The Uncommon American Whiskey Choice

It’s a forgotten piece of whiskey’s previous, from again within the Nineteen Nineties, dropped at gentle by an public sale held on April 14th at Sotheby’s in New York. The merchandise was a group of ultra-aged, ultra-premium American whiskeys known as The Uncommon American Whiskey Choice, conceived as an annual sequence by one of many largest corporations within the enterprise. On the time it was an uncommon idea in American whiskey, to say the least.

The thought got here from United Distillers, a forerunner to Diageo. Along with its prowess in scotch, the corporate had sizable holdings in American whiskey, together with the acquired property of Schenley, Glenmore, and Stitzel Weller. However within the late Eighties and early ’90s, American whiskey was in a sorry state. A era of younger drinkers had turned up its nostril at brown spirits, favoring imported vodka and California chardonnay—and leaving whiskey corporations desperately searching for options to the issue.

United Distillers thus created a luxurious subsidiary known as The Basic Kentucky Bourbon Firm, hoping to alter folks’s attitudes about whiskey. The unit’s first venture was The Uncommon American Whiskey Choice—an annual launch of 5 totally different barrel proof, ultra-aged whiskeys with an inaugural run of 6,000 bottles. The whiskeys included on this first version have been to be from the age-old distilleries of Previous Quaker, Stitzel Weller, George T. Stagg, Taylor Williams, and Buffalo Springs, with age statements that ranged between 15 and 21 years.

It was an idea forward of its time. Previous to the launch, the corporate bottled two prototype units of this assortment. One was despatched to company headquarters in London, and the opposite was stored at Stitzel Weller Distillery in Kentucky. Every little thing was set to roll when within the spring of 1997, United Distillers father or mother firm Guinness introduced plans for a mega-merger with Grand Metropolitan to type Diageo. The Uncommon American Whiskey Choice initiative was shelved, and it was by no means revived.

Had this venture seen the sunshine of day, it will have created a landmark second within the historical past of American whiskey. Its launch would have pre-dated the Buffalo Hint Vintage Assortment by a number of years. It most actually would have reworked the profile of American whiskey within the world public sale market, rocketing it to a lofty standing it has achieved solely within the final couple of years. It would even have created sufficient buzz to assist reignite your entire American whiskey scene, effectively earlier than the fashionable renaissance obtained underway.

The prototype assortment stored at Stitzel Weller is believed to have been destroyed in a hearth, leaving the set at Diageo headquarters as the one one in existence. This previous week, Sotheby’s put that assortment up for public sale. It bought for 15 instances its pre-sale estimate, reaching a price of $187,245 (together with premiums) and setting a brand new document for an American whiskey sale. After a three-way bidding battle, an American non-public collector emerged because the winner. The remainder of us will probably be left to think about what might need been.
Listed below are the names, ages, and distillation dates of the whiskeys in The Uncommon American Whiskey Choice, simply bought by Sotheby’s. Whereas a few of these names received’t be acknowledged by modern-day drinkers as belonging to Diageo, at one level in historical past all of them did not directly, by way of a sequence of acquisitions within the Eighties and Nineteen Nineties.

  • Previous Quaker Indiana Corn Whiskey 21 12 months previous Restricted Version Barrel Proof (distilled in 1976), 65% ABV
  • Taylor & Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Restricted Version 17 12 months previous Barrel Proof (distilled in 1980), 56% ABV
  • Stitzel-Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Restricted Version 17 12 months previous Barrel Proof (distilled in 1980), 53.5% ABV
  • George T Stagg Kentucky Straight Rye Restricted Version 16 12 months previous Barrel Proof (distilled in 1981), 57% ABV
  • Buffalo Springs Kentucky Rye Mash Restricted Version 15 12 months previous Barrel Proof (distilled in 1982), 62.5% ABV

In regards to the Distilleries of the Above Whiskeys

•Previous Quaker Distillery was proper subsequent door to Seagram (in the present day’s MGP) in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. It was owned by Schenley for a time, and Schenley was acquired by United Distillers (Diageo) in 1987, so United Distillers doubtless had a provide of Previous Quaker in its warehouses.

•Stitzel Weller in Shively, Kentucky was acquired from the Van Winkles by a forerunner firm of United Distillers/Diageo within the early Nineteen Seventies.

•Taylor & Williams Distillery (additionally in Shively) was owned by Glenmore, which additionally was acquired by UD/Diageo in 1991.

•Stagg, in the present day’s Buffalo Hint Distillery, was owned by Schenley for a time, so UD doubtless ended up with some Stagg stock after its Schenley deal.

•Buffalo Springs Distillery was based in 1868 in Georgetown, Kentucky, simply exterior Lexington, and closed a century later. It too turned a part of Schenley. A part of its bodily construction in Georgetown in the present day is an inn of the identical title, Buffalo Springs Distillery.

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