Saturday, December 3, 2016

Pappy Van Winkle and Rare Bourbon Raffle

Yes, we have started the raffle.  Emails have been going out since Sunday.
Still will be at least two more days of names being drawn.  Sorry for the lack of updates, it is a very involved process and am falling behind on emails right now. 

Also decided as people have asked - next year the Pappy/Rare Bourbon will be based on purchases starting December 1, 2016 until it is released next year.  Should be right around 12 months worth.  I just wanted to have a starting place planned already.  So your current purchase will be counting towards next year's raffle.  
This is if we do it the same way.  The current method is not set in stone.  We will evaluate the whole process in January and see if we decide to tweak it or change it completely.   But if we stick with a similar process, December 1st, 2016 will be the start date.

Below is the list of Bourbon that will be in the raffle.  The raffle is for a chance to purchase one of these bottles.

  • Old Rip Van Winkle 10 Year Old (107 proof)
  • Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old Family Reserve
  • Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year Old Family Reserve
  • Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old Family Reserve
  • Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Year Old
  • Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 Year Old Lot B
  • Eagle Rare 17 Year Old
  • Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old
  • George T. Stagg Bourbon
  • Four Roses Limited Edition 2016 Small Batch Barrel Strength
  • Four Roses Elliott's Select Barrel Strength
  • Old Forester Birthday Bourbon
  • Parkers Heritage 24 Year Old Bourbon
  • Elijah Craig 18 Year Old
  • Elijah Craig Barrel Proof
  • Whistlepig 15 Year Rye
  • Rhetoric 22 Year Old Bourbon
  • Whoop and Holler 28 Year Old 
  • Yamazaki 18 Year Old
  • Woodford Reserve Brandy Cask Finish
  • The Balvenie Tun 1509 Batch #3
  • might be a few others also.

These two did not arrive yet, they will be raffled off later if they do show up.
  • Thomas H. Handy Rye Whiskey
  • William Larue Weller
This is the plan -- subject to change.  
We will start to draw names as soon as possible after the December 10th deadline.    
For ease of explaining, lets pick an easy number like 100.  Say we have 100 bottles of whiskey total from the list, we will divide by 5, which is 20, of course.  We will send emails out to the first 20 names picked on the first day (we will also call people if they do not respond to the email in a timely fashion, we will do our best to make sure you know you have an allocation). They will email me back a list of their top 10 choices from the list.  We will start with the first name drawn in the raffle and they can buy the highest whiskey on their list that is still available.  We will go to the next person and do the same.  They will have 1 day to respond.  The next day we will email the next 20 and do the same thing with what is left.  If you were picked on the first day, but did not respond until the second day or third day, you will still get your allocation, but you risk some of your top choices not being available anymore.   If you do not respond before the end of the fifth day and the last names are drawn, you will lose your allocation and we will draw more names.  I will put more details (deadlines and times) in the individual emails if your name is drawn.  Again, many of these are very rare and odds are not great.   Please do not email or call each day to see if your name was drawn.  We will not have time to take all of these inquiries.  We will do our best to get a hold of people.  If somebody does not respond to emails and phone calls, I will even post on the blog their first name and last initial that we are trying to track you down.    Each day, I will confirm on our blog if everybody has checked in for their allocation.   That is it for now....and Thank you for your loyal support.

Previously asked questions....

Important reminder:  Always give your phone number at the register, every time you check out.

How do I get Pappy Van Winkle?
The only way to get Pappy Van Winkle is through our Whiskey Reward Club.  This year's release will be based on 6 months purchases since we just started the WRC, but next year (starting with 2017) it will be based on a full 12 months of purchases.   As you may know, many people come out of the woodwork this time of year just looking for Pappy, but we want to reward people that have supported us all year long.

How do I get other rare whiskey?  
Through our WRC + random bottles will appear on the shelf without notice + through our WRC Pop up program (see more info below).  The Pappy Van Winkle Raffle will include other limited releases that come in between now and the raffle too.

I signed up for the WRC, but I have not received any emails about rare bottles of Whiskey?
Now that we have been using the WRC for about 6 months, we do not send out offerings to the whole list, only people whose name was drawn in the weighted raffle get emails informing them that they received a bottle.   More info on the weighted raffle below.

How does the weighted raffle work?
How much do I have to spend?
Having accumulated enough data over the past 6 months, we have decided that for every 300 dollars you spend over the course of the 6 months prior to a release (an average $50 per month) you will get one raffle ticket in the lottery.   If you spend $800 we will divide by $300 and round (800/300= 2.67, so you would get 3 tickets in the weighted raffle).  Before we were doing the top 100, 200 or top 300 people.  From here on out we will count $300 purchases as a lottery ticket.   That way people will not be in the dark on where they stand.  You do not have to worry if you are at the top of the list, if you spend more than $300 over the course of the last 6 months, you are in the raffle for the current release.  We still take half of our allocation and that goes to the top of the list of WRC and the rest is used for the weighted raffle.

Can I retro my previous sales if I just signed up?
No, sorry there is no fair way to do this.  We have been advertising on our blog, emails, twitter, facebook for 8 months about the WRC to sign up and telling people that this is how rare releases will be sold.

What are my chances on rare bottles of whiskey?
We do not want to give false hopes.  Many releases we get 6 bottles or less, the odds still are not great.   We have around 1,000 people in our WRC program now.   This is why we started the WRC, how do you decide who gets these 6 bottles of rare whiskey out of thousands of customers at all of our locations.    We are just trying to be as fair as possible.

WHISKEY REWARD CLUB INFO: - click here to sign up

This will be the only way to receive Pappy Van Winkle, the Orphan Barrels, Four Roses Limited Releases, Buffalo Trace Experimental, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Laphroaig limited releases, Balvenie Tun, limited Japanese Whiskey, and so on with other rare whiskeys.

Your phone number without the area code will be your account number. After you sign up, you must give your phone number without the area code (or last name) every time you check out at any of our stores. Your name will appear on your receipt at the bottom. If your name is not on the receipt you are not getting credit for the purchase. Tell the checker immediately if your name is not on your receipt (or the wrong name is on your receipt)

Here is how we will allocate Whiskey
We base the allocation on the previous 6 months sales at the time of the release. We feel 6 months is a good amount of time to reward regular customers. We also feel that is a good amount of time to let new people sign up and eventually get in on the allocations.   The goal of the program is to reward people that shop at the store on a regular basis.   We can obviously sell Pappy Van Winkle 1000 times over, but we want to get them in the hands of our regular customers.  Without our regulars, we would not be able to get these bourbons.  There is no fair way to decide on these, we feel this is the best.

Release of bottles will be based on your total purchases: wine, liquor, beer, cheese, nuts...everything in the store.
The releases will still be a raffle method. But it will be a weighted raffle. The more you spend the better chance you will have as you will get more raffle tickets for each release.  We take half of our allocation and that goes to the top of the list and the other half we use a weighted raffle.   Now that we have received enough data, we have decided that over the course of 6 months, for every $300 dollars you will get a ticket in the lottery (spending $50 per month).  If you spend $600, you will get 2 tickets and so on.

Another way to get bourbons if you join

We will still put random rare whiskey out on the shelf for shoppers to find as we do now.
New feature: Our new POS system allows us to randomly select a Reward member -- when you check out, a message will pop up on our screen saying something like "you have been allocated a bottle of Rare Whiskey from our Rare Whiskey shelf". Again, as a way of rewarding people for shopping in the store. This will be totally random and we will not know until you actually go to purchase something and this note will pop up. This has been very successful in our Beer Reward Club. You will only be allowed to win once every 6 months, then it will reset again.

More important information:
We will post updates when whiskey is coming and when allocation emails have been sent.
You will get an email if you get an allocated whiskey, you have 7 days to pick up or we will draw another name.
There is no fee to sign up, it is free to join.
VERY IMPORTANT: After you sign up, make sure you give your phone number each time you check out. This is how your purchases will be tracked. Sometimes when it gets busy the checker might forget ask you. Just tell them when you are checking out that you are a member of the one of our reward clubs. You do not need to mention if it is beer or whiskey. Plus, we will have some holiday help that will be working at the register that might not ask as they will be part time and new. Your name should appear on your receipt, if it does not, tell the checker immediately because that means your purchases are not being tracked. 

You can join if you shop our online store also.
You can be a member of both of our reward clubs. Beer Reward Club and Whiskey Reward Club - you can "order" free memberships to both online
Guidelines are subject to change. We will evolve the system to make it better based on customer comments and how the first releases work. We have been evolving the Beer Reward Club over the past few years and it seems to be getting better and better. We will always give notice when we adjust the guidelines.


Anonymous said...

I got another question. You base spending off the last 6 months. Why don't you base it off the last year? Or since the last raffle?
Guys know and wait. I'm a regular customer but haven't bought anything I'm a month and by the time of the raffle it will be 2.
I have spent thousands in the year though. So a guy that comes in at the last minute has a better chance then so off us who stay loyal all year. I know I'm black listed and that's another story. But they know that I've spent lots of money ( I'm not a lawyer or Doctor) and when it's busy I've prob sold a few cases of stuff to people looking for advice. I know you say it's hard work.
Keep the btac/pappy for the heavy hitters. Man Paul save something beside a bottle of special reserve for my type. Maybe have a big spender club and a regular spender club. I've had to stop shopping with you guys. I come in look around and leave. I would usually spend 500 a month. If this isn't the platform let me know. I'm speaking for not just me cause I was able to get 5 or 6 of the bottles and bought the woodford last night.

Paul Hayden said...

First question - you missed in the post about the 6 months. It will be a year for the next raffle. We only started the WRC about 6 months ago, so we do not have records before that.

"This year's release will be based on 6 months purchases since we just started the WRC, but next year (starting with 2017) it will be based on a full 12 months of purchases. As you may know, many people come out of the woodwork this time of year just looking for Pappy, but we want to reward people that have supported us all year long." - from the blog post above

I am not sure what you mean by Black Listed?

I always feel I am repeating myself. There is no perfect method, we are just trying to be fair. This is the fairest way we have come up with. If we get 6 bottles allocated to us for all 4 stores, how do we allocate that out. We cannot just put it on the shelf. That does not work anymore. I see people that walk in everyday, survey they shelves for limited beer and whiskey and walk out. There are some people that have the time to come in every day and check the shelves. Others do not. Everyone now knows when everything is released, you cannot put it on the shelf because there are a number of people that will run around town and collect from every store all the cherries. That does not help you or any of our customers. This is the only way to reward our customers. It is a weighted raffle, so you do not have to be at the top, you still have a chance if you spend $300 in the last 6 months.
I keep trying to give the example of if you have 3 items to give to your 20 friends that want it, how would you decide who gets those 3 items. It is impossible, no matter which method you come up with, 17 people will be upset. Only 3 will be happy with how you determined you should get it. We feel we have picked the fairest method.

Paul Hayden said...

We have built the relationships, but unfortunately again there are more great customers than great bourbons to go around. You enter that gray area where you have to choose who is your favorite--who is your favorite child. Then you end up with more upset people because you did not give them a bottle and it was our choice to pick who deserved it. Ours is more black and white, which sounds harsh, but it is a reality. We like all of our customers and appreciate every penny they shop with us, but if it was up to us to say you are not good enough to get a bottle, that is a difficult thing to do. We need some sort of system and we have that system. Again having 4 stores complicates that, each employee at each store will have their favorite customers and feel they deserve the bottles. There is no way to decide how much each store gets.
Like I mentioned before, we do put surprise bottles out periodically, but we found that there are a number of people will come in each day looking for them and the system did not seem fair anymore, so we did slow that down. We still do the pop up, if you purchase something your name might pop up and you can pick a bottle off our rare release shelf. That way it is more controlled so that the same person does not keep getting the bottles.

The same people can get it each year, but the list does fluctuate as people spend differently at different times. Each person that spends at least $300 gets into the raffle, so different people can win each time.
I would have no reason to black list anybody for comments and questions. Plus have no way of knowing who you. We take each constructive comment seriously and will continue to evolve the system to be better.

m unterschutz said...

I'm just happy to be considered for a shot at a release. Thanks for making them available to the public!

John Pearson said...

Thanks Paul for all that you do. I know it's hard and I absolutely appreciate the process you all have at TWCP. I think the transparency is what I appreciate the most. While I certainly miss out on things because I'm not at the top of the list, I understand why I'm missing out. With the WRC, the weighted raffle is great and gives me a shot that I don't have anywhere else.

One question about the weighted raffle, if your name is picked once but you have multiple entries, can you be selected again? I know, crazy to think but just curious more than anything.

Thank again!

Paul Hayden said...

Your name can only be picked once, thanks very much

Marc DeSantis said...

Did the raffle begin yesterday? Up top you said that you'd be posting nightly updates, and I was curious if that was still the plan.

Brad L said...

Just a note of thanks, Paul.

You provide the fairest way to get these rare bottles to those of us that don't have that "buddies with a shop/bar owner" connection.

And, you don't gouge your customers if they do get the opportunity to buy as well. The odds get lower with more people interested and less allocations every year, but it's still fun getting an actual opportunity to luck out on a bottle of something. Stay classy!


Paul Hayden said...

Thank you for the kind comments. We appreciate it and hope to keep improving the system the best we can.