Matthew Landan, owner of the Haymarket Whiskey Bar. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Whether you’re a high roller headed in to town for the Kentucky Derby or a local who hits a longshot at the track this week, the Haymarket Whiskey Bar owner Matthew Landan has a delicious idea for spending your dough on some of the world’s rarest bourbon.

“We’re putting together the mother of all bourbon packages, the ultimate Pappy Derby experience,” said Landan. “We wanted to do something that was so decadent, so exclusive, that only people flying in private jets would be interested. Or people who might win the race might.”

Here’s what’s on offer: All or some part of seven bottles of Van Winkle bourbon, multiple Buffalo Trace products, multiple beers, cigars, Haymarket swag and unlimited pinball.

The least expensive package costs $5,000 and is for four people: Everyone in the group gets 1 ounce each of Old Rip Van Winkle 25 year, Pappy Van Winkle 23 year, Pappy Van Winkle 20 year, Pappy Van Winkle 15 year, Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Whiskey 13 year, Van Winkle Special Reserve Lot B 12 year, and the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year. The foursome then splits a 16-ounce bottle of the rare Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, be given “chaser beers” throughout the evening to enjoy between whiskey tastes, cigars and unlimited games in the bar. To take home on the free Uber ride, the foursome will get Haymarket swag along with a whiskey four pack (to divide among them) of Blanton’s, Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace and Sazerac Rye. Three total $5,000 packages are offered.

The empty versions of this etched crystal Old Rip Van Winkle bottle will likely sell for low four figures some day. |Photo by Steve Coomes
The empty versions of this etched crystal Old Rip Van Winkle bottle will likely sell for low four figures some day. |Photo by Steve Coomes

The most expensive package is a $25,000 drinker-take-all option including: sealed full bottles of all seven Van Winkle whiskeys, three bottles of the Bourbon County Stout, a full case of beer of their choice from the bar, 16 bottles of the aforementioned Buffalo Trace Distillery whiskies, cigars and Haymarket swag.

“Of course, if you just come and pick it up, you don’t get to play free pinball,” Landan joked. “But we’d certainly offer a raincheck for that.”

When Landan received his bottle of 25-year Old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon, he admitted he didn’t know what to do with it. The thought that he, the owner of a relatively small bar, now possessed what’s arguably the most coveted bottle of American whiskey offered this year, left the wild-haired, loquacious Landon literally speechless.

He couldn’t shake the thought of owning a bottle of such rarity: only 710 made, all of which are poured into one-of-a-kind etched crystal decanters housed in padded wood boxes made from the 11 barrels that bore the whiskey for 25 years. He knew for certain he couldn’t pour such whiskey out by the shot.

“You’d have to ask for something ridiculous, something like a thousand dollars a pour,” Landan said. “And since that would sell so slowly, the whiskey would be exposed to a lot of air which would change it.”

Admitting it sounded a bit cliché, the idea for the Kentucky Derby doozy of a drink offer “hit me like a bolt of lightning,” he said. “I wanted to come up with something in the bourbon world that would be as big as the Derby is in the horse racing world.”

To buy the lot or reserve a $5,000 share for your party, email haymarketwhiskeybar@haymarketwhiskeybar.com or call 502-345-4749. Landan warned that if a $5,000 customer makes a reservation, but someone steps in to buy the $25,000 lot, then Mr. or Ms. Big Bucks wins. To make it up to any groups who get bumped by the $25,000 buyer, Landan will buy them flights of his private barrel whiskeys.

And what will happen to that precious whiskey if the packages don’t sell?

“We’ll save the (25 year) bottle for a charity event and pour it out that way,” Landan said. Though he declined to share the price he paid his wholesaler for it, he said the cost was affordable given the impact it’ll make either on Haymarket’s sales or as a charity donation. “That bottle is something so cool that you want to see others enjoy it, too.”

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