Police still investigating theft of dozens of cases of valuable Pappy Van Winkle bourbon

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FRANKFORT, Kentucky — Authorities continue to search for leads nearly a year after dozens of cases of an extremely rare bourbon were stolen from a central Kentucky distillery.

The theft of 65 cases of the sought-after 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort was reported Oct. 14, 2013.

The case remains unsolved despite a $10,000 reward and more than 100 people interviewed by the Franklin County sheriff's office, The Courier-Journal reported (http://cjky.it/1s3s975 ).

"I don't go anywhere (where) people don't say, 'by the way did you ever find that whiskey?" said Pappy Van Winkle's grandson Julian Van Winkle III. "I was actually in Paris at the time, so I know I didn't do it."

The heist netted 195 bottles of 20-year-old bourbon and 27 bottles of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said at the time that the 20-year-old bourbon retails for about $130 a bottle and is worth "$300 or $400 a bottle" on the secondary market. A New York liquor store's website advertised a bottle in recent days for $1,500.

A Buffalo Trace spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.

Because of the publicity surrounding the theft, people who didn't know about the brand learned about it and looked for it, Van Winkle said.

"Nothing's changed and the brand's still hard to find," Van Winkle said. "Everybody knows it. ... It just gets people angry because they can't find it."

The only lead made public in the case turned out to be false. Clerks at a Hardin County liquor store reported that a man offered to sell a large quantity of Pappy 20-year bourbon. The man was later cleared by detectives.

Melton said he still holds out hope of solving the case and that his detectives continue to work hard on it.

"This is not your typical case," he said. "... We're following up on leads as they come in."

Van Winkle isn't so optimistic.

"If it hasn't been found now, I don't think it's ever going to be found," he said.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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