A Kentucky priest known for his boozy gifts to the Vatican is introducing a spirit of his own.
Father Jim Sichko is celebrating Pope Francis’ 10th anniversary by creating a special bourbon pick in his honor, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. The Lexington, Ky. priest selected a barrel of Willett Distillery bourbon from January 2013. Sichko says the first bottling of this bourbon, which landed at 66.3 percent ABV, will be given to Pope Francis on his next visit.
Sichko has visited Rome on multiple occasions in the spirit of sharing Kentucky culture with the Vatican: he gifted Pope Francis a bottle of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle in 2018, bottles signed by University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops, custom Nike sneakers, and several other coveted bourbon expressions over the years. Sichko is known locally and on social media for his random gifts and acts of kindness toward strangers nationwide. His generous nature has earned him the nickname “Father Jim of the Heavenly Buzzed,” bestowed upon him on an episode of “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” per the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Sichko also recently gifted another bottle from his selection to Shaquille O’Neal — the 34th, in honor of his former Los Angeles Lakers basketball number — accompanied by a pair of custom sneakers.
Some 125 bottles of the Pope Francis Anniversary Willett Bourbon are available at online auction and through a raffle, as well as at a Lexington liquor shop. Bids for the online auction, running April 10–15, begin at $1,000 and raffle tickets are available for $100 each. Proceeds from the bourbon will be donated to various causes including Sichko’s Papal Mission of Mercy. Willett Distillery will also retain a few bottles at its distillery bar.
This isn’t Sichko’s first commercial venture in the name of a good cause. He’s previously launched Miss Marie’s Spaghetti Sauce, a bottled version of his mother’s beloved recipe to raise money for his mission.