I spent some of this past Saturday and parts of the last 3 evenings trying to gather in a few bottles I had put off buying as the Christmas rush tends to empty out some of the better offerings in my area. In doing so, I asked about the rumored Pappy arrival in the Memphis metro area. Same story everywhere I went: just a few select stores received any at all and the few who did had everything spoken for already. While this was not totally unexpected, what was unexpected was to find out how very little came into the area: somewhere between 24-48 bottles in total spread out between about a dozen stores. This is a reduction of more than 50% from this time last year. A few stores said they got a grand total of 1 bottle. Also, it does not appear that any VWFRR was shipped to said area. Also, what was even more disconcerting was hearing that there will be a 25% price increase in the 2013 Pappy release. All in all, glad I was not in the hunt this year and if the price increase is more than rumor, not likely I will ever again get a "Pappy Hunting License".
In Washington state, there were very few bottles allocated in general and the distributor who has monopoly on BTAC/Pappy has been denying bottles to retailers (saving the bulk of the bottles for restaurants).
Given the recent transition from State Monopoly, all-time Pappy/BTAC hype, and Young's Distributors unpopular (some would say unfair) practices, we are seeing an already ridiculous scene exacerbated by this perfect storm of circumstances.
This is another thread that I really don't want to wade in to, but I can't help myself.
Many SB'ers noticed the additional marketing push by the Van Winkles in the last few years and there were some questions here about the motivation.
I wonder if the expanded marketing and increase in retail pricing is just a factor of the difference between the cost of the SW barrels that they sourced and bottled for years and new pricing for the BT distillate? At the time that they picked off the old SW stock, aged bourbon wasn't in great demand so prices should have been relatively low. Now that they have built their brand, I would guess that the cost of the BT distillate is much higher, hence the retail increase to maintain their margins.
Just thinking out loud, I guess.
My guess is that production has remained steady, but the demand by restaurants (and perhaps even an emphasis by the Van Winkles) has made a hard product almost extinct in the wild. Happens in the wine business all the time and is highly successful, if you can pull it off. See: Baby Saz. Good on them and keep your hands off my 4R.