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Gangster Bourbon set for auction at Bonhams

Two rare Bourbon demijohns favoured by pre-Prohibition gangsters will go under the hammer at Bonhams in New York later this month.

Gangster-Bourbon-auction
Two Bourbon demijohns from the pre-prohibition era are readied for auction at Bonhams later this month

Part of the auction house’s Whisky, Cognac & Rare Spirits on 30 April, the two bottlings are expected to fetch US$2,500-US$3,000 each.

Both demijohns contain approximately three gallons of Bourbon and are sourced from Chicago liquor purveyors Chapin & Gore, whose bars were frequented by writer Mark Twain and showman Buffalo Bill Cody.

The store’s proprietors Gardner Spring Chapin and James Jefferson Gore became local legends when they rolled several hundred barrels of rye and Bourbon into Lake Michigan during the great Chicago Fire of 1871.

These particular demijohns come from barrels made for 19th century explorer and American general, Zebulon Pike.

The Bonhams auction will also feature a five-gallon carboy of Hannisville Rye, distilled in the 1860s and bottled around 1913, which is believed to be from the barrels purchased by John Welsh, minister to England in the 1870s.

Other Bourbons set to feature in the auction include a number of bottles from Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and Pappy Van Winkle lines.

A presentation set of 23-year-old Bourbon in a crystal decanter with two accompanying crystal glasses in a leather lined cherry wood case is expected to fetch US$3000-US$4000.

Bidders will have the opportunity to vie for over 800 lots of whisky, Bourbon, rye, Cognac and other rare spirits at the auction.

Notable offerings include a 40-year-old 1961 Macallan, estimated to fetch US$8,000-US$10,000, and late 19th to early 20th century bottles of Jim Old Hermitage, Chivas Regal and Johnny Walker.

Expected to fetch the highest bids at the auction is one of the oldest authenticated Cognac vintages in existence, a 1762 Gautier, which is estimated to bring US$20,000-US$25,000.

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