Kentucky priest Father Jim Sichko’s packing list for a recent trip included one of his home state’s most sacred relics: a coveted bottle of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.
According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Fr. Sichko traveled to the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis alongside hundreds his fellow papal Missionaries of Mercy. He brought around 10 bottles of Kentucky spirits, including Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek, Four Roses, and more Van Winkle, in case you weren’t already feeling pretty damn envious of the Pontifex and his retinue.
Sichko, who told the Herald-Leader that he’s never tried Pappy Van Winkle and was unaware that a bottle can set you back hundreds of dollars, took a great deal of care in packing his haul:
He wrapped the bottles in bubble wrap and labeled them by volume and proof, carefully allotting between his two suitcases.
“And then I put the rules on top of them. So whoever was opening the suitcase to inspect could see that we knew what we were talking about,” he said.
The head of Vatican security (who also got a bottle) helped Sichko get through, well, Vatican security with his bounty, and a front-row seat for the audience with the Pope ensured that Sichko got to hand over the Pappy in person. Reportedly, Pope Francis responded to the gift by saying “very good bourbon.” Please forgive the expression, but good god, is that an understatement.
Amazingly, this is not the only piece of ace bourbon reporting from the Herald-Leader this week—apparently, newly-minted Boston Marathon winner Desi Linden is also an aficionado of the spirit. We at The Takeout hereby submit that the Pulitzer committee should add a category for bourbon reporting and retroactively award it to the Lexington paper. They really know their stuff.
This article originally stated that Vatican security helped Father Sichko get through airport security. It has been updated to reflect that they helped him get through Vatican security. Thanks for the correction, Father Sichko!