American Whisky Auction at Whisky Auctioneer with Pappy Van Winkle, Willett Family Estate and Corti Brothers Van Winkle Whisky Auctioneer Shines a Light on World's Rarest Private Label Bourbons

Back to news

Have you been thinking that no American whiskey could be more sought after than a new 23-Year-Old Van Winkle release? You'd be forgivably mistaken - for a bottle of Van Winkle privately selected by the Corti Brothers store in Sacramento, achieves 10-times this amount at auction.

Now is the chance to bid on one of the world’s most vaunted private label bourbons, Van Winkle 1975 Special Reserve 19 Year Old for Corti Brothers. At the time of its last sale, this broke the world record price for a bottle of Van Winkle at auction.

This month, some of these highly coveted whiskeys will be offered on, including expressions that are nearly impossible for modern collectors to get their hands on today. Taking place from 13 – 23 May, the dedicated auction will present over 600 rare and collectible American whiskeys. Featuring over 60 exclusively selected barrel picks, the auction celebrates the emergence of private barrel selections, a formative stamp on the growth in collectible American whiskey. If you are new to Whisky Auctioneer and interested in taking part in this auction, please register an account.

Highlights include private barrel selects never offered at an online auction before, such as the Pappy Van Winkle 1984 Family Reserve 23 Year Old Single Barrel selected by the Kentucky Barrel Society. Incredibly rare, this is an exclusive single barrel bottling that was distilled at the Stitzel-Weller distillery in 1984. 

Joe Wilson, Whisky Auctioneer inspecting the Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old / Kentucky Barrel Society bottling


“Following on from our record-breaking American whiskey auction in 2021, this is Whisky Auctioneer’s third landmark American whiskey sale, now with a focus on one of the major catalysts behind bourbon’s modern renaissance: the rise of single barrels.


Curated from two private collections, the auction celebrates the pioneering barrel selections of connoisseurs in the 1980s that set the tone for the modern demand for private barrel picks. These historic bottlings have garnered coveted status among whiskey collectors. Not only have their older bourbon selections gained a legendary reputation for their flavour, but each expression also benefits from the cachet of its rarity.


As people not only want to engage with the modern programs but study its incredible history within the industry, we expect these to be highly sought-after at auction.”


Joe Wilson, Head Curator and Spirits Specialist, Whisky Auctioneer


Headlining the auction is also one of the world’s most vaunted private label bourbons: Van Winkle 1975 Special Reserve 19 Year Old for Corti Brothers. At the time of its last sale, this broke the world record price for a bottle of Van Winkle at auction. Other headline lots include a Willett Family Estate 1984 Single Barrel 24 Year Old Bourbon selected by Bonili in Japan, a rare collection of Stitzel-Weller bourbons privately labelled for Berghoff, a famous German restaurant in Chicago, and several private selections of the ‘Very Old Fitzgerald’ with distillation dates back to 1954. 

Also featuring modern private barrel selects from Four Roses, Elijah Craig, Smooth Ambler and Buffalo Trace, collectors will be spoiled for choice. 

Private barrel selections of the ‘Very Old Fitzgerald’ brand


“The private barrel picks presented in this collection are legendary examples that mark the emergence of the private barrel era, from the Corti Brothers Van Winkle 1975 Special Reserve to a ridiculously rare private bottling of Stitzel-Weller era Pappy Van Winkle and iconic representation from Four Roses and Maker's Mark.


The growth in barrel picking is exceptional, and interest in private picks is at an all-time high. As we begin to see distillers limiting their private barrel programs, rare picks like these will be in demand. They represent a time when people had free reign in warehouses to select their ultimate flavour profiles. These bottles are capsules in time, reflecting a bygone era, and this is one of the last opportunities to get some of these extraordinarily rare gems.”


Fred Minnick, Author, Historian and Global Authority on American whiskey


Interest in American whiskey is showing no sign of slowing down, with Whisky Auctioneer recording a 58% increase in the hammer price attributed to American Whiskeys on their platform from 2020 to 2021 alone.