Real or publicity stunt: Who’s behind the missing bourbon?


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on December 3, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 3 at 9:29 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A new development and twist in the Pappy Van Winkle theft is adding even more intrigue to this mystery.

The story has grabbed headlines across the world. Now an attorney is raising a new question in this case, was this really a theft or publicity stunt?

As the search for the thief or thieves in the Pappy Van Winkle case continues, a Bardstown attorney representing the once "person of interest" in the case has his own theory. Doug Hubbard spoke to Claudia Coffey on the phone and says he is highly suspicious this is a theft at all.

“Don’t they say sometimes, follow the money. Who has profited the most from this? It wasn't somebody stealing 65 cases or two hundred bottles of Pappy Van Winkle. I think the world wide attention that Pappy Van Winkle has gotten has certainly been wonderful to their advertising and marketing departments," Hubbard said.

Hubbard represents Chris Pickett, the Bardstown High School Principal who was first named as a person of interest in the theft of nearly 200 bottles of the rare and expensive Pappy Van Winkle back in October. He's since been cleared but Hubbard says it's left a big cloud over the principal. Instead the Franklin County Sheriff announced on Monday, Dec. 3, they believe it was an inside job.

Sheriff Pat Melton isn't buying the argument that this was all a publicity stunt by Buffalo Trace, who makes the Pappy Van Winkle brand in partnership with the original family owners.

WHAS11's Claudia Coffey contacted Buffalo Trace for their reaction and a spokesperson sent this statement:

"It would be highly inappropriate to comment on an on-going investigation."

The owner of Packages and More Liquor Store in Elizabethtown which had that now infamous surveillance video of Chris Pickett walking in says he stands by what his employees told him. They simply turned it over to authorities. Now they would like to move on.

But for Chris Pickett, according to his attorney, it's been hard to move on. In the meantime, Hubbard remains suspicious.

“It just doesn't feel right. Doesn't feel right to an old country lawyer," Hubbard said.