UPDATE (SOLD!) April 14th, 4:10pm EST: This preciously rare lot of American Whiskey sold for $186,249.75.
ORIGINAL STORY: For the high majority of us, buying this probably won’t be an option. However, buying isn’t necessarily the point here. It’s kind of cool to see some rare dusty beauts surface and learn a little American Whiskey knowledge in the process.
Sotheby’s is auctioning a gorgeous collectible American Whiskey set. These bottles are relics of another era, made by parent companies who’s names do not exist anymore. The auction house has provided a nice historical backdrop of which is noted below.
Per Sotheby’s site, it notes a bidding price range estimate up to about $125k USD. Enjoy the knowledge, maybe not the whiskey unfortunately, as it will be fun and a bit interesting to see what this collection fetches when the final bell rings.
AUCTION BEGINS: Friday, April 14th, 9am EDT
AUCTION LINK: CLICK HERE
The Rare American Whiskey Selection 1976-1982
This extraordinary and unique set of five prototype bottles created in the mid 1990s represents the rarest American whiskey ever seen at auction. These bottles were originally produced as the prototypes for the world’s first collectable ultra-premium US whiskey series to exclusively feature closed distilleries in America.
5 Bottle Collection Listing:
- Old Quaker Indiana Corn Whiskey 21 Year Old Limited Edition Barrel Proof 65.0 abv 1976
- Stitzel-Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Limited Edition 17 Year Old Barrel Proof 53.5 abv 1980
- Taylor-Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Limited Edition 17 Year Old Barrel Proof 56.0 abv 1980
- George T Stagg Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Limited Edition 16 Year Old Barrel Proof 57.0 abv 1981
- Buffalo Springs Kentucky Rye Mash Whiskey Limited Edition 15 Year Old Barrel Proof 62.5 abv 1982
The project was the initiative of The Classic Kentucky Bourbon Company, a subsidiary of United Distillers (UD) in 1997. At the time, UD owned the Bernheim Distillery and Stitzel-Weller. On the point of The Rare American Whiskey Selection project receiving approval for launch, UD merged with another company, International Distillers & Vinters to create United Distillers & Vintners, forming the spirits division of Diageo. At this point the project was shelved, never to be revived.
The original premise of the Rare American Whiskey Selection project was to create an annual release of five very different barrel proof, high age statement whiskies. The project got as far as bottling 2 examples of each of the selected whiskeys, with prototype labels, but filled with the actual liquid to show the finished product as it would be sold. The whiskeys were tasted not just within UD, but also by respected industry critics at the time (see tasting notes by Dave Broom below from 1997).
The 2 sets of liquid were split up and, ironically, one set was sent to the Stitzel-Weller distillery for safekeeping, while the other set remained at the company HQ in the UK for the European market (hence the 70cl bottle size). It is believed that the set at the SW distillery were destroyed in the distillery fire, making this set the only one that still remains in existence.
This series of whiskeys, initially to be released in a limited run of 6,000 bottles per release, would have been a landmark in the history of premium American Whiskey. The project would have preceded the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection by a number of years, and seen the footprint of US Whiskeys in whisk(e)y collector circles change dramatically. These bottles represent not only ultra-rare liquid from now closed distilleries, but a crucial element of the story of rare American Whiskey’s history that has until now gone untold.
Old Quaker Indiana Corn Whiskey 21 Year Old Limited Edition Barrel Proof 65.0 abv 1976
Distilled in Lawrenceberg, Indiana, ullage: very top shoulder, front label slightly worn
Original Tasting Notes by Dave Broom:
‘Pale Yellow. Fragrant and gentle with cream and clover aromas. Gentle and smooth to start, then an astringent bite which yields to mellow stweetness on the finish.’
Stitzel-Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Limited Edition 17 Year Old Barrel Proof 53.5 abv 1980
Distilled in Shivley, Kentucky, level: into neck, front label slightly worn
Taylor-Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Limited Edition 17 Year Old Barrel Proof 56.0 abv 1980
Distilled in Jackson County, Kentucky, level: into neck, front label slightly worn and raised on one side
George T Stagg Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Limited Edition 16 Year Old Barrel Proof 57.0 abv 1981
Distilled in Frankfort, Kentucky, level: bottom neck, front label slightly worn
Original Tasting Notes by Dave Broom:
‘Pungent and powerful. Lemon balm/lime zest leaning to aftershave. Clean, bitter chocolate spiciness that hits the mouth and then explodes and expands. Stunning, but not for the faint-hearted.’
Buffalo Springs Kentucky Rye Mash Whiskey Limited Edition 15 Year Old Barrel Proof 62.5 abv 1982
Distilled in Franklin County, Kentucky, level: into neck, front label slightly worn