BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — UPDATE (5/23): The state has withdrawn the misdemeanor criminal charge and has decided to lower it to a summary offense. McClain now has to pay $267 in fines along with court costs. He reportedly told police he would prefer they drink the bottle rather than destroying it, so it doesn’t go to waste.
For whiskey aficionados, there is nothing like a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, a Kentucky-made bourbon sold in Pennsylvania only through a special lottery each fall.
“We received over 113,000 entries, and of those, we selected 1,911 winners,” said Elizabeth Brassell, spokesperson for the PA Liquor Control Board.
That’s about one out of one hundred chances to buy bourbon that sells between $335 and $380 per bottle. But once you have your bottle, warn state police, remember this:
“You should not be purchasing alcohol to make a profit from it,” Sgt. Shawn Fischer told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday. “If you do not have a liquor license, you should not be selling the alcohol in Pennsylvania.”
In a criminal complaint, a Butler County man is accused of going on Craig’s List to resell his bottle of Pappy Van Winkle for $550.
Fischer from the State Police’s Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement told KDKA via Face Time that state law is clear — alcohol is for personal enjoyment only. “These people will buy and turn around because it’s so popular and expensive, they’ll try to turn a profit on it which is illegal if they don’t have a license to sell alcohol,” he explained.
According to the complaint, Barry McClain of Lancaster Township was unaware that state law prohibits individuals from selling their alcohol to family, friends, or strangers. “He said he was not aware you could not sell alcohol without a license at this point. We educated him on that,” said Fischer.
State police confiscated his bourbon and charged him with a misdemeanor with a hearing before a district magistrate set for next month. If McClain is found guilty, will he get his bottle of Pappy Van Winkle back?
“Ultimately the alcohol will be destroyed, per our regulations,” Fisher told KDKA’s Jon Delano. “A $550 bottle of bourbon gets, what, flushed down the drain?” asked Delano. “Unfortunately, yes, that’s what happens.”