CHARLESTON, SC - Matti Anttila, owner and president of Chicken Cock Whiskey, a brand that originally gained notoriety during the prohibition era, has offered a $10,000 reward for the return of 884 cases of the bottled spirit, stolen in a truck stop heist this past weekend.
The 18-wheel tractor-trailer, loaded with more than 10,000 bottles of Chicken Cock Whiskey, had recently left the distillery in Charleston and was headed for Glazer's, the brand's Texas-based distributor, when it was stolen from a Petro gas station and truck stop in Florence.
The truck cab was later found but the trailer and contents were not. Anttila estimates that the whiskey, with a retail value of over $200,000, would be worth as much as $1.4 million if sold through restaurants or bars.
Chicken Cock Whiskey is a recently revitalized American whiskey brand that is generating a loyal following and widespread consumer demand across the Southeast, fueled by the dramatic rise in the popularity of flavored whiskeys, one of the fastest-growing categories in the spirits industry.
Originally a Kentucky bourbon first produced in 1856, the Chicken Cock brand was revived by Anttila for its vintage appeal and its history as the "house whiskey" at the famed Cotton Club in Harlem during prohibition. The new Chicken Cock Whiskey is packaged in quick-chill aluminum bottles, a nod to the original brand and its reputation for being presented in non-descript tin cans in the speakeasies of the Roaring 20s.
"I guess it's fitting that a brand that rose to prominence as a bootleg bourbon during prohibition gets hijacked just as it returns to market in 2013," Anttila said. "While I appreciate the irony in this situation, we really would like our whiskey back."
In an effort to recover the stolen shipment, Anttila is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to its return in full. As for the perpetrators, Anttila said he will leave their fate in the hands of law enforcement. He requested that anyone with information regarding the tractor trailer theft please contact the Florence County sheriff's department.