- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Get the fine crystal glass ready. Christie’s, the leading auction house, reports that American bourbon is now an important collectible, right along with all those rare wines and exotic spirits favored by connoisseurs.

“There was a time not so long ago when it was only the finest single malt Scotch whiskies that attracted interest from collectors at the highest level, but those days are now behind us — American whiskey is now a great focus for collectors across the world,” writes Christie’s specialist Noah May, who says that a single barrel of Blade and Bow bourbon distilled in 1991 went for $95,550 at an auction in Manhattan earlier this year.

“Pre-Prohibition bourbon is arguably the area of the market that carries the highest level of interest for collectors. The importance of these pre-1920 bottles lies in the insight they offer into a unique time in American history and culture,” said Mr. May, who offers an online guide to the fine old bourbons.

What kind of prices are we talking about here? He noted that a one-gallon jug of Blue Ribbon Kentucky Whiskey Old Style Bourbon distilled in 1901 could fetch about $8,000, while a gallon of Belmont Bourbon from 1900 weighs in at about $7,000.

“The Belmont brand displayed a large bell underneath the words, ‘This Whiskey Was Mashed in Little Tubs and Distilled on the Old Fashioned Hand Made Sour Mash Plan.’ As with so many others, the arrival of Prohibition in 1920 caused the distillery — and with it a golden era of whiskey production — to be closed,” Mr. May noted.

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