LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Whoever stole five heavy barrels of Wild Turkey bourbon from a Kentucky warehouse may have taken a lot more liquor than previously thought and the case could result in multiple indictments, according to the sheriff investigating the whodunit mystery in the world's bourbon-making hub.
So far, one person has been arrested in the Wild Turkey case, but several law enforcement agencies are looking for possible accomplices, Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said. Bourbon barrels weigh hundreds of pounds each when filled with aging whiskey.
"There are several people that are suspects that are involved in it, and we would anticipate moving forward with this case," Melton said by phone.
Melton, who called off a press conference that was planned Tuesday in Frankfort, said investigators turned up a new lead that will delay presenting the case to the grand jury in Franklin County. He wouldn't discuss the development, but said the case could go before the grand jury as soon as next week.
"We just had a major development today that has opened up a couple more doors for us, and we're going to follow up on that," the sheriff said. Melton said the state attorney general's office has played an important role in the investigation.
Attorney General Jack Conway said his office's cybercrimes unit helped in "making a major break in this case."
"We turned this evidence around in a matter of days and it helped provide critical links for law enforcement," Conway said.
The one person arrested so far is Gilbert Thomas Curtsinger, a longtime employee at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. He has pleaded not guilty to multiple offenses, including receiving stolen property over $10,000. Curtsinger's attorney, Whitney Lawson, declined to comment on the case Monday.
The stolen bourbon barrels — valued at about $3,000 each — were found behind a shed in Franklin County, with spray paint covering the labeling on top of each barrel. Wild Turkey's owner, Italian-based Gruppo Campari, has said there were no signs anyone broke into the central Kentucky warehouse where the aging bourbon was stolen. The bourbon was slated to become Wild Turkey 101, the brand's flagship product, the company said.
Bourbon coming off the still is put in new, charred oak barrels for aging in warehouses, a traditional process that gives the whiskey its distinctive taste and color.
Adding to the intrigue is that the Wild Turkey heist came two years after the still-unsolved theft of some pricey Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and rye whiskey. That hard-to-get whiskey was taken from the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
Melton declined comment Monday on whether the two cases are connected.
The earlier heist netted 195 bottles of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve bourbon and 27 bottles of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye. That missing whiskey had a retail value at the time of about $26,000.
Kentucky is home to about 95 percent of the world's bourbon production with brands such as Jim Beam, Evan Williams, Wild Turkey, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve.