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Bourbon heist getting attention, but no suspects

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The investigation continues into who stole more than $25,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort. The investigation continues into who stole more than $25,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort.
Bardstown High School Principal Chris Pickett Bardstown High School Principal Chris Pickett
Adam Breitenstein Adam Breitenstein
Tom Fischer Tom Fischer
Authorities released surveillance video showing a "person of interest" in the case. Authorities released surveillance video showing a "person of interest" in the case.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The high school principal identified as a person of interest in the Pappy Van Winkle bourbon theft case has been forthcoming with investigators, a law enforcement official said.

Bardstown High School Principal Chris Pickett met with his lawyer and Franklin County detectives Monday afternoon, Sheriff Pat Melton said.

Detectives aren't clearing Pickett's name because they still have to confirm the information he told them, Melton said. They are also following up on other leads but don't yet have a suspect, he said.

The investigation into who stole more than $25,000 worth of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort earlier this month took a turn when authorities released surveillance video showing a "person of interest" in the case.

A manager at an Elizabethtown liquor store said Pickett tried to sell them 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, the same kind stolen from the distillery.

Pickett came forward as the man in the video – he was even wearing his Bardstown High School shirt – but said he had nothing to do with the theft.

"This guy would've been, if he is indeed the thief, very stupid to walk into a liquor store, put a Bardstown High School sweatshirt on, and then offer to sell the stolen goods," said Tom Fischer, who runs BourbonBlog.com. "It would really surprise me if he was the culprit -- but you never know."

Fischer questioned why Buffalo Trace isn't releasing the strip stamp numbers on each bottle, so that buyers would know when they saw the stolen bourbon.

The bourbon may have been stolen because of its value as a rare drink.

An ounce and a half of the 20-year variety costs $45 at Silver Dollar restaurant on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, the eatery's general manager said.

"That's what makes it good and sought-after. If you've got it, it means a lot to people," said Adam Breitenstein. "It holds a lot of value and, the longer you hang onto it, the more the price goes up."

Breitenstein, who said it's difficult to find the bourbon at stores, added that he was concerned when he heard about the Buffalo Trace heist.

"I was worried about how much whiskey we were going get this year," he said. "That was the first thing that crossed my mind."

Before he met with detectives, Principal Pickett went to school as usual Monday, said Doug Hubbard, Pickett's lawyer.

Hubbard said Pickett is a bourbon collector and was asking to buy Pappy Van Winkle bourbon at the Elizabethtown store, not sell it.

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