Happy Birthday Pappy

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Springtime Celebrations: Happy 150th Birthday Pappy...and more!

Springtime is generally recognized as a time of celebration. We awaken after a long winter, as flowers bloom to meet the warming sun and the world is alive with the sounds of birds chirping. Themes of renewal and rebirth are prevalent and there is a unique sense of camaraderie and excitement as we are propelled towards warmer weather and longer days. 

 Of course, springtime in Kentucky is synonymous with another celebration. One that really has a life of its own, a sentiment of its own, a celebration-  monthslong – of its own, and a one word that sums up all of the excitement, the planning, the pomp, the pageantry. We are talking about Derby, of course. 

The Kentucky Derby is uniquely positioned to represent both an entire state’s legacy and global recognition, as well as  This year marks an incredible event - it is the 150th running of The Kentucky Derby. Set to be celebrated on May 4th, 2024 at Churchill Downs, this is an incredible celebration of a monumental legacy.  

For us, Derby Day somehow holds even more meaning - both historically and personally. As Derby Day isn’t just the day this race burst onto the stage of global recognition, claiming its rightful place alongside national and worldwide sporting events and known equally for the athletic endeavors as well as the glamour, the glitz and the absolute pageantry of the surrounding events and attendees. Derby Day in 1935 was also the very day that another Kentucky legend was born. On May 4th, 1935, just as Omaha, ridden by Willie Saunders, won the iconic Run for the Roses, Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle opened the doors to Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Shirley, Kentucky.  

 While the events in the next 89 years likely weren’t factored into his decision, the convergence of these two events on this incredibly special day is one we are more than proud to celebrate. The Kentucky Derby isn’t the only legend celebrating 150 years this year, as confluence or serendipity or just plain Kentucky born magic would have it, this spring also marks Pappy’s 150th birthday as well. You just can’t make this kind of thing up!  Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle, senior, was born on March 22, 1874 in Danville, Kentucky. At age 18, he began his career, and thus what is arguably one of the most iconic legacies, as a traveling whiskey salesman. Traveling by horse and buggy to sell Weller to taverns, saloons and retailers throughout Kentucky and Indiana. His determined spirit and humble beginnings would stay with him throughout the rest of his career, where at age 91, he was the oldest active distiller in the nation. It is his original work ethic, dedication and promise of quality that remains his most important legacy of all. 

While on the topic of celebrating birthdays in springtime, it just so happens to be that we celebrate another birthday in spring - ours - and while we aren’t ones to bring extra attention to ourselves, we can’t help feeling like convergence of the 150th Kentucky Derby AND the 150th Birthday of Pappy, oh and it is the year we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Pappy & Company…just happens to be worth a little fanfare this year! So to properly celebrate all of springtime’s many special occasions, let’s honor the concurrent themes of these springtime occasions that just so happen to align with the pillars that we built Pappy & Company upon:History, Legacy, Tradition, Entertaining, Sustainability. Craftsmanship.  


History. Legacy. Heritage. 


While these words have come to define who we are and what we stand for and the basic they really all begin with one word. Bourbon. Bourbon has come to define Kentucky in many of the same ways that Derby does, and if you ask anyone who has ever enjoyed a Mint Julep on Derby Day…you also simply can’t have one, without the other.  

More so than bourbon itself, it is how our great grandfather approached his business that is the foundation of what we consider our generational legacy. Maintaining his original promise, “we make fine bourbon at a profit, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon" can’t have been an easy one. Especially in a changing world where profit usually outweighs any other factor. We grew up with such a strong understanding of what that meant, and appreciating the importance and meaning of such words. 

We watched as our dad worked to rebuild the distillery with a single minded dedication.  We are beyond proud to inherit and carry on the legacy Pappy introduced. We are inspired by his commitment to quality, his devotion to his family and his desire to build an equitable and sustainable business that never wavered from his original commitment to quality.

Learn more about our Mission and Values


Entertaining is a true art form. One that we feel is also wrapped up in the legacy we have proudly inherited. While a word that may conjure up some old fashioned rhetoric or ladies who lunch and ladies who host, we think it is a far weightier term that deserves its place alongside our constant mottos of tradition, legacy, and history.   In simple terms entertaining is celebrating, and honoring traditions while making your own. So while the concept of entertaining often feels like an unattainable lifestyle paraded around, for us it really begins with the simplicity of gathering. 

Gathering with friends and family, just for the sake of gathering, or for any special occasion - everyday or otherwise. It’s a no pressure, no frills opportunity to be together. Whether it’s a casual Sunday evening around chili or a summer walkabout in Michigan (learn more about that family tradition here) but we honestly enjoy any excuse to gather and celebrate - and most of what we have created through Pappy & Company are products designed to make entertaining easier, more joyful and less stressful.  

For starters, food and drinks are important and flavor is at the heart of that. Whipping together something incredibly detailed is actually fun, but oftentimes we go with the “use what you have approach” and often throw together a mix of easy appetizers and delicious cocktails. That theme applies to decor and setting. A handful of herbs or flowers from the garden can both be ingredients in a last minute appetizer, or tossed in a mint julep glass as a centerpiece.  Mix old and new. Don’t be afraid to set out your grandmother’s china with plastic cutlery. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to use what you have. Wedding china that never sees the light of day? A treasured antique picked up on your travels? A chipped, but beloved, piece of your grandmother’s pottery? Bring it out, toss some fresh flowers in there and just enjoy being together.  


At the heart of everything that we do is the thread that ties us all together: family traditions. They are woven into the decisions that we make, into the goal of family and work life balance that we strive to attain everyday, and are at the core of every product we make and every partnership we embark on. They are our most treasured family heirlooms. 

From the original promise of commitment and quality, to our holiday recipes - these are time honored traditions that we feel honored to uphold and share with our own children, as well as add to over time. These are the traditions that led us to create modern versions of actual family heirlooms in our Everyday Heirlooms collection or to craft a beloved recipe using our Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup. Syrup that we made with our partner, Bissell Family Farms, who themselves have continued their family tradition of farming and making pure maple syrup since the 1800’s.  


While this one has become a bit of a buzz word of late, for us it has always been a part of our overall mission. Since we were young we understood the value of using what you had, just as we do for entertaining, and finding creative ways to repurpose things. We’ve always watched in awe as our mom, our grandmother, and our aunts could make something out of nothing. From foraging in the fridge, where others would see empty shelves and they found inspiration to create, or pulling together a gorgeous arrangement from flowers in the yard and tossing it into an old pitcher. 

 Making old things new again and finding creative ways to reuse all manner of things, wasn’t just what we did, it was an exciting and creative challenge. In fact, Chenault herself has made this the cornerstone of her own design career where she will rediscover forgotten treasures, encourage the playful mix of new and old family pieces and add interesting elements to her design projects that always result in livable, charming and entirely personal rooms and homes for modern life.  

So this idea of sustainable repurposing has been at the heart of Pappy & Company since day one when we asked: how can we find new ways to share our family’s bourbon legacy?   Learn more  So it began, naturally, in the same place that the bourbon does. With the barrel. 

Our core collections are all about celebrating and honoring the legacy set forth by Pappy Van Winkle himself. Our gourmet collection features the iconic flavors, infused into chocolate treats, into pure maple syrup, hot sauce and cocktail mixers. The signature Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrel aged flavor notes of caramel, charred oak, and vanilla  are a perfect complement to the culinary offerings and have given us an opportunity to craft delightful recipes, inspired by many we grew up with, using these creative and hand crafted flavors. Find some of our favorite recipes here.

Our signature line of cigars are hand selected to accompany and reflect the Pappy Van winkle flavor, while our Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Fermented collection are hand made using Kentucky fire cured tobacco that has itself been aged in the retired Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels  for a perfect combination of flavor notes.  

  Perhaps though, it is our made from barrels collection that has invited us to fully explore how to repurpose the retired Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels once they’ve completed their integral role in aging the bourbon. From our authentic Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Heads, lovingly restored and crafted to become the ultimate collectors’ items (learn more about this unique process here) to our line of unique accessories, home wares, bar accessories, and more that are crafted using the Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel Staves. 

In this way, we are not only repurposing the barrels, that by virtue of makes a bourbon a bourbon, can't be reused again in the art of bourbon distilling - but we are finding unique and creative ways to give our legacy a new life. One, more importantly, that we can share with you and therefore find new ways to enjoy it together and maybe, even create new traditions.