The Speed Art Museum unveiled a stunning lineup for its online and live, in-person Art of Bourbon auction on September 26, featuring some of the rarest, most elusive, and sought-after whiskeys up for bid.
The live auction will be held 7:15 pm – 8:45 pm EST. Museum doors open at 6 p.m. EST. The online auction is free to bid, but registration is required at artofbourbon.org.
Here are the auction highlights served up:
The exceedingly rare George T. Stagg sits at the crossroads of bourbon history. By all accounts, this is a very special bottle owing to its backstory. This 16-year-old expression, distilled before 1917 and bottled in 1928, was produced at the George T. Stagg Company under Colonel Albert Blanton’s new leadership. The bottle comes in a patented tamper-proof container of the time. Take notice: this extremely rare box is Four Roses, but the bottle is George T. Stagg. The common link is the iconic Albert Blanton, whose namesake dons the famous Blanton’s bottle today. Blanton used this tamper-proof packaging for more than just the Stagg releases. In fact, his name is plastered on a few of them that have surfaced for auction. That said, he used this box to secure the bottles. Little did he know then, it would preserve the whiskey inside, protecting it from sunlight and outside vapors. The bottle is in pristine condition. Estimate: $20,000 – $30,000
Not just a Pappy 23-year-old.The Pappy. A prized unicorn among all spirits, not just bourbon. This is from the first batch of Pappy 23-Year-Old ever produced. This 1998 bottle is the first year Julian Van Winkle III went to market with the 23-year-old, with its tell-tale green-tinted glass and brandishing a gold wax top that’s no longer made. This one is the auction’s unicorn. It was bottled in 1998 and made its formal debut that year. Estimate: $30,000
A 20-year-old A.H. Hirsch literally disappeared from the liquor shelves more than a quarter of a century ago. This bottle represents a piece of history frozen in time. Distilled in 1974 and produced at the old Michter’s Distillery, it’s widely considered one of the best bourbons ever produced. Estimate: $20,000
AnI.W. Harper Rye, a Prohibition-era dusty bottle produced at the famed Bernheim Distillery. Not only is it unusual for being a product of Prohibition, it is one of the few IW Harper Ryes you will find at any age. Distilled in 1917 and bottled in 1927. Estimate: $6,000 – $8,000
In-person event tickets, which are $300, include a cocktail hour, bourbon tastings and a seated dinner with a bourbon-inspired menu. Seating is limited, and guests are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.
Among the 35 lots, the auction includes exclusive and illusive experiences that allow winning bidders to get an entire custom barrel straight from the source:
- Rabbit Hole Distillery select barrel pick – Your Heigold Bourbon comes in the distillery’s highly coveted, limited-edition series of bottles. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland characters have been reimagined in bottles with six labels. Estimate: $25,000 – $30,000
- Bardstown Bourbon Company barrel selection – One of the first 100 barrels produced in the Origin Series single barrel release. The Origin Series represents the first whiskeys that were entirely distilled, aged and bottled at this distillery and were voted the highest-rated bourbon in the world by the International Wine & Spirits Competition. Estimate: $20,000
- The much-anticipated Green River Barrel selection experience is one of the hot new bourbons in the industry. Estimate: $20,000
Now in its sixth year, the annual bourbon auction draws serious bourbon aficionados, collectors from around the globe, and those who view it as a passionate spectator sport.