An employee of Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort has been charged in the theft of five barrels of bourbon from the Wild Turkey Distillery in nearby Lawrenceberg, Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said Thursday.
The bourbon was recovered Wednesday during a search of a residence on St. John's Road in northwestern Franklin County. The barrels were found behind a storage shed.
Each barrel, if it contained Wild Turkey 101, would be valued at $3,000, a spokesman for the Lawrenceburg distillery said. The distillery said it was investigating to verify that the barrels were Wild Turkey.
Normally there are identifying marks on the barrel heads, but the marks on the stolen barrels had been burned or painted over.
Gilbert Thomas Curtsinger, 45, of Franklin County, was arrested Wednesday and lodged in the Franklin County Regional Jail, Melton said. He is charged with receiving stolen property over $10,000, possession of a controlled substance (steroids) and possession of drug paraphernalia.
"We are looking for other suspects," Melton said.
The sheriff's office received a tip, and after an investigation, detectives obtained a search warrant, Melton said.
The sheriff would not say when the barrels were reported stolen from Wild Turkey's Anderson County distillery.
He also could not say whether the investigation might be a break in the 2013 theft of more than 200 bottles of rare 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, valued at more than $26,000, from Buffalo Trace, Curtsinger's employer. That case remains unsolved.
"We are following every lead in the Pappy case," Melton said. "It's still an ongoing investigation."
As for the recovery of the Wild Turkey barrels, he said: "This thing is going in a lot of different directions. It's a very rapidly developing investigation."
In a statement, Wild Turkey spokesman Dave Karraker said: "We will work in full cooperation with the Franklin County and Anderson County's sheriffs' offices regarding their current investigation. We thank the authorities for their efforts on this case and have immediately begun our own internal investigation.
"We take this matter very seriously and support the pursuit of full legal action against anyone found in violation of local, state or federal government laws related to our business. As this is an ongoing investigation, we have no further comments at this time."
Wild Turkey currently has more than 500,000 barrels aging in Kentucky, Karraker wrote later in an email.