BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Lines were out the door of an ABC liquor store at 9 a.m. on Monday. People were even camping out.
That was the scene at the ABC store on Hollywood Blvd. as hopeful bourbon enthusiasts waited to try to get their hands on a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle.
The store is one of eight ABC stores in the state, two in our area, that were given a supply of reserve bottles from the Van Winkle line, as well as the Antique Collection, and other Buffalo Trace products. That's why people started lining up last night. A small group camped outside the Hollywood store, cooking hot dogs and even holding a church service - complete with a pastor who was giving communion.
Others starting arriving as early as 2 a.m. One man, who was on site at 5 a.m., said waiting for an iPhone is more fun, but he still seemed to be enjoying himself. He was one of the lucky ones, walking away with one of the last 10-year bottles of Van Winkle.
This actually happens around the same time every year. Only 7,500 cases of Pappy Van Winkle are released.
"Every year it's chaos, every year there is a fight for alcohol," said Chris Groben from the Birmingham Bourbon Club.
Groben said this year seems to have gone a little bit more smoothly, with ABC representatives on-site giving out numbered tickets to fans to hold their place in line. A new rule was in place this year too, requiring buyers to prove they were an Alabama resident before purchase. According to a Buffalo Trace distributor and an ABC Board spokeswoman, that's because of trouble in the past with "bourbon flipping." A bottle of Van Winkle 15-year retails for $100, but can resell online for $600-$700. Only two bottles per person were allowed from the specialty shipment.
The first 100 people in line got a "golden ticket," which meant they were very likely to get one of the coveted bottles of either Van Winkle or from the antique collection. By the time ticket 54 was called at 10:30 a.m. - only an hour and a half after the store opened - and all the Pappy Van Winkle was gone.
"Experienced bourbon connoisseurs were there for the antique bottles because bourbon is a living creature. Changed by the seasons. Each bottle has a history to tell," said customer Sam.