Most of us will never get our hands on a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, let alone taste it. The distillery only produces about 8,000 barrels a year, and states hold lotteries for distribution to businesses and individuals. If you’re lucky enough to try some, drink it neat. Don’t even dare use it to make a cocktail or have it on the rocks. Nevertheless, one bar owner is sick of the grandeur surrounding Pappy Van Winkle, and is trying to send a message. Jeremy Johnson, owner of a bar called Meta in Kentucky, opted to make Jell-O shots using Pappy Van Winkle.
This isn’t the first time Johnson has made Jell-O shots using Pappy. He made the first batch in 2014, and then two more in 2015 and 2016. Bourbon aficionados are likely apoplectic over what they see as an abomination. Not only has Johnson stoked the ire of whiskey enthusiasts, he may have upset parent company Sazerac enough to be barred from ever receiving Pappy Van Winkle again. According to Sazerac, distributors determine what to do with their allotments of Pappy.
Johnson has been receiving fewer and fewer bottles since 2014, and this year he hasn’t received any. “I didn’t hear anything directly from Sazerac, but I know I pissed them off,” Johnson told Munchies. “I knew this was going to be controversial when I did it. I didn’t know we would get all the press we did–I thought maybe someone local would write about it.”
Whether Johnson has been banned indefinitely from purchasing Pappy Van Winkle is unclear. What is clear is that if you want to make a sardonic statement about the allure and rarity of Pappy Van Winkle by desecrating it, you may pay a high price.