2013 Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Heist Subject of New Netflix Docuseries
"The Bourbon King" is part of Netflix's "Heist" series, which showcases three of the biggest capers of this century.
The case, known in the liquor world as “Pappygate,” made international headlines and will be featured in two of the six episodes of “Heist,” a Netflix docuseries in which "ordinary people almost get away with ... extraordinary heists."
In 2013, 195 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle and 27 bottles of Pappy Van Winkle Rye were reported stolen from Buffalo Trace Distillery, WKYT reported.
“It was probably a once in a lifetime case,” former Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton told WKYT. “Once this thing broke, we started getting more and more and we went to a white board and we had a team meeting. We started drawing it and connecting the lines and all of the sudden you had engaging in organized crime.”
While such a huge haul of rare bourbon would seemingly be enough to make anyone’s eyebrows raise, the crime wasn’t so easy to solve. It took authorities two years to crack the case.
After an anonymous tip, authorities recovered more than $100,000 in the rare liquor on the property of Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger, who had worked out of the Franklin County distillery for nearly 26 years, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Curtsinger had smuggled the bottles of rare Pappy Van Winkle and other premium bourbons out of his workplace and sold them for cash through a syndicate that included members of his recreational softball team, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Cops said that the barrels were manipulated to remove the distillers markings.
"Never in a million years would I'd have ever dreamt this would have got this attention and captured the hearts and minds of America," Melton told WHAS11 in 2018. "It's just a remarkable story."
In 2018, Curtsinger pleaded guilty to stealing the bottles of rare bourbon. Curtsinger was sentenced to 15 years for the crime but served just 30 days before being released.
Ten people were accused of taking part in the caper, but only Curtsinger served jail time.
Both Curtsinger and Melton, the sheriff, appear in the Netflix docuseries, which airs July 14.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m excited about it,” Melton told WKYT recently. “I’m excited to see it because I just hope they showcase the work that the men and women did in our office and what a great job that they did in solving this case.”
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