Bourbon ephemera from the early days makes for a great break from tastings. (photo courtesy of the Frazier History Museum)

The mere mention of Pappy Van Winkle elicits immediate reverence and respect in savvy bourbon circles, and these elusive bottles remain some of the most coveted on the market.

A new exhibit at Louisville’s Frazier History Museum details the life and legacy of the bourbon baron through family heirlooms, artifacts, personal items and photographs, alongside showy vintage decanters and a selection of rare bottles. Old Weller and Van Winkle whiskey labels form a custom wallpaper backdrop for the display.

Born in Danville, Kentucky in 1874, Julian Proctor “Pappy” Van Winkle co-founded the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in 1935, built on an uncompromising dedication to high quality. With a mash bill that relied on wheat instead of the more commonly used rye, the operation quickly amassed a loyal fan following for its smooth-drinking product.

Today, family descendants Julian Van Winkle III and his son, Preston, oversee the Van Winkle brand as part of the Buffalo Trace family.

“Pappy Van Winkle: The Van Winkle Family Collection” is on display now through July 2021 at the Frazier Museum on Louisville’s Museum Row.