Pappy Van Winkle Wedding Burial

As I write this article, a bottle of Pappy Family Reserve 15 is bidding for $1,500.00 on Ebay. Last Saturday, my cousin Peter carried a bottle of the same Bourbon through Starved Rock State Park in a brown paper bag. He cradled the bottle like a bum whom panhandled enough for a ceremonial bottle of malt liquor. 

I followed my cousin and the Pappy on a day hike through the woods. The 15 year old Bourbon remained in the brown bag for the entire hike; there were no quick nips or even a cracking of the neck seal. Peter, his groomsmen and myself gave the bottle a funeral procession trough the state park before we partially honored the Southern tradition of burying a whisky bottle before a wedding. The tradition calls for burying a whiskey bottle exactly one month before the wedding to bring good fortune and beautiful weather on the day that the couple ties the knot. Unfortunately, we only had six hours, but it was 55º and sunny, so the effects of the Southern folklore were already playing in our favor. 

The ceremony commenced outside one of our cabins. All the men from the wedding party circled around my cousin as he committed an unlawful act of destroying state property. He clawed at the soil with a small garden hoe until making a suitable coffin for the bottle. He followed up his offense to the state with a more arguably absurd act of burying a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. (But why not carry-on tradition with one of the most sought after whiskeys in America.) Once the bottle was laid to rest, we marked the burial with a pinecone, threw on our tuxes, slicked back our hair and anticipated our return. 


After a couple pours of lesser grade whiskey, hearing an ‘I Do’ or two, we returned to send off the great whiskey in best fashion: in good company. Unshackled from his blazer, my cousin took a few swipes with the garden hoe before striking gold. All the most beloved men in Peter’s life stood around him and the bottle. As Peter dusted off the lingering pieces of dirt sticking to Julian Van Winkle’s face, he toasted us all:

“Guys, men, we have a bond together, and we appreciate each other. We take care of each other. No matter what you need, we’re there, right? So, we’re going to drink this together.”

jake hukee