Pappy Van Winkle: Reward Offered for Stolen High-Value Bourbon

Tuesday, 03 Dec 2013 03:05 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Following the theft of thousands of dollars of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in October, Kentucky law enforcement officials on Monday announced a $10,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said an anonymous donor is offering $9,000 while the rest of the reward is coming from the Bluegrass Crime Stoppers fund.

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"We’re just trying to bring Pappy home," Melton told reporters during a news conference, The State Journal reported.

About $26,000 of the precious Pappy Van Winkle bourbon was taken from a secured area of the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort roughly the second week in October.

The theft included 65 cases of the stock – three bottle cases of the 20-year-old Pappy and nine cases of the 13-year-old Van Winkle Reserve rye.

The bourbon is some of the most exclusive and sought-after in the country, with some willing to pay as much as $5,000 a bottle for the barrel-aged drink.

Pappy's distillers crank out from 7,000 to 8,000 cases each year, 12 bottles to the case, making the bourbon a rarer commodity.

"The Kentucky bourbon ... is by all accounts one of the most sought-after bottles of booze on earth," the Wall Street Journal's Tom Gara said in July. "Why is there so little supply of a bourbon so delicious people put themselves on a 500 person waiting list for one of 20 bottles available each year at their local supplier? Because it's aged for between 10 and 23 years, meaning the amount of Pappy on the market today is a reflection of the business outlook the company was facing in the 1990s."

Melton told The State Journal that authorities originally thought the theft was in inside job and interviewed about 100 employees at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, but so far no persons of interest have been named.

"Detectives have worked diligently on this case," Melton told reporters Monday. "I think $10,000 with Christmas in about three weeks is very, very significant."

The State Journal wrote that Bardstown High School Principal Chris Pickett was recently cleared as a person of interest after he offered to sell a store manager a large quantity of Pappy Van Winkle. Pickett’s attorney, Doug Hubbard, said his client has a private collection.

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