October 18, 2013 – Sheriff’s deputies in Frankfort, Kentucky are still looking for clues and suspects in the theft of approximately $26,000 worth of rare Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-year-old Bourbon and 13-year-old Rye whiskey. The theft was reported Tuesday at Buffalo Trace Distillery, where the Van Winkle family’s whiskies are distilled, matured, and bottled under a long-term contract.
Citing the ongoing criminal investigation, both Buffalo Trace executives and the Van Winkle family have declined to comment on the theft in separate emails to WhiskyCast. Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton has told the Louisville Courier-Journal and other local media organizations that he suspects an inside job, with the thieves stealing a case or two at a time over two months. Approximately 65 cases are missing, mostly of the 20-year-old Family Reserve Bourbon, with nine cases of the 13-year-old Rye missing. The Van Winkle whiskies are packaged in three-bottle cases, meaning around 195 bottles were stolen.
Buffalo Trace started bottling Pappy Van Winkle whiskies for the annual autumn release in the late summer, and the cases of whiskey were being stored on pallets in a secured warehouse with limited access. Melton’s investigation is focusing on workers who had access to the warehouse on a regular basis, and he says several tips have been reported to his office. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department at 502-875-8740.
Buffalo Trace president Mark Brown confirmed in an email to WhiskyCast that distillery tours and the visitors’ center remain open, since the investigation is focusing on a remote area of the distillery that is not open to visitors.
This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.