Liquor store owner shocked man attempted to sell rare bourbon reported stolen

He thought it was a joke at first

By Kristina Belcher, Published:

The owner of a Hardin County liquor store said he thought it was a joke when his store’s manager called him Sunday and said a man had offered to sell them a large amount of Pappy Van Winkle — just days after the news broke that 204 bottles of the rare bourbon was stolen.

“I’m a little pessimistic,” said Eric Hall, owner of Packages & More Liquors in Elizabethtown. “I said there’s no way — it’s been all over the press — there’s no way a guy came in like that.”

But it turned out to be true, Hall said.

Hall told The State Journal over the phone that the unknown man came in Sunday afternoon and waited until the store’s manager, Ben Beach, was finished with another customer.

Hall said the man then asked Beach if they sold Pappy Van Winkle. When Beach told them they didn’t have any in stock, he allegedly offered to sell them what he had — which he described as a lot.

Beach told the man that they had to buy liquor from licensed distributors, Hall said. That’s when he said the man “clammed up” and left.

“It might have lasted 30 seconds,” Hall said. “He did the right thing company-wise.”

Hall said customers have been coming into his store and talking about the Pappy-heist ever since Buffalo Trace reported that more than $26,000 worth was taken in an apparent inside job.

Reported stolen were 65 cases — with three bottles per case — of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year bourbon and nine bottles of Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year bourbon is worth about $130 a bottle. Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye is aged for 13 years and is worth about $25 a bottle.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said the bourbon was stolen over the last couple of months and about 50 employees had access to it.

Hall said Beach promptly contacted authorities.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office released the surveillance video Wednesday, calling the man a “person of interest” in the case.

In the video, a man appears to pull up to the store in a Ford F-150 truck that is green with tan trim. He also appears to be wearing a purple Bardstown High School sweatshirt.

Melton has never released the name of the liquor store.

Hall said he doesn’t know if the man in the video is actually the thief, someone who bought the bourbon from the thief or even an innocent bourbon collector.

He said Melton explained that criminals don’t always act rationally, but Hall said he can’t imagine anyone who would walk into a liquor store and offer to sell highly publicized, stolen goods.

“Even the dumbest of criminals wouldn’t risk something like that,” Hall said.

He said he hopes their surveillance video will help authorities with the case.

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  • Truthy 666 squared,

    Thanks for your response.  What "wild" accusations am I making?  What specific part of my probable scenario do you know for a fact is incorrect?  Frankly, I have all of the info that I need for what I have hypothesized do far from the previous statements made to the press by the Sheriff and Larry Cleveland.  I fully supported my logical deductions with them in my narrative.  Like I said, what specific evidence to the contrary would you like to offer to counter my hypothesis or any part of it?  My scenario does not require the Dispatch records on who was dispatched to the scene (of what, the sting at Walmart or the dump site) as the Sheriff and Cleveland have already made comments on that as I have indicated previously.  

    666x666: "What has Melton done to you for all these wild attacks?"

    Sheriff Melton has not done anything to me ever...shucks, I voted for him...once.  

    This is not personal as you infer, but rather about its about the Sheriff's policy that needs to be changed and accountability of his office for what may have been the cause for what happened to Mr. Monroe that evening in Walmart parking lot, which was wrong.  If the Sheriff had anything to do with it then he and his office should be held accountable.  Don't you agree.

    What are the grounds for a lawsuit?  That I want honest and responsible government?  That I want the Sheriff to stop putting innocent folks into harms way by coercing them into become stitches and then sending them into potentially ultraviolent drug stings where they could be killed?  That I want the newspaper to do their job and investigate what really happened to Mr. Monroe that night and why the Sheriff and Commonwealth Attorney have dragged their feet on bringing this to trial and telling Mr. Monroe's family and the public what happened that night?  If the SJ doesn't do it soon, then we will see if another real news reporter will not do ask the pertinent questions.  And who are they gonna sue, some anony entity on a public forum?

    Your attempts at misdirection to the FPD are very clumsy and just make you look enen more like your office has something to hide...which I believe that it does.  Confession is good for the soul.


  • Once again anonmous 1713/anonymouse/intellectual/heterosexual is making wild accusations about the Sheriff. I'm sure the sheriff called all the national media to come to our sleepy little town., then you accuse him of murder. you continually make these wild accusation while not doing a simple open records request for the calls to Dispatch to see who was dispatched to the scene and when. What has Melton done to you for all these wild attacks? Your obsession is out of control and when this is all done, it will be amazing if you are not sued. 

    "The City police are probably investigating it too, but they are not thrusting themselves into the spotlight."

    And Hetero, if you noticed, since Major Deaton retired, the FPD is having all kinds of stories put in the paper. Why don't you bash them for being media hungry too?

  • The liquor store workers did not ever actually see a bottle of the Pappy, wo these instances could have been a hoax.  If the thief had any sense, which they obviously did since they were able to make the heist and get away with it, they would just wait a few years until the heat died down and then find an unscrupulous liquor store owner to purchase the loot.  It ain't like it is gonna go bad with is already 20 years old.  

    "Why is the Franklin COUNTY Sheriff on this case?"  

    If anything, Pat is the consummate politician who understands free publicity.  And it really doesn't matter if a crime is in the City or County, he can take the case.  The City police are probably investigating it too, but they are not thrusting themselves into the spotlight.

    Shucks, this high profile fluff case was made for the Sheriff, as it has been on the national news...and the SJ's Kristina Belcher helped. How many fluff stories has she done on this so far, while ignoring the possible implication of Melton's office in the murder of one of his office's confidential informants during a botched drug sting operation in Walmart's parking lot last year.  In that apparent sting, Charles Monroe was strangled to death after he entered the car of 3 Owen County men for a drug deal.  His body was dumped on the entrance ramp of I-64 where a lay until the next morning even though the Sheriff's Office was notified of it, probably because the Sheriff knew who it was and who the perps were and was too busy chasing them back to Owenton.  All 3 men were in the Sheriff's custody the next morning before they went out to the body.  If the Sheriff had not been involved in the botched sting, how did he even know that the Owen men had even committed a crime?

  • Buffalo Trace is in the county.The city/county line runs through their parking lot with all buildings in the county.

  • Why is the Franklin COUNTY Sheriff on this case? Did it not happen within the city limits where the Frankfort Police Department would have juristriction. Pat Melton never misses an opportunity to have his picture on the tv screen or local paper. This theft has gotten more publicity than some murder investigations must be closer to elections and hopefully the next sheriff will care more about the duites of his office than publicity.



  • I watched Lexington Heralds video of him pulling in & getting out and another of him inside the store. Those two were blurry & fuzzy. Then another camera from a different angle showed very clear pictures. My question is, Do they have a video of this person leaving the lot in his truck? If so then surely they have a plate number and know who it was by now. If not, Then WHY? Just seems weird that they are asking the publics help when they have video of before he pulled in but none as he drove off.