The whisky world has had its fair share of crime. During American Prohibition, people had to get, let’s say, legally creative, to get their hands on some whisky.
But since then, whisky gangsters, chancers and petty thieves have gone to great lengths to get their hands on a bottle of the good stuff — and make a buck while they’re at it.
As it happens, high-priced whisky really lends itself to the perfect crime. Bottles are small and portable, and an extremely high-end bottle of Scotch can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Plus, there’s a red-hot black market for special bottles.
Of course, we here at the Club in no way condone such skulduggery. And please whisky lovers, don’t try this at home.
Here’s a list of eight remarkable whisky thefts from across the globe.
This case is infamous. In mid-2013, Buffalo Trace reported more than 200 bottles of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon and 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye — worth tens of thousands of dollars — had disappeared from the distillery over the years.
The distillery launched an investigation to get to the bottom of the missing booze. But no luck.
The following year, an anonymous tipster exposed a long-term employee who had been taking advantage of lax security measures in two big Kentucky distilleries: Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey.
The employee masterminded a ring and was stealing loads of whisky and reselling it through a network of local connections.
The thieves took in more than $US100,000 worth over five years. The kingpin wasn’t just stealing bottles and cases of whiskey from Buffalo Trace; he was casually driving away with entire barrels of the stuff and then selling those full bourbon barrels to collectors — brazen or what!
In both cases, their activities went undetected for years — mainly because of a lax inventory system. And, both companies almost expected employees to pocket some booze as a normal part of business.
No doubt Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace tightened ship in the wake of the scandal.