A Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Heist Is the Subject of a New True Crime Documentary on Netflix

Pour a glass and binge-watch on July 14.

Back in 2013, the investigation into a massive theft of Kentucky bourbon began grabbing national headlines. Now, the story is getting a docuseries retelling on Netflix next month. Arriving on July 14, Heist is billed as a six-episode true crime series where "ordinary people almost get away with these extraordinary heists." The Season 1 trailer promises three real stories — and one of those may be familiar to people in the food and beverage world: "Pappygate."

By 2015, authorities in Kentucky's Franklin County had finally caught the culprits behind a series of thefts from local distilleries which included large amounts of coveted — and extremely valuable — Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. As Kentucky.com explains, Gilbert "Toby" Curtsinger — who worked at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort for 26 years — pled guilty to the infamous Pappy theft in 2018. Both Curtsinger and Pat Melton, the former Franklin County Sheriff who helped bring him to justice, appear in episodes number five and six of the series called "The Bourbon King." (As an interesting side note, Curtsinger was reportedly sentenced to 15 years for the crime but served just 90 days before being released.)

Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon
The Washington Post / Contributor/Getty Images

"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," Melton said, according to Kentucky's WKYT News. The show is a mix of interviews and dramatic re-enactments. "At the end of the day, this was bourbon… I never thought, I just never envisioned having to do a press briefing, a daily press briefing on a theft case."

Meanwhile, director Nick Frew discussed the uniqueness of the case with the Louisville Courier-Journal. "It is a very, very difficult story to tell. It's very complicated, and it doesn't fit with the rest of the stories in a classic heist way," he told the paper. "We all worked together and said, 'let's make this a roller coaster ride. Let's make every beat of it live, sing, and match the other stories.' It was a fun challenge… We leaned into a sort of Coen Brothers, slightly absurd vibe, creating montages and finding music cues that embodied the moments."

As for the other two heists, one takes place at the Miami airport while the other is an armored car robbery in Las Vegas — and it appears neither involved the theft of any distilled spirits.

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