November 23, 2013 – Franklin County (Kentucky) sheriff’s deputies have cleared Bardstown High School principal Chris Pickett as a suspect in the theft of approximately $26,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle whiskey from a warehouse at Buffalo Trace Distillery. The Lexington-Herald Leader reported today that Sheriff Pat Melton no longer considers Pickett a suspect in the the case.
Pickett was spotted on surveillance cameras at a liquor store in Elizabethtown, Kentucky several days after the theft was reported. A clerk told investigators that Pickett inquired about selling a “large amount of Pappy”, but Pickett and his lawyer said the principal was actually trying to buy some Pappy Van Winkle whiskey, not sell it. 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-year-old Bourbon and 9 cases of Pappy 13-year-old Rye were stolen from Buffalo Trace in what deputies believe was an inside job that was carried out over several weeks. Melton told the Herald-Leader that more than 100 people have been questioned so far, but no arrests have been made in the case and none of the stolen whiskey has turned up so far.
Melton plans to make what he described as a “significant announcement” on December 2 in a news conference at his office in Frankfort. So far, the Van Winkle family and Buffalo Trace (which produces Pappy Van Winkle whiskies under contract for the Van Winkles) have not commented on the thefts, and no rewards have been offered yet for information in the case.
This story will be updated as more details become available.