A Century of American Whiskey Auction Breaks $1 Million [UPDATE]

Bourbon from Stitzel-Weller Distillery and labels carrying the Van Winkle name were the leading bottles at Whisky Auctioneer’s Century of American Whiskey auction. The auction topped $1 million, galloping past the total from Sotheby’s Thoroughbred Collection, and more than doubling the total from Pat’s Whiskey Collection Heart & Soul sale. A bidder based in the U.S. placed the highest bid at nearly $30,000 to win the Corti Brothers Van Winkle 19 year old Special Reserve 1975. It’s a substantial increase in the record price: this rarity has never previously sold for more than $10,000.

“We were confident that this curation of America’s most historic and important whiskeys would elicit a lot of interest, but the appetite for these bottles far surpassed our expectations,” said Joe Wilson, head of auction content at Whisky Auctioneer, in a statement which confirmed the auction raised £768,462, equivalent to $1,054,089. “The combination of historic significance and incredible rarity has commanded some incredible prices.” The highest placed Prohibition-era bottle was a Kentucky straight bourbon produced in 1916, the 20th most expensive bottle in the auction: $6,653 bought the pint of O.F.C. bottled in bond by The Geo. T. Stagg Company.

Top 10 Bottles From A Century of American Whiskey Auction

10. Old Weller Original 107 proof 7 year old 1.75L 1978 distilled at Stitzel-Weller
Hammer Price: $8,642

9. Black Maple Hill 23 year old Single Barrel Rye
Hammer Price: $9,876

8. Pappy Van Winkle 23 year old Family Reserve Gold Wax First Release
Hammer Price: $10,288

7. Van Winkle 16 year old 1974 90 proof
Hammer Price: $11,248

6. Van Winkle 16 year old 1974  90 proof
Hammer Price: $11,552

5. Van Winkle 16 year old 1974 Family Reserve
Hammer Price: $13,305

4. Van Winkle 17 year old 1974 Family Reserve
Hammer Price: $13,305

3. Very Old Fitzgerald 6 year old 1960 Bottled In Bond (Distilled at Stitzel-Weller) 100-proof gallon with cradle
Hammer Price: $15,774

2. Twisted Spoke 16 year old (Distilled at Stitzel-Weller)
Hammer Price: $18,518

1. Corti Brothers Van Winkle 19 year old 1975 Special Reserve (Distilled at Stitzel-Weller)
Hammer Price: $29,491

For the avoidance of doubt, this auction clarifies the most important and collectible names in American whiskey. Whisky Auctioneer set out to bring enthusiasts the widest range from the past 100 years, from early pre-Prohibition-era pints, mid-century rarities, to impossible-to-find collectibles released in recent years. Prices climbed steeply for numerous brands (see below), with the earliest releases from the Parker’s Heritage Collection producing outstanding results that surpassed recent values.
‘The record prices are testament to the current interest in bourbon and American whiskey,” said Wilson. “As interest in the sector continues to grow, we are committed to our service in making it as easy as possible for collectors to use our trusted platform to buy and sell whiskey with confidence. We are excited to see how our future plans can help to nurture and grow what is fast becoming one of the hottest segments in the secondary market.”

The Sleeping Beauty is the subject of Whisky Auctioneer’s next special sale in September, which features 470 bottles of Royal Lochnagar 1994 26 year old bottled under Diageo’s Casks of Distinction range to support the Scottish Ballet Endowment Fund. Bottle #1 will include a cask end with a Norman Edgar painting of Nicci Theis, Scottish Ballet principal dancer, as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.

Top Bids and Bottlings For Select Major Brands

(Minimum hammer price $2,000)
A.H. Hirsch
A.H. Hirsch Reserve 15 year old 1974 (1st Release)
Hammer Price: $7,819

Black Maple Hill
Black Maple Hill 23 year old Single Barrel Rye
Hammer Price: $9,876

Booker’s 7 year old (Signed by Booker Noe)
Hammer Price: $2,538

Colonel E.H. Taylor
Colonel E.H. Taylor Seasoned Wood
Hammer Price: $3,018

Eagle Rare
Eagle Rare 15 year old 1990 107 proof 
Hammer Price: $2,332

Four Roses
Four Roses 1948
Hammer Price: $2,126

Heaven Hill
Old Heaven Hill 28 year old 1991
Hammer Price: $5,761

I.W. Harper
I.W. Harper 16 year old Bottled In Bond 1917
Hammer Price: $3,704

Jefferson’s Presidential Select
Jefferson’s Presidential Select 17 year old 1991 (Batch 5)
Hammer Price: $2,126

Michter’s 25 year old Bourbon (2020 Release)
Hammer Price: $8,367

Old Crow
Old Crow 1962
Hammer Price: $2,743

Old Fitzgerald
Very Old Fitzgerald 6 year old 1960 Bottled In Bond (Distilled at Stitzel-Weller) 100-proof gallon with cradle
Hammer Price: $15,774

Old Forester
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2012 Release)
Hammer Price: $2,333

Old Grand-Dad
Old Grand-Dad 1917 Bottled in Bond
Hammer Price: $3,155

Old Overholt
Overholt 1908 Rye
Hammer Price: $6,310

Parker’s Heritage Collection
Parker’s Heritage Collection 1996 Cask Strength (2007 release, 1st Release)
Hammer Price: $4,801

Rittenhouse Rye
Rittenhouse 20 year old 1974 Straight Rye
Hammer Price: $6,447

Sazerac Rye 18 year old (Fall 2008)
Hammer Price: $2,400

Olde St. Nick
Very Old St. Nick  25 year old 1973
Hammer Price: $6,310

Van Winkle
Corti Brothers Van Winkle Special Reserve 19 year old 1975 (Distilled at Stitzel-Weller)
Hammer Price: $29,491

Weller’s Antique Reserve 10 year old 1965
Hammer Price: $7,407

WhistlePig The Boss Hog The Samurai Scientist
Hammer Price: $3,498

Wild Turkey
Russell’s Reserve Barrel Proof 2002
Hammer Price: $2,887

Willett Family Estate 22 year old Wheated Bourbon Single Barrel (C14D)
Hammer Price: $8,093