Rare Private Label Van Winkle Up For Auction In Landmark Sale At Whisky Auctioneer

One of the most rare and celebrated private label bourbons, the Van Winkle 1975 Special Reserve 19 Year Old for Corti Brothers, is currently up for auction in a landmark sale.

In fact, the last time this type of bottle was sold at auction, it broke the world record for a Van Winkle bottle, reaching a hammer price on Whisky Auctioneer for £21,500 ($29,482.88).

The auction is currently taking at http://www.whiskyauctioneer.com/ through May 23, and presents more than 600 rare and collectible American whiskeys.

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Whisky Auctioneer’s Joe Wilson examining the Pappy Van Winkle 1984 Family Reserve 23 Year Old Single Barrel selected by the Kentucky Barrel Society (image via Whisky Auctioneer)

Featured are more than 60 exclusively selected barrel picks, as the auction celebrates what’s described as the emergence of private barrel selections, a pivotal move in the growth of collectible American whiskey.

Other highlights of the auction include private barrel selects such as the Pappy Van Winkle 1984 Family Reserve 23-Year-Old Single Barrel selected by the Kentucky Barrel Society. This rare single barrel bottling was distilled at the Stitzel-Weller distillery in 1984.

Joe Wilson, head curator and spirits specialist at Whisky Auctioneer, explained the history and importance of this collection.

“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,” he said.

“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,” Wilson noted. “These historic bottlings have garnered coveted status among whiskey collectors. Not only have their older bourbon selections gained a legendary reputation for their flavor, but each expression also benefits from the cachet of its rarity. As people not only want to engage with the modern private barrel programs, but study its incredible history within the industry, we expect these to be highly sought-after 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 labeled for Berghoff, a famous German restaurant in Chicago;
  • Several private selections of the ‘Very Old Fitzgerald’ with distillation dates back to 1954.

The auction also features modern private barrel selects from Four Roses, Elijah Craig, Smooth Ambler and Buffalo Trace.

Fred Minnick, whiskey author and historian, said, “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.”

Minnick noted that the growth in barrel picking has been 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,” he said. “They represent a time when people had free reign in warehouses to select their ultimate flavor 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.”

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