Getting your hands on Kentucky’s rarest bourbons takes serious time, money, and a solid network of insiders—or a ticket to Taste of the Decades on Thursday at the Tousey House Tavern in Burlington, Kentucky. Brad Wainscott, the managing partner of the restaurant, which is set inside an 1822 Federal-style home, leveraged his industry connections to round up some of the best (and oldest) bottles in the state.
“People call them dusties,” Wainscott says, “because they sit in the back of a closet until someone digs them out.”
Around platters of ham biscuits, deviled eggs, and fried chicken, you can sample vintage Four Roses, Buffalo Trace, and Van Winkle alongside a who’s who of the whiskey world—folks like the 2014 Garden & Gun Made in the South Awards winner Dixon Dedman, who crafts Kentucky Owl Straight Bourbon Whiskey in Harrodsburg, and the legend himself, Julian Van Winkle III.
For a price, a lucky (and generous—all proceeds benefit children’s cancer research) few will join Van Winkle in a private tasting room, where he will speak about some of the scarcest bottles on the planet before unsealing several. (Tickets to this portion of the event are sold out.) There might even be a 1984 Van Winkle Family Reserve, capped in red wax. “It was made in 1968 or ’70 by my dad, and I bottled it in 1984,” Van Winkle says, adding, “That one’s priceless.”