The Pappygate

'Wine' Roland Mucciarelli
7 min readMar 5, 2023

In Frankfort, Kentuky, everyone knows each other, 25,000 people who live in the seat of Franklin County and state’s capital. Despite what you may think, the name doesn’t come from the most famous German city. The town founded in 1786 and had its name from a pioneer killed by Native Americans. The young man, Stephen Frank, was fatally shot as he crossed the ford of the Kentucky River so to the pioneer settlement was given the name of Frank’s ford, which later became Frankfort.

Kentucky is famous for its production of Bourbon; Kentucky bourbon is said to be the best of all thanks to the properties of its water from the near river.

In Frankfort there is the oldest whisky’s (or whiskey?, better: bourbon) distillery in the United States, what is now known as Buffalo Trace Distillery, born in the first half of the 1800s, although over the years it had changed its name several times. The original distillery was built by Julian Pappy Van Winkle.

I don’t know how the life in Frankfurt is, but I imagine it like a classic provincial town, there’s a library and a university. A calm city, where the Bluegrass is the main music, as whole Kentucky is.
One of the most popular game is softball, a good local league team that whole population cheers on; at that time, early 2000’s, most of the team worked at one of the two distilleries in the city, Buffalo Trace or Wild Turkey.
Among the most famous players was Toby Curtsinger, and of course he also worked at Buffalo Trace.

Before 2008 a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon were sold for around $130 for 20-year-old and 250 for 23-year. Then that year, the Beverage Tasting Institute gave Pappy Van Winkle a 99/100, and prices skyrocketed. The bourbon was still the same, of course, but the premium received pushed the cost of the 2008 bottles to over $1,000 until the actual $4,000–5,000. It was, and is again now, the most famous bourbon brand.
Working at the distillery, Toby occasionally got away a bottle or two to celebrate a win with the rest of the softball team, all childhood friends, having known each other since they were just kids in shorts. Nothing wrong, let’s say, a bottle on a…



'Wine' Roland Mucciarelli

Blogger+Podcaster about wine and technology driving Wine Business at the next level