The Bourbon King: Pappygate Docuseries ‘Heist’ Covers Legendary Theft Of Rare Bourbon By The Barrel | Whiskey Raiders
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The Bourbon King: Pappygate Docuseries ‘Heist’ Covers Legendary Theft Of Rare Bourbon By The Barrel

In 2013, 18 barrels of Bourbon and nearly 300 bottles went missing from Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The epic heist was noticed immediately – the value of a barrel of Pappy Van Winkle is upwards of $100,000 – but it took authorities nearly 2 years to catch their culprit.

Toby Curtsinger, now released from prison, loved working at Buffalo Trace distilling almost as much as he enjoyed rec league softball. To Toby, the two often overlapped; it was common for Buffalo Trace employees to leave the work day with a bottle or two of bourbon in their bag. Toby was popular for bringing bourbon – rare or otherwise – to the softball diamond. Toby got turned onto the idea of flipping (reselling) Pappy van Winkle when a friend came over to drink and mentioned knowing folks who would pay good money for a bottle or two. Toby’s excellent access to nabbing product quickly became a profitable idea. From softball to backroom poker games, it wasn’t hard to turn on a dime and resell for massive profit.

Heist’s 2021 release covers three individual storylines. A Vegas vault thief, a Miami airport shakedown and the largest bourbon theft that’s ever taken place play host to the new true crime documentary. That’s right. The story of Gilbert Curtsinger is finally being told in video format, retelling the shocking story of how cases of bottles and literal barrels were stolen from Buffalo Trace and resold. The bourbon was none other than Pappy and other Van Winkle bottlings.

As of this morning, Heist is now available to watch on Netflix. The series covers three major heists that have been historical in one way or another. The series dedicates two episodes to each heist, with the final two episodes displaying the history and happenings of The Bourbon King – Toby Curtsinger’s organized heist from Buffalo Trace Distillery.

In 2015, Curtsinger was arrested after making the majority of sales at rec softball leagues in Kentucky. Buffalo Trace noted that 65 cases of various Rip Van Winkle and Pappy bottlings were missing in 2013, though investigations ultimately dead ended until a tip was filed after sales were made. It was quickly discovered that many Trace employees were providing product to Curtsinger to sell.

While Curtsinger was most well known for lifting bottles of Pappy and barrels of bourbon, he was also found to be in possession Wild Turkey barrels at the time of his arrest. It’s incredible to consider stealing a 500lb barrel full of whiskey, but folks in Curtsinger’s circle were thirsty for barrels, like bottles, all the same.

Sentenced to 15 years in prison but released after 30 days as a part of Kentucky’s “shock probation” program, Curtsinger is serving the rest of his time under probation. The story of Pappygate – as the theft, resale and court drama is referred to – has been purely text only until this point, and interviews with Curtsinger have been scarce.

Heist covers the entire timeline of Pappygate, a common name for the heist, and is now available to watch on Netflix today.

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Jay West, better known as t8ke across the internet and beyond, is a multi-disciplined spirits writer, media personality and above all else, drinks enthusiast. From tastings to conventions and events, you can always expect to find Jay wherever fine drinks are being served.