More than $26K in rare bourbon stolen from Buffalo Trace Distillery

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton says theft may have been an inside job

By Kristina Belcher, Published:

Sheriff Pat Melton said his office is conducting an investigation after more than $26,000 of rare bourbon was reported stolen from Buffalo Trace Distillery.

“Right now we are looking at it as an internal theft,” Melton said.

Melton said Buffalo Trace reported Tuesday that 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 were taken.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year bourbon is worth about $130 a bottle. According to the Buffalo Trace website, it is the top rated bourbon whiskey in the world with a 99 out of 100 rating by the World Spirits Championship.

Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye is aged for 13 years and is worth about $25 a bottle.

Melton said the bourbon was stolen over the last couple of months.

“I think it’s going to be a tough case to solve,” Melton said. “You got about 50 employees that had access.”

Buffalo Trace representatives could not be reached for comment.

“It will be a challenge but we’re going to do the best we can,” Melton said.

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  • Interesting twist on the Sheriff's War on Some Drugs, huh Ms. Belcher?  The irony is literally dripping in your story.  In this case, he is actually trying to find out who stole this addictive and lethal drug that is priced far in excess of the most potent heroin or cocaine, and recover the containers for the owner...pure hypocrisy!  The difference in the Sheriff's Zero Tolerance with some drugs and this drug is that the government says that adults can use it despite its catastrophic impacts on society, which is absolute insanity!

    This is the legal drug alcohol, a depressant that slows down your brain and body, your speech gets slurred, your vision gets blurry, you get dizzy and lose your balance, and you feel disoriented and confused, and most become beligerent and aggressive. Take a little too much and it will make you violently ill, take a bit more and it will kill you.  

    People often take this drug to excess and get into cars even though they know drinking it and driving is a crime, and kill tens of thousands of innocent people in alcohol-related crashes every year. That's about one person every 30 minutes in the United States...dwarfing the negative societal impacts of all illegal drugs AND drug related homicides combined.

    Our legal system is very inconsistent with the way that it treats our citizens who are either possessing or using different drugs? This inconsistency appears to be based on little more than whether these drugs are socially acceptable and therefore, legal. The application of these laws ignore the relative negative social impacts of the use or possession of substances in question, opting instead to rely on an emotional knee-jerk reaction based on myths and innuendo. 

    “It will be a challenge (to catch the thieves) but we’re going to do the best we can,” Melton said. Talk about inconsistency!   And you know what?  I will bet that they catch them.

  • It is an at will job. Offer a polygraph test or lose your job. Case solved.

  • Maybe they changed their case size or have different size cases for shipping purposes. I've tried this bourbon & wasn't impressed. It tasted like moldy barrel wood - real stout at that. The Japaneese are also crazy about this brand & will spend the big bucks to get it. One perticular Japaneese will buy the whole barrel & have it bottled right on the spot.

    My question is WERE THE CAMERAS ON?. i would also venture to say that more than one is involved in this.

  • that 65 cases – with three bottles per case...........uhmmm..there are 12 bottles to a case of Pappy.


    With linited availability...they sell anywhere from $600 to $5000

    Per Wall Street Journal.

    July 8, 2013, 4:51 PM

    Pappy Van Winkle, The Bourbon So Popular Even Billionaires Can’t Find It

    You could call it bourbon, or you could call it a $5,000 bottle of liquified, barrel-aged unobtanium. Its fans refer to it as Pappy, when they’re lucky enough to get a sniff of it, and those times are few and far between.

    The web has yet to catch on to this very lively feature piece in Louisville Magazine this month, taking a look at Pappy Van Winkle, the Kentucky bourbon that is by all accounts one of the most sought-after bottles of booze on earth.

    Its distillers pump out from 7,000 to 8,000 cases each year, 12 bottles to the case, and hope that within a decade they can double that to 15,000. Jim Beam, by comparison, makes 7-8 million cases per year. So the Beam:Pappy ratio is about 1000:1.

    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. That was back before the great bourbon renaissance, before the resurgence of public interest in whiskey. And that means there is very little of it to go around.

    Each year’s batch of Pappy is released in a single go, with a state-by-state allocation (and a small international allocation making its way to London). The priority is to get the bottles to “good homes” — bars or distributors that have long-running credibility as appreciators of good bourbon have the best shot at getting their hands on some. The company has resisted the temptation to simply sell it all to the highest bidder.

    And while a thriving secondary market can push the cost of a bottle to the $5,000 mark, it’s still a hard to find item. Julian Preston Van Winkle, the scion of the family dynasty that produces the drink, put it simply to Louisville Magazine:

    “There’s nobody else in our situation. I can’t think of another product, period. Ferrari, Lamborghini? But if you have the means, you can get one of those. That’s not necessarily true with us. We have people with literally billions of dollars who can’t find a bottle. They could buy a private jet in cash. They’d have an easier time buying our company.”