Bourbon Industry

Bourbon fans camp out for rare bottles from Buffalo Trace

Pappy Van Winkle isn't the only bourbon with an ardent Kentucky fan base: collectors lined up in Lexington and elsewhere Friday for chances to buy one of five labels released as part of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.

At the Liquor Barn Express in Chevy Chase, Faris Sardar and his wife, Erica, were a little too late even though they got there before 9 a.m.

"We were having breakfast at Josie's and saw the store was open, so we came over," she said.

The store apparently got only nine bottles, and those were already in the hands of the few who had waited outside before dawn.

Robert Derrick Franklin of Lexington came out, bag in hand. He got one of the two George T. Stagg bottles. And he considered it well worth a cold night in a folding chair on the sidewalk.

"We came straight from the (University of Kentucky-Auburn football) game. We got here at 10:30 p.m.," Franklin said.

But they weren't the first in line. "The two in front of us got here at 9:30."

One of Franklin's friends got a much-coveted William Larue Weller; another got a bottle of Thomas H. Handy rye.

Dexter Murray, who also waited, got a Handy rye. "One bottle away from a Larue Weller," Murray said. "Next time."

As with the elusive Pappy, chasing the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection has become a ritual for many bourbon fans, many of whom eagerly await the release of Van Winkle and were disappointed to learn Wednesday that there would be much less available this year because of excessive evaporation.

But that won't stop diehards like Franklin and his friends from trying, whenever they catch word of the shipment.

"We'll be back," he said.