A.H. Hirsch Reserve 1974 16 Year Old Bourbon / pre-2003 Gold Wax
A legendary bottle of bourbon that has had a whole book written about itself: The Best Bourbon You'll Never Taste by Charles K Cowdery.
Distilled in Spring 1974, this bourbon is bottled from a single 400 barrel batch commissioned by Adolph H. Hirsch and distilled under contract at Michter's distillery (then known as Pennco), just outside Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania. Hirsch was a former Schenley executive who had dealings with Michter's during his time there, and it is believed he commissioned the whiskey as financial favour to the distillery, and actually had little plans for its use. So, it lay ageing in the warehouses for much longer than generally expected for a bourbon at the time.
When Michter’s distillery finally closed in 1989, Hirsch was well into his nineties, and rather than engage in exigency of rehoming what no longer served its purpose to him, he instead sought to find a buyer for it. Fearing the arduous task of finding a buyer for what was considered an “over-aged” batch of whiskey, Hirsch was fortunate in that one of his old Schenley contacts called Bob Gottesman knew a man in Kentucky who was looking for exactly that, Gordon Hue.
Responsibility for the early bottling was entrusted to Julian Van Winkle III at his Old Commonwealth site in Lawrenceburg. However, his creation of the Pappy Van Winkle brand and subsequent partnership with the Sazerac Company in 2002 also saw bottling of the Hirsch Reserve moved briefly to Buffalo Trace. This is one of Van Winkle's last Lawrenceburg bottlings, from the early 2000s. Van Winkle's ledgers show that he was drip-fed orders for the Hirsch Reserve, and only produced limited case numbers to order when requested by Hue. This has lead to a variety of different bottlings at different ages. This is the second batch of the A.H. Hirsch Reserve bottled as a 16 year old, and is affectionately known as the "Gold Wax." The same label was used by Buffalo Trace for the 2003 release, although that time featured a gold foil seal. Van Winkle was a fan of the dripping wax aesthetic, but this was a registered trademark of Maker's Mark in the US. He commonly used the motif on special export releases for a markets where this law did not apply.
Gordon Hue, who had maintained exclusive distribution rights to the Hirsch product despite the Van Winkle and Sazerac connections, eventually sold the brand to Preiss Imports who moved the subsequent and final bottling (technically re-bottling) to Kentucky Bourbon Distillers' Willett facility.
In his book Cowdery refers to the bourbon as one of the "best whiskeys I've ever tasted."
Mash bill contains 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley.
We would recommend viewing/close inspection prior to placing any bids. If this is not an option and you have questions beyond the offered description and images, please contact us for a more in-depth condition report. Otherwise lots will be sold as seen in the images.
Please note: Due to the various ages of bottles and their seals, condition of liquid is at the buyer's discretion and no claim can be lodged against failure/leakage in transit.