Kentucky's Father Jim Sichko is no stranger to publicity but even this social-media savvy priest is surprised that his gift of a bottle of Pappy to Pope Francis has gone viral.
Last night, comedian James Corden, host of "The Late Late Show," picked up the story, complete with the photo of a very happy pontiff reaching for the bourbon, under the headline: "Kentucky priest delivers 10 bottles of Whiskey to Vatican."
"Ten bottles of whiskey? Because nine's just not enough," Corden joked.
"Apparently the pope loves the Father, the Son and all of the holy spirits. ... Which explains why this morning's 9 o'clock mass was held a 2 p.m.," Corden said. "I'm not saying he drank it all but he did start his last sermon with 'peace be with you ... with you ... and with you, man, I love you so much. In fact peace be with all of you! Should we go to a Waffle House?"
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Actually, Sichko only gave the pope one bottle, but it was 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, which the pope acknowledged as "very good bourbon."
But, as the Herald-Leader reported Monday, Sichko brought 10 or so bottles of Kentucky bourbon, including Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, Four Roses and more Van Winkle labels to the Vatican, where he judiciously passed them out to officials who protect the pope and his retinue.
Distillery Daily tweeted:
"Kentucky priest seals his passage into heaven by providing Pope Francis and his security detail with rare bottles of #PappyVanWinkle and other rare Kentucky #Bourbon. Well done, Father @JimSichko, well done. Blessings..."
Sichko, who travels constantly as one of 100 papal missionaries of mercy in the U.S., said he has an interview with Esquire ("whatever this is") coming up, too.
"I never imagined bringing a bottle of top-notch bourbon to the holy father would draw such attention," Sichko said in a message. "If anything ... I guess it's a unique way of evangelizing and sharing about the ministry to which so many of us have been called."
Bourbon evangelism, indeed.