Kentucky Authorities Say They’ve Busted A Criminal Whiskey Syndicate

Officials in the bourbon basin* say they’ve put all the pieces of a puzzling disappearing whiskey caper together, announcing the arrest of a group accused of orchestrating liquor thefts at two famous Kentucky distilleries.

A Franklin County grand jury indicted nine people Tuesday accused of being part of a veritable organized crime group that officials say pulled off a series of thefts that could go back to 2008, perhaps including the theft of 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle Reserve from Buffalo Trace in 2013 and five barrels of Wild Turkey bourbon that went missing from its eponymous facility this year, reports The Courier Journal.

The Pappy Van Winkle heist had remained unsolved, or so it seemed. Authorities said earlier this month they were putting the grand jury indictment in the Wild Turkey case on hold while they reviewed new leads and evidence.

Which brings us up to Tuesday, when the grand jury issued charges of engaging in organized crime against a Buffalo Trace Distillery worker possibly linked to “Pappygate,” his wife and father-in law, two other Kentucky distillery workers and others.

The group is accused of stealing bourbon worth at least $100,000 — both bottles and barrels — from both the distilleries to sell it in a scheme going on since 2008, as well as trafficking in anabolic steroids.

One of the workers was the main member, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Zachary Becker, and that everyone knew each other socially or through softball.

Becker said that the Buffalo Trace-made Pappy Van Winkle bourbon stolen might possibly have been a part of the Pappygate hullabaloo from 2013 but that “is more for Buffalo Trace to figure out and their inventory issues.”

“When it comes to us, we were able to determine that there was a certain, very large amount of Pappy Van Winkle stolen by members of this syndicate, by [the worker] and then thereafter sold to various individuals.”

Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey released a joint statement thanking the sheriff’s office for their work, saying they’re cooperating and supporting the prosecution of crimes related to their businesses.

The investigation is ongoing.

Check out the rest of the Courier-Journal’s great reporting on this. Heck, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this turned into a movie directed-by-and-starring some It actor with the perfect five o’clock shadow.

Pappy Van Winkle theft poss. tied to syndicate [The Courier-Journal]

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