Christie’s pre-Prohibition whiskeys ‘smash’ forecastsBy Melita Kiely
A collection of pre-Prohibition American whiskey, Scotch and Cognac proved to be highly coveted at auction as numerous lots “smashed through” pre-sale estimates.
Christie’s held the auction in New York on Friday (7 December), which featured a collection of 100-year-old pre-Prohibition whiskey belonging to Jean-Baptiste Leonis.
The 40 cases of unopened bonded whiskey, distilled as early as 1914, were discovered in 2017 on the west coast of America in secret vaults built by banker Leonis in the early 1920s. The bank vaults, sealed with a combination lock, were built behind bookcases.
The collection included pint bottles of Hermitage whiskey distilled in 1914, Old Crow distilled in 1912 and Biltmore Rye Maryland bottles destined for the famous Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel, as well as “ancient” Cognacs and “rare” Macallan Scotch whiskies.
Many lots surpassed their pre-auction estimates, including nine quarts of H. Beam Old Style Brookhill Sour Mash 1912, which fetched US$26,950 against a low pre-sale estaimate of US$3,800.
Five quartz of Hermitage Pure Rye Whiskey WA Gaines 1908, sold for US$22,050; 12 quarts of Old Crow Bourbon 1912 sold for US$22,050; and 24 pints of Hermitage Whiskey Bottled in Bond 9 Years Old 1914 fetched US$23,275.
A bottle of Macallan Millennium managed to achieve an auction price of US$34,300.
Chris Munro, head of wine department, Americas, said: “Both of our featured collections of Madeira and pre-Prohibition American whiskey witnessed exceptional results.
“Clients from throughout the United States and around the globe fought to acquire these exceptionally rare lots.
“The sale was a watershed moment for these incredibly rare and sought-after American whiskeys as hammer prices smashed through our pre-sale estimates.”