A bottle of bourbon that potentially predates the Revolutionary War and the Whiskey Rebellion was the subject of intense bidding at a rare spirits auction that ended on June 30.
Touted as the oldest known whiskey in existence by auction house Skinner, the bottle was estimated to realize between $20,000 – $40,000. The predictions were shattered when an undisclosed buyer paid $137,500 for the Old Ingledew whiskey bottled in the 1860s by Evans & Ragland in La Grange, GA.
While the buyer was initially reported to be the Morgan Library by a number of media outlets (including VinePair), representatives for Skinner auction house have since definitively denied the claim, stating that the purchaser wishes to remain anonymous, and the destination of the bottle is unknown. When asked for comment, the Morgan Library confirmed to VinePair that the museum did not purchase the whiskey and has no plans to exhibit the bottle.
The liquid inside is believed to be a century older than its bottling date. Appraisers utilized carbon-14 testing conducted by extracting precious liquid with a hypodermic syringe to reveal an origin date of approximately 1763, with a high probability that the whiskey was distilled in the late 18th century.
Beyond age, the whiskey also boasts an interesting connection to the late J.P. Morgan. The bottle is adorned with a typewritten label stating “This Bourbon was probably made prior to 1865 and was in the cellars of Mr. John Pierpont Morgan from whose estate it was acquired upon his death.”
As reported by Garden & Gun, Rex Woolbright discovered the antique while rummaging through a late relative’s belongings. Research indicates that J.P Morgan purchased three identical bottles, which were passed to his son, Jack. One bottle was gifted to distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, another to Harry Truman, and the last to James Byrnes.
It was this third bottle that found its way to auction after the former congressman, Supreme Court Justice, and governor of South Carolina gave it to his neighbor and family friend, Logan Drake, who was Woolbright’s grandfather. He later told Garden & Gun that the only reason the bottle wasn’t opened and toasted away years ago is that his family preferred Scotch.
The origin of the liquid is a mystery, and now the bottle’s new owner and its destination are as well.