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Kentucky Bourbon Benefit raises $3m

A charity auction featuring rare barrels and bottles of Bourbon has raised more than US$3 million to help communities affected by the tornado outbreak in Kentucky.

Distillers across Kentucky donated rare barrels of Bourbon to the charity auction

Trade group the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) teamed up with the Bourbon Crusaders charity and Bourbon writer Fred Minnick to host a fundraising effort to support those affected by the tornado.

Proceeds from the benefit are going to the state’s Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, which has been established by governor Andy Beshear.

The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit featured an online and live auction of exclusive private barrel selection experiences, rare and vintage spirits, and tasting and tourism offerings from Kentucky’s distilling industry, and hospitality partners.

The online auction began on 16 December and ran until Tuesday 21 December, when a live-streamed auction was held at Westport Whiskey & Wine in Louisville, Kentucky.

The auction total reached US$3,429,203 as of mid-day Wednesday, the KDA said. The live-streamed auction raised US$1.77 million alone.

The KDA said the total amount raised from the benefit will continue to rise in the coming days as results are tallied, including matches from Vendome Copper & Brass, Independent Stave Company and the Kentucky Travel Industry Association. The benefit is still accepting donations and businesses can continue to match funds.

Angel’s Envy, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Diageo, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Michter’s, Rabbit Hole and Wild Turkey have donated in excess of US$1m to the state’s fund. Beam Suntory gave an additional US$500,000 to the American Red Cross.

The KDA said the donations bring the total amount raised to nearly US$5m.

“The outpouring of support, care and love for western Kentuckians is truly unparalleled in the history of Bourbon. We are forever grateful for the generosity of distillers, donors and bidders,” KDA president Eric Gregory said.

“Through this event, thousands of participants are helping lift spirits across Western Kentucky, provide new hope and create momentum for the years of rebuilding and healing ahead. This is the spirit of Kentucky shining through.”

The auction saw a total of 5,158 people bid across 429 lots.

Auction highlights

Highlights of the auction include a 19-year-old barrel of Willett, which sold for US$401,001. Another barrel from the Bardstown distillery sold for US$802,002. Willett also had the third best-selling item of the auction – an eight-year-old barrel that sold for US$143,000.

A private barrel selection from Four Roses, aged between 17 to 24 years, fetched US$278,000.

In addition, a barrel experience of cask-strength Angel’s Envy Bourbon went under the hammer for US$130,000. An Elijah Craig barrel sold for US$77,000, while Wild Turkey and New Riff private barrels went to bidders for US$45,000 and US$43,000, respectively.

A hand-engraved decanter of 23-year-old Rip Van Winkle, one of only 1,200 released in 2009 and donated by Preston Van Winkle, fetched US$44,000.

The Mayfield Collection of 14 undamaged bottles recovered from Carr’s Steakhouse in Kentucky, which was destroyed in the tornado, sold for US$69,475. Nearly all of the bottle’s brands are matching the sales prices with half of the money going to the venue’s 29 employees, many of whom have lost their homes.

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