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In October 2013, $100,000 worth of aged Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon went missing from the Buffalo Trace distillery, but was it really $100,000. So 65 cases with six bottles each is 390 bottles. The most the bottles would have cost at the time of the original report of theft would have been $259.99 for the coveted 23-year-old expression. So that’s $101,396, but what was truly stolen from Buffalo Trace Distillery was more than 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and rye whiskey worth more than $26,000. No this is not what Toby took, so what did he exactly get caught with? At his residence he had five full barrels of bourbon, intended to become Wild Turkey 101 and Russell’s Reserve. Overall at least 18 barrels from Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace and 25 bottles of Pappy were recovered.
What brought Toby down wasn’t the distilleries high priced security system. It was an anonymous tip that led Franklin County Sheriff’s Department to Toby’s house. The sad part that I noticed in the documentary is that Pat Melton the Sherriff for Franklin County was made to look like the bad guy. Not only did his fellow police officers point out that he was out for fame and re-election but Toby himself said just as much. So who benefited from all of this. Pat Melton lost re-election, then took a two-year break and now is a police officer for the Georgetown Police Department. He still serves Kentucky’s citizens with pride and professionalism.
Toby Curtsinger and nine others were indicted in 2015. The purported ringleader, Curtsinger was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released in 2018 after 30 days under Kentucky’s “shock probation” program. Today, Curtsinger works as a painter near Frankfort, Kentucky. His parole supervision will end in 2023. The actual thief of the Pappy and another Buffalo Trace employee, Greg Anglin, that supposedly carried out the 2013 “Pappygate” heist admitted he stole Pappy Van Winkle from Buffalo Trace, but received immunity for his testimony against Toby Curtsinger. Anglin was never charged in the case but you would assume he was fired from Buffalo Trace.
So once again who was the winner in all of this? Well of course it is the giant corporation is the winner. Free advertisement, a craze for its products and it is now the most famous distillery in the blue grass state. It has made millions off of this case. Don’t believe me, try to find a bottle of any of its products from Pappy to just bottles of its standard expression Buffalo Trace outside the blue grass state. If you haven’t seen the series it is a great watch. Cheers
So grab a glass of your favorite Buffalo Trace or Wild Turkey expression and listen as Jim and I take a long trip down The Bourbon Road with our friends discussing “Pappy Gate”. Cheers
Mike (Big Chief)