Business

Vintage, upscale bourbon shop opens and it wants to buy yours

Justin Thompson, left and Justin Sloan, right, in the vintage bourbon room at their Justins’ House of Bourbon at the corner of Jefferson and West Main streets. Many of the bottles came from their personal collections.
Justin Thompson, left and Justin Sloan, right, in the vintage bourbon room at their Justins’ House of Bourbon at the corner of Jefferson and West Main streets. Many of the bottles came from their personal collections. cbertram@herald-leader.com

If you’ve ever wanted to buy a classic bottle of booze that isn’t on store shelves anymore, now you can. Legally.

And this goes beyond the unattainable Pappy Van Winkle ... imagine buying and drinking Pappy’s “spiritual” ancestors.

The Kentucky Legislature passed a law last year to let those with alcohol licenses buy and sell “vintage” spirits, which are those not readily available from regular distributors.

A Lexington store is opening to offer a collection, including pre-Prohibition bourbon, for sale.

Justins’ House of Bourbon at 601 West Main Street will hold a grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s an upscale package store, something that no one else in Kentucky has right now,” said co-owner Justin Thompson. “Myself and Justin Sloan have been involved in bourbon a long time ... We feel very confident we’re offering the largest collection of vintage bourbon right now in the U.S., which would make it anywhere in the world.”

The selection includes a broad collection of bourbons from those bottled before Prohibition to some of the most popular bottles of the 2000s, according to a news release. Unique bottles include an Old Grandad bottled in 1913, a W.L. Weller 7-year bourbon bottled in 1943, and an Old Fitzgerald gallon from the 1970’s.

“We have a lot of Old Fitzgerald that came from Stitzel-Weller distillery, which made the Van Winkle name famous,” Thompson said. “And a big collection of gallon-size bottles, which you don’t see that much any more in the U.S. ... Some bottles in the collection are valued at over $20,000 for a bottle. It’s a personal collection that myself and Justin Sloan have been curating for quite some time.”

At the grand opening, customers will have the chance to buy a bottle of Wathen’s Barrel Proof, which came from one of only 25 single barrels offered in the U.S., and a 13-year-old Knob Creek Single Barrel, which was from a private barrel selection.

Sloan, who is a co-owner of The Bourbon Review and Thompson, another co-owner of The Bourbon Review and Belle’s Cocktail House, will be there to answer questions.

They also welcome customers to bring in vintage bourbons and other whiskeys to find out the history of the label or to learn what it might be worth.

“We’re looking to buy more,” Thompson said. “So if folks have questions about an old bottle, maybe they just want the history about it or to get an appraisal … maybe they’re curious about what we might pay for it. We advise folks to make an appointment.”

The store also will have whiskey memorabilia, Thompson said, and eventually will offer tastings.

For more information, go to thehouseofbourbon.com.

"NEAT: The Story of Bourbon" is the title of a documentary about Kentucky's native spirit. It features Central Kentucky resident, actor Steve Zahn.

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