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“A warm and loving reflection that, like good bourbon, will stand the test of time.” —Eric Asimov, The New York Times

The story of 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.

Following his father’s death decades ago, Julian Van Winkle stepped in to try to save the bourbon business his grandfather had founded on the mission statement: “We make fine bourbon—at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon.” With the company in its wilderness years, Julian committed to safeguarding his namesake’s legacy or going down with the ship.

Then he discovered that hundreds of barrels from the family distillery had survived their sale to a multinational conglomerate. The whiskey that Julian produced after recovering those barrels would immediately be hailed as the greatest in the world—and soon would be the hardest to find. Once they had been used up, a fresh challenge began: preserving the taste of Pappy in a new age.

Wright Thompson was invited to ride along as Julian undertook the task. From the Van Winkle family, Wright learned not only about great bourbon but about complicated legacies and the rewards of honoring your people and your craft—lessons that he couldn’t help but apply to his own work and life. May we all be lucky enough to find some of ourselves, as Wright Thompson did, in Pappyland.



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