Pappy’s Bourbon Heisted in Kentucky

The number of heists of high-end liquors continues to grow. Now it was the turn of bourbon: 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle, one of the USA’s most expensive bourbons, vanished from its warehouse in Kentucky.

According to the local prPappy_Van_Winkleess, Sheriff Pat Melton of Franklin County, considered the disappearance a theft. He suspects an inside job but wasn't able to pinpoint when the theft occurred: it may have taken place in the past month or two.

The thieve acted after the liquor had been transferred to bottles from the white-oak barrels, aging on the lower floor of the warehouse. He or she stole 195 bottles in three-bottle cases of Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year, which has a theoretical retail price of $130 a bottle, and nine cases of the less expensive13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. However, the scarce whiskey can fetch a much higher price in the red hot secondary market.

A single bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle sold recently at Bonham’s auction in New York for $1,190.

The sheriff said the bourbon disappeared from a secured area in one of the warehouses at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, where the Van Winkle brand is produced by agreement with the family owners. Perhaps the thief or thieves took it out a case or two at a time. It's quite unthinkable that anyone could could just walk out with 74 cases of whiskey under the arm.

While most Kentucky bourbon is made from corn, rye and barley, Van Winkle uses wheat instead of rye. That allows for a milder taste and a much longer aging.

If I am to give my opinion, the Pappy bourbon remains a bourbon, no offense intended, and it is far from the better things we can get from Scotland, let alone Cognac. It's very fruited and feels thick in the mouth, a strong tasting experience in any event, but for me it won't compare beyond a middle of the road VSOP.

What is interesting is that bourbon is also affected by the trend towards premium varieties that we are seeing in other spirits, vodkas, tequilas, rums… However, the real high-quality artisan bourbons are very hard to find and even more expensive, since the know-how has become very, very scarce.

Bourbon sales surpassed $2.2 billion in 2012, in a market driven by high-end products.