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Sotheby’s to host world’s ‘most valuable’ US whiskey sale

Sotheby’s is to host an auction it claims will be the world’s most valuable American whiskey auction in history, featuring two of the most significant collections ever to come to market.

The star of the milestone 750-lot Bourbon & Rye Whiskey sale, which is being held in New York on Saturday 19 March, is the American Muscle Collection of “rich and robust” US Bourbons and Rye Whiskeys from the collection of Rich “RJ” Gottlieb – so named as Gottlieb also owns the 1969 Chevrolet, the Big Red Camaro, which was nicknamed “the baddest muscle car ever”.

The collection, which Sotheby’s said was “defined by the depth and breadth of its selection”,  includes an extensive selection of Willett Family Estate barrel picks, along with numerous bottlings from Pappy Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and Black Maple Hill, and Four Roses. “It give an idea of the wealth of knowledge and prescience a collection such as this requires,” the auction house said.

Two other famous collection going under the hammer is The Three Continents Collection Part III –  comprising American Bourbon and rye whiskies from a 5,000 bottle-strong collection of Scotch, Japanese and US whiskies that has been allocated across five Sotheby’s auctions in 2021 and 2022.

The first  single owner sale from the collection, which hit the market in November 2021, doubled its pre-sale estimate to achieve $2m just for Part I.

The two collections are supported by a number of other classic bottles which includes Lanell’s Red Hook Rye, Pappy Van Winkle, Four Roses and Old Weller.

Sotheby’s spirit specialist Jonny Fowle said that the last two years had seen the beginning of a  “meteoric rise” in the secondary market for American Whiskey, which stood apart due to its “strength of character”.

“Maturing in virgin American oak barrels for years and sometimes decades, the resulting whiskeys are luxuriously rich, complex and unmistakably American,” he noted. “A muscular character can be attributed not only to this wealth of flavours but also to the high proof of the market’s most collectible bottles.

Highlights of the sale include  LeNell Red Hook Rye 23 Year Old Barrel #3 68.8 abv NV, (est. $20,000-30,000), Pappy Van Winkle Double Vertical 2020 & 2021, (est, $16,000-24,000), Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Bourbon 21 Year Old “The Wheated Patriot” 141.6 proof 1993, (est, $8,000-12,000), Michter’s Single Barrel Rye 25 Year Old 117.3 proof NV, (est. $5,000-6,000), Colonel E.H. Taylor Warehouse C Tornado Surviving 100 proof NV, (est. $4,500-6,000), Black Maple Hill Single Barrel Rye 15 Year Old 98.2 proof NV, (est. $4,000-7,000), Heaven Hill William Heavenhill Signature Anniversary 127.6 aproof NV, (est. $4,000-4,800) and Four Roses Single Barrel 17 Year Old 2012 Release 55.3 abv NV, (est. $3,000-5,000)

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