Pappy Van Winkle is a rare bird in the world of bourbon. An article in today's Washington Post discusses its popularity among bourbon aficionados (click here to read the article). Even if you're not a bourbon fan, the article does show how the law of supply and demand is everywhere.
Have I been fortunate enough to sample one of the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons? Yes. I recently had a small amount of the 20 year old at a bourbon tasting. It took some low intensity jostling to get to the bourbon, which ran out in minutes. Is it good? Yes. Is it worth the hype? No. (I realize that this declaration may mark me as a heretic in the eyes of many bourbon lovers). If I'm going to spend $40-50 on good bourbon, I will get more value from a bottle of Willett Pot Still Reserve than a shot of Pappy Van Winkle. If you have the opportunity to try Pappy Van Winkle (it will be better if you get someone else to pay for it) you should. Just don't expect bourbon nirvana.