An intact bottle of Irish whiskey from 1916 is expected to fetch a seriously pretty penny when it goes to auction on April 6.
Photo via Flickr user ebarney
Fancy yourself a whiskey enthusiast? Turn your nose up at Fireball, and balk at the thought of mixing some drugstore ginger ale into your rye?
And what better way to show the savviness of your taste than with the sophistication of age? Aged whiskey, that is. Maybe your liquor cabinet is replete with bottles of Yamazaki 12 Year Single Malt, Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve 15 Year Bourbon, Glenlivet 18 Year Scotch. But hell—that's child play. A true whiskey-lover would have bottles that date back not just to the era of the Backstreet Boys, but to a time before Prohibition.
Maybe that's the argument that can be made in regards to a rare, century-old bottle of Irish whiskey that will be auctioned off on April 6 in Dublin.
Considered to be one of the oldest remaining bottles of whiskey of its kind, the bottle of Allman's Pot Still Irish whiskey was bottled in 1916 at a distillery called Nuns Island in Galway for one Captain R.E. Palmer, with the whiskey itself made by Allman's Bandon Distillery in West Cork. Both distilleries, unsurprisingly, are long gone. But as Metallica would say, the memory remains.
The centenarian whiskey resurfaced last year at a London auction, where it was picked up by a collector named Willie Murphy who is now its part-owner. According to Murphy, there are even older bottles of Irish whiskey out there, but this particular bottle has a rather cool tale behind it.
As described in its Adams listing, the bottle was "strangely proximate to the turbulent politics of its age." The owner of the Allman's distillery, Richard Allman, was a Liberal MP (member of Parliament) during the time of Ireland fighting for governmental independence as Charles Stewart Parnell gained traction for his Home Rule movement. The distillery was founded in 1826, and in 1886, was described by English journalist Alfred Barnard as "the most successful rural distillery in Ireland," with the second-largest malting facility in the country behind Guinness. It survived the Irish potato famine, gained a massive following in Scotland, and was one of the first distilleries to use imported sherry-seasoned casks from Cadiz, which is now considered common practice in whiskey-making. But the triple punch of World War I, Prohibition, and increased competition from other distilleries eventually closed the Bandon distillery in 1925, and the last shares of Allman's were sold off in 1939.
With whiskey back in vogue again in the early 21st century, many whiskey-makers are keen on emulating antiquated styles—including Irish single pot still whiskey, of which this pricey bottle is a prime example. Single pot still whiskey is characterized by being made with green unmalted barley and batch-distilled in a pot still; consider it the heritage stuff that brings a tear to the eye of suspendered, mustachioed whiskey-makers around the world.
The bottle is expected to fetch between 6,000 and 10,000 euros at auction on April 6, the equivalent of US $6,825 to $11,392, according to Adams. But the Irish Times estimates that it could go for more like 15,000 euros, equal to more than $17,000.
Sure, it's a hefty price to pay. But didn't you say you loved whiskey? Some might call this bottle priceless.
As for what it might taste like at this point… well, that's not mentioned in the listing. And maybe for good reason.