Who Stole the Vodka? Better Question – Why Bother?

Tsars-Bottle-6-1-2012-webBuffalo Trace Newsletter had an article last week about the theft of $1.1 million worth of vodka (752 cases) from a customs warehouse in Miami.

According to a number of news reports including CNN:

“The men were caught by the cameras loading… several boxes containing Spirits of the Tsars Golden Vodka, a Ukrainian-made vodka that features 24-carat gold on its label that retails for between US$250 in the off-trade and $1,200 in the on-trade.”

The product is “golden,” not just because of the label. It is an amber color aged in Cognac barrels for three years.

A number of observations come to mind.

According to the label, this is not vodka but a vodka specialty – “vodka infused with grape wine brandy and natural flavors with caramel color.” At $250 a bottle, the closest you get to Cognac is the barrel? “Golden” vodka, thanks to caramel coloring? Where are you when we need you, PT Barnum?

Most thefts of liquor generally involve product placement under the raincoat or “slippage” out the back door. That’s why you see expensive products in lock boxes, behind the counter or with a “chastity belt” around the cap. But these thieves punched a hole in the wall of the warehouse directly to the area where the vodka was stored. They win the award for brazenness as well as stupidity. Who is going to buy the vodka? Their sales are small, so an appearance of these goods will be noticed.

Somewhere in the basement of a garish McMansion, sits a retired oligarch who ushers his guests into a special wood paneled room where they sip this golden elixir while admiring a stolen Picasso. Really?

The response from the company was to offer a reward worth $5,000. At $1.1 million, 752 cases, means it’s worth $1,462 per case. As CNN put it, “if you use that reward to buy the stuff at some South Beach nightclubs, you could buy about four bottles of it.”

The chincy reward makes me wonder. But then again, the name of the game in the booze business is depletions of stock – through the front door preferably but any other way might also work.

Anyone with information about this theft is urged to stop laughing.

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1 comment

  1. I remember your name from back in the Seagram days.. I worked at the distillery in Lawrenceburg, IN and I always enjoy your opinions and memories.. keep em coming !

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