The greatest whiskey heist of the past 25 years—or at least the greatest whiskey heist of the past 25 years I am thinking of right now—may have been solved: On Tuesday, a Franklin County, Kentucky, grand jury indicted nine people in connection with the theft of at least $100,000 worth of bourbon, including 65 cases of the rare and highly valued Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve.
Bourbon: no longer the drink of choice for just wild west gunslingers and Southern gentlemen. According to a report in the Associated Press, bourbon is the current de rigueur drink for Americans (and drinkers abroad), causing a boom in sales for bourbon distilleries in the billions of dollars a year.
Julian Proctor Van Winkle III and his son Julian Preston Van Winkle are the proprietors of Kentucky's Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, and they make the best bourbon in the world at a rate of roughly 7,000 cases per year. Which is why you can't find any of it, anywhere. Sighting a bottle of the 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve, which retails at $130, in a liquor store is like spotting a Scaly-Sided Merganser in the wild. The Van Winkles are personally beset by desperate high-class drunks seeking an in. Personal assistants have wasted days trying to track down bottles for well-heeled bosses. Pappy is furtively deployed to seal multi-million-dollar business deals. Leads are whispered about among aficionados: "I heard about a warehouse in Jersey that just got a shipment."