Authorities following up on a number of leads have reason to believe the $20,000 oak-barreled heist was an inside job.
By the time supervisors at Buffalo Trace realized what had happened, dozens of cases were gone — to the tune of about $25,350 retail — along with nine cases of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve rye, valued at a total of about $675.A July 2013 piece in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the cult following of the Pappy Van Winkle brand, including a 500 person waiting list for bottles that have been aged anywhere from 10 to 23 years and fetching as high as $5000 per bottle [although it clarifies that prices ranging from $100 to $500 are more typical- NANESB!].
“It appears that (the whiskey) was taken off the back of the pallets in the back of the area where they were being stored,” Melton said. The missing Pappy was being stored in an especially secure area of the Buffalo Trace Frankfort facility, one with limited access, so police are examining who would have had regular access to the whiskey, he said.
The 20-year-old bourbon retails for about $130 but the price can skyrocket on the secondary market — generally $300-$400 a bottle, or more. One California liquor store with two bottles of 20-year-old Pappy in stock Thursday was asking about $1,200 each in its online store.
Melton said he did not know how the thief would unload the pilfered Pappy, but was sure they would find a way. “I think you can be creative as you want to be,” he said.
Fortune once described it as “the ultimate cult brand,” and Buffalo Trace’s website describes Pappy as “the No. 1 rated Bourbon Whiskey in the world, with a 99 out of 100 rating by the World Spirits Championship.”
There have been thefts reported from Buffalo Trace in the past, but nothing close to this scale, Melton said. The way the bourbon was stolen — small amounts taken slowly over time — made it difficult to notice it had gone missing until is was far too late, Melton said.