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W.Va. Alcohol Commissioner Working To Increase High-End Bourbon Availability

Brown liquid pouring into a glass from a glass bottle.
The head of the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission is looking to bring more high-end whiskey to West Virginia
Александр Кузьмин/Adobe Stock

Fielding questions from the interim Post Audits Subcommittee Sunday, Alcohol Beverage Control Commissioner Fred Wooten said he will use the leverage he has as the incoming chairman of the National ABCA to bring more single barrel bottles of Blantons, Maker’s Mark and others to state retailers. 

“We’re a small state and we get small allocations, but I’m gonna try to use my role to bring more of that product to this state,” Wooten said. “I assume spiritual responsibility here. I’m a bourbon drinker.”

Wooten said his team is now bringing back barrels of high-end bourbon from Kentucky, labeling some bottles with West Virginia codes for a contest, and awarding winners the empty bourbon barrels. 

“We have two area codes in the state of West Virginia, 304 or 681,” he said. “We hand numbered each one of those bottles there. If you got bottle 304 or 681, we awarded you the barrel.” 

Wooten said 15 years ago, you could buy the rare Pappy Van Winkle bourbon from the bargain bin at Rite Aid. Now, he’s working to make Pappy available statewide. 

“We want to send it from Mullins to Moundsville, from Huntington to Hedgesville, so that everybody in the state at least gets a shot at buying that product,” Wooten said. “There’s such a cult following that with Pappy Van Winkle. It’s like finding a unicorn.”   

Wooten said the barrel giveaways have also featured the WhistlePig, Elijah Craig and Yellowstone brands.