Destroy the Pappy?

The well publicized theft of a bunch of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon will certainly be regarded as The Whiskey Crime of the Century, and the last installment of the saga may end up being the worst part.

It began with the theft of 65 cases of the sought-after 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, reported on Oct. 14, 2013.

Fred Minnick, who used to cover this story for Whisky Advocate, has an update on what will become the recovered whiskey:

Recently, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said it would auction the whiskey for charity. They then recanted this announcement, saying the whiskey would be destroyed at the request of the Van Winkles.

For Buffalo Trace Distillery, and the Van Winkle family, the publicity from these events will simply enhance the reputation of an already legendary product. It’s a product that is produced in very short supply to begin with, and finding a bottle in the wild is already akin to spotting a unicorn.

Part of the allure is derived directly from the scarcity.  They produce only about 7,000 12-bottle cases a year for all varieties.  The bulk of the stolen bourbon, predictably, was the 20 year old stuff, bottled at 90.4 proof.  I mean, credit the thieves – the cases all weigh the same – may as well maximize the value of your efforts.

Buffalo Trace Warehouse

A large portion of it allocated to the best bars and restaurants around the world.  What remains goes through distributors, and trickles down to retail liquor stores.  Most stores don’t get any. Collectors and whiskey aficionados buy every bottle in existence (most of whom are on waiting lists – years deep), either to consume, or to resell on the secondary market at a tremendous profit.

And now, what little was recovered is going to be destroyed.  The legend will only grow.

Do click through to read Fred’s story… Some of the twists and turns of this case are not to be believed.

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