It was the story that shook a thirsty nation to its core. For five years, authorities were trying desperately to find the despicable thieves behind an ongoing ring of theft from the Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries. It was, as one brave journalist dubbed it, A BOURBON HEIST. Finally, in 2013, after law enforcement narrowed its list of potential targets in this $26,000 caper*, which included approximately 20 cases of Pappy Van Winkle goodness, nine people were indicted, including a group of “rogue distillery workers.” While the damage had been done and the bourbon-loving public had been deprived of the already all-too-rare Van Winkle bottles, the good news was that some of the stolen bourbon had been saved.
In all, 28 bottles of Van Winkle had been confiscated by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and thus Sheriff Pat Melton had an outstanding idea for what to do with these top shelf treasures. He suggested that they be auctioned off with the proceeds going to charities like the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association’s Boys and Girls Ranch, according to The Guardian, but that will probably not be happening. As if Pappy wasn’t hard enough to find, Julian Van Winkle III has decided that the 28 bottles will not be auctioned.
Instead, he wants them to be destroyed.
Julian Van Winkle III, grandson of Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr, raised concerns about putting the purloined whiskey up for sale, Melton said. Van Winkle wants the stolen bourbon destroyed because of concerns it might have been tampered or contaminated, the sheriff said.
“We totally respect his wishes,” Melton said.
But ultimately, a judge will decide the fate of the confiscated whiskey once the theft case is completed. (Via The Guardian)
Many bourbon enthusiasts might respond to Van Winkle’s desire to keep his family brand’s reputation stellar and pristine with a hearty scoff, because, again, it’s really f*cking hard to find this stuff, and actually getting your hands on a bottle without paying a stupid price to a third party (we’ll consider the auction price to be worthwhile for the charity aspect) is practically a miracle these days.
Alas, this is an industry driven by purists who believe that if a bottle falls into the wrong hands, the worst has probably occurred. “Nary a chance shall be taken,” they’d say while staring at a sealed bottle and fondly remembering the taste of a rare bourbon they once sipped. After all, because this BOURBON HEIST involved “rogue distillery workers,” it is possible that they broke the seals, replaced the good bourbon with trash swill, and then resealed them in a way that was at least good enough to pass the test of a shmuck with some cash. Or worse, they stored the bottles in hot Port-O-Johns. *glances at bottle of 12-year, suddenly gets really nervous*
So, yes, there’s a possibility that bourbon connoisseurs shaking their tumblers in rage over this could be worried about nothing. The judge could ignore the Van Winkle family’s wishes and allow the police to auction the 28 bottles for charity. But this is Kentucky, baby. The land of bourbon. Brown oil. God’s hooch. What the bourbon barons say is bound to be law of the land. Unless, of course, someone is daring enough to pull off… BOURBON HEIST 2: BOTTLES TO THE PEOPLE.
*That’s, like, several hundred thousand dollars in the secondary chump market cash.
(Via The Guardian)