Sixty five cases of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon worth $26,000 have been stolen from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Detectives suspect the theft was an inside job and happened over the past couple of months.
Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton listed the items stolen: $25,350 in 3-bottle cases of 20-year-old Pappy, and $675 in nine cases of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve rye.
Melton said that while he is not a bourbon drinker, he certainly knows Pappy’s worth.
“This is the mac daddy,” he told the Courier-Journal.
Pappy Van Winkle’s bourbon reputation is known far and wide. The stolen bottles are advertised on Buffalo Trace Distillery’s website as “intense and tantalizing” and “smooth with a citrus zest note. Some sherry notes, dried fruits and vanilla. The finish is long and elegant.”
Since the distillery produces only 7,000 cases a year, the price of a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle does nothing but climb after it is bottled.
In 2008, The Courier-Journal documented how a bottle of Pappy rapidly rises in value.
Pappy “runs right about $100 when you can find it locally,” according to the report. “Once it hits the secondary market, such as online auction sites like eBay, prices skyrocket to double or triple the original price. Bottles of Van Winkle’s priciest bourbon, the 23-year-old Pappy, will cost you about $200 in Kentucky, and $400 in Manhattan liquor stores.”
All of which means that the thieves, if they can offload their ill-gotten whiskey, could make as much as $100,000 on the open market.
When speaking about the case Sheriff Melton is confident that he will get the light-fingered bourbon thief.
“Their [Buffalo Trace's] internal controls are pretty good,” he said. “And that’s why it’s been very, very rare for it to happen.”
The theft also has put increased strain on a distillery that has already admitted that it can not meet the market demand for its signature product.
“We are making more bourbon every day,” Buffalo Trace marketing director Kris Comstock said in May. “Our warehouses are filling up with new barrels. Waiting for the bourbon to come of age is the hard part.”
One Washington bartender who described Pappy as “the ultimate cult brand” put it bluntly.
“There goes our shipment,” he told TheDC.