Illegal sale of rare bourbon thwarted by sting operation

By Julian Routh | News Editor

The illegal sale of a rare bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon was halted on Duquesne’s campus last week as a result of a sting operation led by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement investigators, with help from Duquesne Police, arrested a man on Jan. 29 outside of the Forbes Avenue Barnes and Noble for trying to complete the sale of the bourbon, originally initiated through Craigslist.

However, the man didn’t know he would be exchanging the high-end 750-milliliter bottle with an undercover agent.

“Duquesne was asked to transport the suspect to Duquesne’s police station, where he was interviewed by the PLCB,” Duquesne spokeswoman Bridget Fare said.

Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Enforcement Sgt. William Baker, who led the operation, could not be reached for comment.

The sale of alcoholic beverages without a license in Pennsylvania carries a misdemeanor charge with an additional fine of $4 per fluid ounce, or $103 for a 750-millileter bottle of bourbon.

Craigslist prohibits the sale of alcohol and tobacco. The only legal way to purchase alcohol online is through Fine Wine and Good Spirits.

PLCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year bourbon retails for $149.99, but the demand far outweighs the supply.

In December, six Pappy vintages sold out online within a half hour.
“The sale has taken on a life of its own,” Kriedeman said. “It’s almost a craze at this point. Because of the popularity of those products and the limited supply, we put it in the online store because we felt that was fairest way for everyone who wanted to purchase Pappy Van Winkle to have an opportunity to buy a bottle.”