Bourbon Industry

Could this be the rarest bottle of Pappy? Here’s how you could own it.

Bottle No. 10 of Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old Bourbon, valued at $10,000, will be auctioned on Sept. 21 by the Speed Museum.
Bottle No. 10 of Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old Bourbon, valued at $10,000, will be auctioned on Sept. 21 by the Speed Museum.

Later this month, the Speed Art Museum in Louisville will hold its inaugural “Art of Bourbon” auction to raise money. And they have a lineup that includes some of the rarest bourbons of the modern era.

Among them:

The 10th bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. This bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old Bourbon was given to the current owner by Julian Van Winkle, Pappy’s grandson and the one who revived the brand by bottling this whiskey in 1998 in Lawrenceburg before the brand moved to Buffalo Trace Distillery. According to the museum, bottles No. 7, 8 and 9 have been consumed. And the Van Winkle family owns Nos. 1-5. This bottle is valued at $20,000, Speed says.

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This bottle from 1952 was bottled by Albert B. Blanton for his 55th anniversary. Blanton, who is considered the father of the “single barrel” release, dies in 1959. Photo provided

A bottle of Albert B. Blanton, bottled in 1952 for Blanton’s 55th anniversary from barrels hand-selected by distilling icon Blanton at the George T. Stagg Distillery, now known as Buffalo Trace. Speed said this bottle is 7-year-old bourbon and has a Kentucky tax stamp, suggesting it may have entered the retail market. According to the museum, this bottle comes from the granddaughter of a former Stagg Distillery employee; Blanton died in 1959, so this bottle is beyond rare. It is valued at $10,000, according to the release.

A bottle of 7-year-old Stitzel-Weller Original, bottled about 1965. According to the museum, this bottle was made for John Wellburn Brown, a prominent life insurance company executive. Bourbon experts know Stitzel-Weller as the origin of the whiskey that became Pappy. This bottle is valued at $5,000, according to the museum.

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This rare bottle of Stitzel-Weller bourbon, valued at $5,000, will be auctioned by the Speed Museum. Photo provided


King of Kentucky, a limited release from Brown-Forman, which offered only 960 bottles of this “revival” of the old label with a 14-year-old bourbon. Priced at $200 when released this spring, it already was the most expensive bourbon Brown-Forman ever released. Now this bottle is valued at $1,200, according to the museum.

Other bottles and special bourbon experiences, including private tours and barrel selections, also will be will offered.

“Collectors have the opportunity to buy and taste history,” said Fred Minnick, bourbon author, in the release.

Minnick is curating the auction. “We’ve secured an enviable inventory of rare and unique bourbons and bourbon-related experiences. I plan to bid on a few myself.”

The auction will be online and live. For tickets to the evening event at the museum, including dinner and bourbon tastings, go to speedmuseum.org/events/. Tickets are $250 per person. To bid online, go here: bit.ly/2QmSe2D.

In this episode of Unboxing the Bourbon, Sally Scherer, Josh Moore and Janet Patton test out a new Brown-Forman bourbon called the King of Kentucky. It will be released in June and will be a hard find. (Music: www.bensound.com)

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