THE ART OF BOURBON FROM THE SPEED ART MUSEUM IN LOUISVILLE UNVEILS A RARE
This year’s ‘Art of Bourbon’ shelves are lined with a historically significant 8-year-old Booker’s bottled in 1987; the unobtainable and highly collectible Blanton’s 1992; the enviable King Of Kentucky 2020 bottle; a 7-year-old Gold Vein Old Weller from the 1970s; a 14-year-old Dowling Deluxe bottled in the 1970s; as well as several exclusive experiences that allow winning bidders to get their custom barrel straight from the source.
The live auction will take place from 7:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. EST. The online portion of the auction is free, but registration is required at artofbourbon.org. Tickets to the in-person Art of Bourbon event, which cost $300, include a cocktail reception, bourbon tastings, and a sit-down dinner with a bourbon-inspired menu. In-person seating is limited, and organizers encourage guests to purchase tickets well in advance.
2022’s jaw-dropping lineup — comprised of rare bourbons, “dusts,” and VIP experiences — may be the best yet. These bottles illustrate how sought after many of these brands have become because they represent a once forgotten era of American whiskey that is making a comeback.
Here is a taste of what awaits you among the 38 prizes:
- Booker’s 8 year old bottled in 1987 – Widely considered and heralded as a bourbon game-changer when it was made, this rare, small-batch Booker’s bottle is one of those bottles that Booker Noe himself – Master Distiller and a sixth-generation Beam – gave away to special friends before the whiskey was launched in 1988. It is hand signed by Noe and numbered #832. Barreled in 1979 and aged seven years, the bourbon is uncut and bottled straight from the barrel.
- Blanton’s 1992 – The Original Single Barrel Bourbon. Dropped 07/14/1992 from barrel no. 90, warehouse H, on rick no. 11 and bottled at 93 proof. Has the famous bronze topper. Highly collectible, it is considered one of the best bourbons made in the 20th century.
- 2020 King of Kentucky Cannon 6 – This bottle of brown water magic happens to be included with several other premium bottles alongside the Hermitage Farm VIP experience. The entire package includes thoroughbred tours, VIP bourbon tastings, an evening at Barn8 Restaurant, and a night at the historic smokehouse on a famous property.
- A 7 Year Old Gold Vein Old Weller from the 1970s, 107 proof – The predecessor to what we now call Weller Antique, is a 7 year old bourbon that comes in the iconic gold vein bottle. It was produced at the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery in the 1970s and remains one of the most sought after bourbons in the world. Each bottle is individually numbered and is a one-of-a-kind collectible.
- Dowling Deluxe, a 14 year old (bottled in the 1970s) – From a name that was once as powerful as any in American whiskey, the Dowlings backed the bad pony when they started making Mexican bourbon during Prohibition. This bottle represents a time when their name still meant something to the whiskey drinker and the family was looking to rebrand, of sorts, in the 1970s. Now an almost forgotten family, the Dowlings were excellent makers of whiskey and this bottle represents the gift of what they had to offer at the time. A piece of whiskey history.
- 1905 Overholt Rye from the Richard & Andrew Mellon estate – So elusive it’s considered the unicorn of whiskeys and has enough power to appeal to the most serious collectors. It remains today one of the highest rated, most sought after whiskeys known. “A 1.5 ounce pour will cost you $1,000, and that’s even if you can get it,” Minnick said. In many ways, the provenance of Overholt Rye rivals the contents of the bottle:
- Andrew Mellon purchased one-third of the Overholt Distillery from Henry Clay Frick, the founder’s grandson. Frick and Mellon, two wealthy Golden Age industrialists, were lifelong friends. On his death in 1919, Frick bequeathed his shares to Mellon who became the majority owner of the distillery.
- Before Prohibition in 1920, Mellon and his brothers stored the best barrels of rye from the previous 15 years. Later, Mellon was forced to sell his share in the distillery after being appointed US Treasury Secretary.
- During Prohibition, the Mellon brothers bottled some for personal use, eventually bottling the remaining casks when Prohibition ended.
- Richard Mellon Scaife, billionaire publisher of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, inherited from rye. In 2014, after Scaife’s death, a wine cellar was discovered containing around 60 cases of Overholt Rye from 1904-1912.
- Old Forester Bourbon Anniversary 2015 and 2016. Sold at auction in pairs – The 2015 vintage had an unusually long fermentation of 6 days; the resulting alcohol once casked matured in the same warehouse location, near a window and near a thermal cycle duct, exposing the casks to very high temperatures. This resulted in extremely robust and intense wood-derived characteristics. The 2016 Anniversary Bourbon Cask Selection commemorates the 15th anniversary of the very first release. Unlike various previous selections, where barrels came from different warehouses and/or floors/locations within a warehouse, the 2016 version uniquely matured together on the same floor in the same warehouse, giving it a deep, rich oak personality. .
- BPR Rye Bottled in Bond, bottled in 1942 – AKA Baltimore Pure Rye, is a blast from the past. Marketed as the biggest independent brand of the 1940s and 1950s, BPR often chastised competitors in the marketplace for sourcing whiskey instead of distilling it themselves. This bottle, however, is a tie to the days when people cared about authenticity and good Maryland rye. It’s a piece of history, a connection to when Maryland’s historic distilling culture was still very much alive.
- Van Winkle 12 years, lot B, gifted and signed by Julian Van Winkle. It’s Grandpa. Enough said.
- Bourbon experiences, including the highly anticipated Maker’s Mark Private Selection Experience, – The winner and 4 friends will travel to the Maker’s Mark Distillery for a private tour and ultimately the group will create an entire barrel of their own Maker’s Mark expression. When the barrel matures nine weeks later, their bourbon will be bottled, with labels bearing their name and a select stave recipe, and they will receive the full bottling. This bundle features a one-of-a-kind stained glass artwork by artist Neile Cooper.
Online auctions are attracting interest from serious bourbon enthusiasts and connoisseurs around the world. Bourbon experts say it’s a toss-up on which lot will command the most and steal the show. The event is organized with the support of the wall street journal-Bestselling author and renowned bourbon critic Fred Minnick.
“Since 2018, I have worked closely with the Speed to auction the rarest whiskey bottles and experiences ever, raising over $1 million for this institution,” Minnick said. All proceeds support educational programs and exhibits at Speed.
Minnick, widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on bourbon, watches many of these batches closely, knowing that these offerings can make a difference. “These rare whiskeys can have a huge impact on one of our country’s top art museums. We have the vintage and the rare, and the new and the unique. These kind of well-known bourbons don’t come around very often,” he said.
Collectors particularly turn to the Art of Bourbon for dusts, which are old bottles of whiskey that have not been produced for years. “It’s not every day you can get your hands on it. You’re buying a piece of history in a bottle,” said Marc Abrams, a Louisville-based bourbon collector and co-founder of BourbonX, who also donated much of his prized brown water for sale to the auction.
“On September 22, collectors have the opportunity to buy and taste history, and this auction creates those opportunities,” said Abrams, one of several bourbon experts hosting the auction.
Speed takes its share of angel
In addition to bourbon, the Speed Art Museum will serve another rarity, and it has nothing to do with “dusty bottles.” The biggest heavyweights in the industry will participate in the Art of Bourbon.
Guests will gather under the museum’s Beaux-Arts roof and mingle with master distillers, members of old-guard bourbon families, distillery executives, and founders of new distilleries that have sprung up on and off Kentucky. Bourbon Trail. Prominent collectors from across the country show their support by attending or donating bottles from their stash to this event.
“The Speed Art Museum, Kentucky’s largest and oldest art museum, is proud to host this first national nonprofit bourbon auction,” said museum director Raphaela Platow. . “For one night only, Speed will rival the best bourbon bars in the country so that year-round we can share the best art in the world with all Kentucky people.”
Proceeds from the event support the arts institution’s education programs and exhibitions. Bill Menish will be the evening’s auctioneer. To view the auction catalog and purchase event tickets: artofbourbon.org.
About the Speed Art Museum
The Speed Art Museum, in Louisville, Kentucky, is an independent encyclopedic museum, and the oldest and largest art museum in the state, where our mission is to invite everyone to celebrate art for all time. Established in 1927 by philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed, the museum has undergone several renovations and expansions, now occupying more than 200,000 square feet on the University of Louisville campus. The Speed serves as a cultural hub where people can connect with each other and the work of artists from around the world in new and unexpected ways. Learn more at www.speedmuseum.org.
Booker’s 8 Year Old, bottled in 1987, is one of 38 lots in the September 22 Art of Bourbon auction
Blanton’s 1992 is a highlight of this year’s Art of Bourbon