Whisky is a classy beverage and it is often the case that the older the bottle, the higher it rises in price. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the world’s oldest known bottle in existence would cost an absolute fortune. The Old Ingledew Whiskey is so old that there is no record of the exact date it was bottled. Carbon-14 date testing revealed that the whisky was (with 81.1% probability) likely bottled sometime between 1763 and 1803, making it older than the printing press, the lightbulb, the telephone, the… well, you get the idea.
In terms of the whisky’s exact conception and bottling date, the label on the bottle itself offers a humourous ambivalent estimation, stating only that the whisky was likely made sometime before 1865, as there were no distilleries in the U.S. state of Georgia (the area where the whisky’s location can be first accounted for) following the end of the American Civil War in 1865. This also means it was likely made unassumingly by some Georgian farmer, as that is typically how spirits were produced at the time.
It’s furthest clear origin can be traced back to a retailer named Evans & Ragland (whose name is still labelled on the bottle) in Atlanta, where it would’ve sat on the shelves, apparently not appealing enough to customers at the time to end up in somebody’s glass. That doesn’t mean bottle didn’t get passed around before it ended up in auction last week, however, as labelling indicates that it spent some portion of its life in the cellars of famed Wall Street banker J.P. Morgan. It is believed that this interesting footnote in the whisky’s backstory might have contributed to the bottle drawing such a high price at an auction run by Skinner Auctioneers.
Speaking of that price, while it was originally expected to draw a price of around $40,000 (USD), the bottle turned out to be far more coveted than that and ended up being purchased for a whopping $137,000 USD. The auction winner has to this point remained anonymous and thus their intentions for the bottle is unknown. Will the Old Ingledew Whisky survive to see its 300th (roughly) birthday? We will have to wait and see.
All images courtesy of Skinner Auctioneers.