Auction news – Sponsored by Whisky Auctioneer
Words by Joe Wilson
As we approach the end of the calendar year, this is often a time of reflection. Never has this been truer than at Whisky Auctioneer as we come to terms with the fact that after fourteen months and twenty-three auctions, our journey with Pat’s Whisk(e)y has finally come to an end. The largest private collection ever to be sold at auction, the journey was a fascinating one from start to finish, and for us a hugely rewarding one that turned a world of possibilities into reality.
One such possibility was the opportunity for us to hold our first ever auction dedicated solely to American whiskies, something we had long been looking for the right moment to do. The rise and rise of bourbon and rye as a collector’s item is something we have witnessed first-hand for many years, and Pat’s collection provided the perfect platform for us to spotlight and celebrate this story. Containing a complete archive of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, a library of Very Olde St Nick releases and a dazzling array of Van Winkle and vintage Stitzel-Weller bottlings, the auction allowed us to celebrate the American whiskey category as a whole, while spotlighting the whiskies that currently drive the most interest among collectors.
For us, the motivation for the auction was to raise the profile of collectible Bourbon and rye within our sales. While we have always had important bottles consigned with us, these understandably were overshadowed at times by the heavyweights of Speyside and the spectres of distillery closures in early 21st century Japan. We are now one year removed, and the fruits of this endeavour are finally in full bloom. Our November auction is one that contains an 80-year-old Glenlivet, but it is the selection of American whiskey that catches the eye.
A veritable hall of fame of American classics, the auction contains legendary bottlings from Van Winkle’s Old Commonwealth facility, including the first A.H. Hirsch Reserve, the rare and sought-after Twisted Spoke and the earliest version of the renowned Pappy 20-year-old. There is also a clutch of rare wheated bourbons from the Willett Family Estate, as well as other legacy-defining Kentucky Bourbon Distillers bottlings in the shape of Black Maple Hill, Old Man Winter and Very Olde St Nick. Over 100 years of history is reflected, with a 1908 Old Overholt headlining an array of 20th century greats that also includes 1940s vintages of Old Crow and Old Taylor, classic Pennsylvania rye in the shape of a 1970s bottling of Rittenhouse, and two well-aged pre-fire Kentucky bourbons from Heaven Hill.
Pat’s bourbon and rye comprised less than 10 per cent of his collection, yet its appeal was such that he described it as the heart and soul of it. Our November auction contains twice as many American bottles, but crucially, just as much significance, quality and variety. It is proof of what we have always known: that Macallan and Karuizawa may be vital organs, but American whiskey can be the heart and soul of an auction as well.
About Whisky Auctioneer
Whisky Auctioneer is the global market leader and trusted authority on the buying and selling of whisk(e)y and spirits at auction. Founded in 2013 and located in Perth, Whisky Auctioneer utilises its expertise and knowledge combined with its auction platform, to increase interest and passion in the whisk(e)y and spirits community.
Whisky Auctioneer endeavours to make the market more accessible for buyers and sellers of any background and geography. Its monthly global auctions feature the most comprehensive selection of old, rare and collectible whiskies and spirits available online.
Whisky Auctioneer became the first online auction house to sell a million-pound bottle and outperformed the nearest traditional auction house by 200 per cent in value from spirits sales in 2020, showcasing the move that whisky collectors, investors and drinkers have already made online and firmly establishing their leading position within the modern secondary whisky market.