'Rogue' Workers Busted in $100K Bourbon Ring

9 charged with years of theft from 2 distilleries
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2015 2:43 PM CDT
'Rogue' Workers Busted in $100K Bourbon Ring
This 2011 photo shows the new distillery and offices of Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg, Ky.   (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

There are those, perhaps scarred by youthful overindulgence, who might wonder why anyone would steal even a shot of Wild Turkey, and then there are the nine people indicted today in Kentucky with taking thousands of dollars worth of bourbon from two distilleries. The case is attracting a lot of attention in Franklin County, reports the Courier-Journal, where a prosecutor says "you had some rogue employees who took advantage of both the trust of their companies and their knowledge of the security measures to steal the barrels and bottles of bourbon." Among those charged with organized crime are longtime Buffalo Trace Distillery worker and alleged ringleader Gilbert Curtsinger, his wife, father-in-law, and two other distillery workers.

Prosecutors say the thefts—which involved Wild Turkey as well as high-end bourbon, possibly including what the Courier-Journal calls the "notorious heist of 65 cases of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve"—date back to 2008 and that the bourbon recovered alone is worth $100,000. The scam began to unravel last month, when investigators responding to an anonymous phone tip found five 500-pound barrels of bourbon, their labels scratched off, on Curtsinger's property, reports the AP. Testing revealed a 2009 Wild Turkey, worth about $3,000 a barrel; Wild Turkey's owner said there was no sign of forced entry at the facility where the bourbon was aging. Officials also found guns, drugs, and cash at Curtsinger's residence. Adds a commonwealth attorney, it's "more than I could imagine one person drinking in a lifetime." (More distillery stories.)

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