A new book, “Bourbon Empire,” by Reid Mitenbuler, explains that aficionados’ love for particular brands of bourbon in fact has more to do with savvy marketing by distillers than any particularly unique recipe. Most distillers use only one recipe, or mash bill—Buffalo Trace primarily uses two. (Four Roses famously uses ten, though these are mix-and-match variations of two mash bills and five strains of yeast, for fermentation.) The variations in taste have, in other words, more to do with age and the environmental conditions of the location where the barrels are stored, than any of the marketing hype or hand-crafted nonsense you hear about bourbons these days. As distillers have gotten better at understanding these conditions, they learned to pick barrels that have certain taste profiles, and reserve them for certain brands–and certain price points.

So, what’s the problem with Marc’s drink? Before scarcity set off the whiskey-hoarding panic of recent years, Weller 12 was designed to be an every-day, accessibly-priced pour. Better than the bottom-shelf, but not a whiskey unicorn. That status was reserved for its cousin, Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Lot B. Yes–Lot B is part of the Pappy Van Winkle family–of recent fame for sky high prices, and a massive, since solved, theft straight from distillery in Kentucky. (But, don’t call the Lot B, “Pappy,” which is what the 15, 20, and 23 year-old expressions go by, unless you want to incur the ire of any nearby bourbon nerds.) The Van Winkles have always been scarce, and as their reputations have grown, liquor store owners have taken to pushing high-priced Weller 12 on unsuspecting consumers as “almost Pappy,” exacerbating the shortage of the once-humble Weller 12, with its plastic screw-top cap.

Indeed, the connection between Weller and Van Winkle is the first secret knowledge that most bourbon-nerds learn, and Marc knows about this lineage, too:

(It’s 2nd semester coursework to learn that Van Winkle was once made at an entirely different distillery, but too much for our purposes here.)

When even the man who invented the struts of modern internet computing is passing up the high-end Van Winkle (and its $500 or more price tag) for the working man’s Weller 12, what chance do the rest of us stand? All we can do is wait and hope that Sazerac, parent company of Buffalo Trace, is really laying down enough barrels to satisfy demand, which only seems to grow.

That said, anticipated future demand does often fuel supply, so if the tweets of the world’s most famous, living, venture capitalist help convince the folks at Buffalo Trace to make more, I’m all for it. Maybe this story will help, too. While we’re at it, I hope our friends at Heaven Hill are reading–Elijah Craig 12 year old is the latest bourbon that nerds are fearing will soon become impossible to find, at least as a true 12 year old drink.

Surely any young founders who find their way into Marc’s A16Z boardroom should bring him a bottle of Weller 12, or at least sneak in a flask. What better way to celebrate a funding round, than with a round? Cheers, Marc!

Then again, about that drink…

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