May’s Best Reads on Drinks and Drinking

Welcome to The PUNCHbowl, a monthly installment where we share our favorite long reads on all things drinks and nightlife. This month: Debunking the trope of the wine-drinking woman, diving deeper into Pappygate, remembering Merle Haggard and more.

In October 2013, 200 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon were reported missing from the distillery and the ensuing scandal (known as Pappygate) widely covered in the press, spiking demand for the already highly coveted spirit. Todd South follows a dedicated team of detectives in pursuit of the missing booze, valued at $50,000, and reveals a sprawling network of bourbon trafficking across six Kentucky counties and over state lines. [Narratively]

In an attempt to engage millennial consumers, liquor brands have moved beyond traditional marketing techniques, opting instead to create highly exclusive, social experiences—private chateau tours and bakeries that double as Riviera beach clubs, among them. The New York Times takes a closer look at liquor’s new age of advertising. [The New York Times]

A few weeks after the death of Merle Haggard, Alex Halberstadt visits the George Dickel distillery in Cascade Hollow, Tennessee, for which the country singer was once a spokesman. Immersed in a private tour of the now-defunct distillery and neglected Haggard memorabilia, Halberstadt reminisces about Haggard’s life over a glass of Dickel whiskey. [Lucky Peach]

Despite being common practice among growers and winemakers in parts of Italy, Spain and France, dry farming—a method that bypasses artificial irrigation methods—has been slow to catch on in the U.S. The Guardian talks with proponents of the practice and considers the challenges facing them as they swim upstream in an industry that oftentimes favors yield over quality. [The Guardian]

For women portrayed on TV, wine has become a visual cue signifying a uniquely feminine form of stress; the internal drama of the female protagonist can be easily charted by the fullness of her wine glass, whether it’s sipped or swigged or drunk in company or alone. The Atlantic investigates the implications of this standardized trope. [The Atlantic]

With the craft beer movement ever on the rise, bakers and brewers are increasingly in competition for quality grain. In Eater, Melissa McCart asks whether the interest in craft distilling is holding back the rise of a third-wave bread. [Eater]

Troy Casey’s approach to brewing is more akin to winemaking; rather than focus on the actual brewing of wort, Casey concentrates on fermentation, aging and blending, closely monitoring the characteristics of each barrel before selecting a choice blend. Aaron Goldfarb reports on this novel approach to brewing that’s winning over the beer world. [Serious Eats]

Alcohol often played the role of protagonist in the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. While most days began with a cup of black coffee, it was often followed by Pernod and a host of other spirits, continuing well past sundown. Vanity Fair reveals the booze-fueled inspiration behind Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. [Vanity Fair]

Relatively unknown in the U.S. a decade ago, aperitif wines have found their way into cocktails and are now, increasingly, enjoyed on their own. In Imbibe, Paul Clarke traces the aperitif’s sudden rise to stardom. [Imbibe]