like the Buddha of Bourbon – Booze Yoda, as Wright Thompson calls him. He is swarmed wherever he goes, and people stand in long lines to get him to sign their bottles of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, the whiskey he created to honor his grandfather, the founder of the family concern. A bottle of the 23-year-old Pappy starts at $3000 on the internet. As Julian is the first to say, things have gone completely nuts.
Forty years ago, Julian would have laughed in astonishment if you’d told him what lay ahead. He’d just stepped in to try to save the business after his father had died, partly of heartbreak, having been forced to sell the old distillery in a brutal downturn in the market for whiskey. Julian’s grandfather had presided over a magical kingdom of craft and connoisseurship, a genteel outfit whose family ethos generated good will throughout Kentucky and far beyond. There’s always a certain amount of romance to the marketing of spirits, but Pappy’s mission statement captured something real: “We make fine bourbon – at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon.” But now the business had hit the wilderness years, and Julian could only hang on for dear life, stubbornly committed to preserving his namesake’s legacy or going down with the ship.Then something like a miracle happened: it turned out that hundreds of very special barrels of whiskey from the Van Winkle family distillery had been saved by the multinational conglomerate that bought it. With no idea what they had, they offered to sell it to Julian, who scrambled to beg and borrow the funds. Now he could bottle a whiskey whose taste captured his family’s legacy. The result would immediately be hailed as the greatest whiskey in the world – and would soon be the hardest to find.But now, those old barrels were used up, and Julian Van Winkle faced the challenge of his lifetime: how to preserve the taste of Pappy, the taste of his family’s heritage, in a new age? The amazing Wright Thompson was invited to be his wingman as he set about to try. The result is an extraordinary testimony to the challenge of living up to your legacy and the rewards that come from knowing and honoring your people and your craft. Wright learned those lessons from Julian as they applied to the honest work of making a great bourbon whiskey in Kentucky, but he couldn’t help applying them to his own craft, writing, and his upbringing in Mississippi, as he and his wife contemplated the birth of their first child. May we all be lucky enough to find some of ourselves, as Wright Thompson did, in Julian Van Winkle, and in Pappyland.
Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He formerly worked at The Kansas City Star and Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Thompson’s topics have covered a wide range of sports issues, from football, basketball, and baseball, to car racing, sports history, Father’s Day, and bullfighting. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family.
Julian P. Van Winkle, III is the third generation Van Winkle to produce bourbon whiskey in Kentucky. He joined his father, Julian, Jr., in 1977. At that time, Old Rip Van Winkle produced only two labels of their wheated bourbon whiskey. They were a 10-year 90 and 107 proof Old Rip Van Winkle.Since then Julian has added 12-year, 15-year, 20-year and 23-year bourbon labels to the Van Winkle selection of premium bourbon whiskeys. He has also added a 13-year premium rye whiskey to the whiskey portfolio. All of these whiskeys have received ratings in the 90’s by the Beverage Tasting Institute in Chicago, with the 20-year, “Pappy Van Winkle’s Family
Reserve” receiving a 99 rating.
Julian operated the company by himself since his father’s death in 1981. However, he was joined by his son Preston in June of 2001, the fourth generation Van Winkle to venture into the whiskey business. Then in 2002, Julian and Buffalo Trace Distillery became partners where Buffalo Trace distills, ages and bottles all the Van Winkle whiskeys.
In January of 2009, Julian was honored to be nominated as a Fellow at the Southern Foodways Alliance annual fundraiser at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. Next January, at the same fundraising event, he will be inducted as a new member into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans and Chefs. This is a tremendous honor as the group members are some of the most talented people around.
In March of 2009 & 2010, Julian was nominated for a James Beard award under the category of Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional. The James Beard awards are the Oscars of the Food & Beverage world. The award in
2009 was won by Dale DeGroff, one of the world’s best mycologists. The 2010 award was won by John Shafer, one of Napa’s best wine makers. In May of 2011, Julian was won the prestigious Wine & Spirits Professional award and was at the Lincoln Center in New York City to receive his award. He was the first Kentuckian to receive a James Beard award. Whisky Magazine has honored Julian Van Winkle III with its highest accolade, inducting him into its Hall of Fame. Julian was recognized at the 2017 Whisky Magazine Awards America presentation held in New York on Feb. 28. He is one of only 39 to be awarded this honor.
New York Times Bestselling author Ace Atkins has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction, including the Edgar three times, twice for novels about former U.S. Army Ranger Quinn Colson. He has written nine books in the Colson series and continued Robert B. Parker’s iconic Spenser character after Parker’s death in 2010, adding seven best-selling novels in that series. A former newspaper reporter and SEC football player, Ace also writes essays and investigative pieces for several national magazines including Time, Outside and Garden & Gun. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family, where he’s friend to many dogs and several bartenders.