A new auction record was set for American whisky Pappy Van Winkle when a bottle of 23 Year Old Family Reserve was sold for US$52,500 – more than seventeen times the pre-sale estimate (est. $3,000-4,000) by Sotheby’s in New York.
Two collectors battled against each other to win the coveted bottle of their dreams, pushing the final sale price ever higher. Released in 2008, the whiskey was presented for sale with its original black velvet bag.
All 14 of the individual bottles of Pappy Van Winkle on offer sold for sums in excess of their high estimates, achieving a combined total of US$396,250 (est. US$31,000-44,000). Individual records were also set for the Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old (US$9,375) and 20 Year Old (US$27,500).
The lots formed part of Whisky & Whiskey | Seasonal Spirits and The Yamazaki 55, which brought a total of US$1,786,625, surpassing pre-sale expectations (est. US$885,050 – 1,302,050). This year has seen sales of whisky at Sotheby’s in New York double, from US$5.4 million in 2021 to US$11.9 million in 2022.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Head of Whisky & Spirits, North America and EMEA, said: “It was exciting to be on the rostrum conducting the sale for this record-breaking bottle, which went far beyond anyone’s expectations. The auction marked a remarkable end to a year that has seen prices soar for American whiskey at Sotheby’s.”
Few names are more significant in the world of American whiskey than that of Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle. Synonymous with enthusiasts, whiskeys bottled under the Van Winkle brand have gone on to become amongst the most highly rated and sought-after, gathering an almost cult-like following. Many of those were distilled at the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery, opened on Derby Day in 1935, which went on to create some of the finest and most sought-after bourbons ever produced before its closure in the early 1990s, with production moving to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort.
The Old Rip Van Winkle brand was originally created before Prohibition, but it was not until 1972 that it was reintroduced following the repeal. The brand encompasses many of the most highly rated, collectible bourbon and rye whiskeys ever bottled.