Have you ever wondered what the whisky experts and auction curators would have their eye on at auction? Well, we asked our Head of Auction Content (and resident American Whiskey Expert) Joe Wilson to let us know! So here it is, Joe has selected five whiskeys in our live 'Heart and Soul' Auction that he would have his eye on.
Joe Wilson has worked with Whisky Auctioneer since 2017, where he has been able to combine his shared interest in heritage and history with the world of whisk(e)y. One of Joe's greatest joys at work is unearthing the unique stories behind the labels of each whiskey he encounters, in particular with bourbon - an industry notorious for shielding the hidden story of its liquid with labels and marketing. Every bottle presents a challenge to find out where the liquid was distilled, who bottled them and when. Delving into Pat's Whiskey Collection and this impressive component of bourbon and American whiskey has been an incredibly opportunity for Joe who has had a particular fascination with American whiskey for a long time.
Covering a nice variety of price-points (at the time of writing!) and a selection of different brands, including some legendary whiskeys and some real curiosities, we hope that this will be of interest to you.
Bottled by Julian Van Winkle III at Old Commonwealth, he has personally confirmed that this un-chillfiltered version was an experiment for the European market, at the request of a "French customer" (although it is more likely he was referring to Rinaldi in Italy). Un-chillfiltering is unheard of with bourbon in the US, but is generally the preference here. Van Winkle also noted that he believes this release does retain some flavours lost in the regular chillfiltered product.
Bottled at the higher strength of 100 proof, this is a particularly rare gem.
This is the 12 year old Very Very Old Fitzgerald, distilled at Stitzel-Weller in 1955 and bottled in 1967. While under his management, 'Pappy' Van Winkle refused to bottle Old Fitzgerald at anything less than the domestic requirement of 100 proof, set out by the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. When he stepped back from management in 1964 however, the board put pressure on Julian II to meet the market demand for a lighter style product. In the US, they launched the Old Fitzgerald Prime, however in export markets where the Bottled in Bond law did not apply, they were able to simply reduce the proof as is the case here.
This was a very special bottling produced for Edoardo Giaccone in Italy. Giaccone was something of a trailblazer, and was importing specially bottled official single malts for his bar in the late 1960s. He opened the famous venue in 1958, and it has been called a few different things over the years, including Garten, Edward & Edward, and La Taverna del Comandante.
The 10 year old Centennial was launched by United Distillers in 1996 as part of their Bourbon Heritage Collection. This range represented United Distillers brief excitement around bourbon before the newly formed Diageo turned its attentions elsewhere the following year. It was joined by an Old Charter, Old Fitzgerald, I.W. Harper and George Dickel. Only the latter two brands are still part of the Diageo portfolio today.
This is a rare single barrel version of the product, selected by Julio's Liquors. Actually a 13 year old, the barrel will have been distilled at Old Fitzgerald distillery (the official name for Stitzel-Weller before it reverted to its historic title in 1992).
Eagle Rare is a historic bourbon brand, originally developed by Seagram in 1975 in an effort to capitalise on what it felt were the popular marketing motifs used by Wild Turkey. Distilled at their Four Roses distillery, the recipe was devised by Charles L. Beam and was sold as a 10 year old with both a 90 and 101 proof version available. Seagram held ambitions beyond the drinks industry however, and in an effort to diversify their portfolio in the 1980s, they sold Eagle Rare along with the Benchmark brand to the Sazerac Company. They initially bottled it using barrels sourced from Heaven Hill, but later moved production to Buffalo Trace in 1992.
This is the Seagram-era version, distilled at Four Roses and bottled in 1983.
"From the brain of “mad scientist” Bryan Davis, Umami is one of the final bottlings from the original Lost Spirits distillery in Monterey County, California, which produced peated malt whiskies using peat from unusual locations such as Canadian forests and the Florida Everglades. Something a little special, this was distilled from a mash of peat smoked barely that had been fermented in ocean salt water, the first of its kind."
- Joe Wilson