View Full Version : Dead Mens' Bourbon
I am a young man. As such, I have not had years of experience to procure the fine old bottlings of yesteryear, and I was ruminating upon how a man such as myself might procure such libations.
And then I thought: "What about dead old rich men?" They must have stashes somewhere. Surely these men would want their bunkers taken up by the next generation -- one who will truly appreciate the quality of their cache. So my question to you is this:
Are estate sales a place where I might be able to find caches of old, fine and rare bottles? I mean, I have no idea what the alcohol laws say, and I don't know if booze generally gets just handed down... Has anyone out there taken dusties from the dead?
Easy reason--- no. It's illegal for them to sell and most apparently gets dumped.
Does it happen? Yes, at times. Good luck with it though, I've tried and it's been unsuccessful.
A few states permit alcohol auctions but the auction house has to be specially licensed. It's fine for people who have wine, whiskey, brandy and other spirits with high value. It happens but it's not that common and the law doesn't permit the average estate sale to sell that sort of thing.
Sigh. That's what I figured.
Guess I should start cruising the local bingo halls for 80 year old widows.
"Oh Eunice, I'm so sorry for your loss..."
Just hang around here and make some friends -- a good number of us have come upon whiskies of yesteryear through all kinds of channels. Best bet is to find someone nearby with a dusty bunker, but I hear tell there are other mechanisms...
I've bought quite a few of my full Michter's decanters at local auction houses that sell them as "empty." So sometimes you get lucky. Craigslist sometimes yields some good finds as well.
I've found some real gems through estate sales. Several VOF's from the '60's and '70's. People treated those bottles as "Collector's Items" and didn't open them. Here's how I have done it in the past.....
I have visited with several people active in the "estate sale" business. Some go to an estate and buy everything in the house and then resell later in a store/ebay/in the deceased's house. Some go and cherry pick like everyone else. I've let several know I'm looking for old, unopened bottles of whiskey.....in decanters, boxes, whatever. I get a call and then make an offer for the entire liquor cabinet.....opened and unopened bottles because they want to get rid of it all. So most of the stuff is junk but you pay practically nothing for it. Is it strictly legal......probably not. But this way you don't have to do the leg work to find a cache.
Lately, several groups who used to call have figured out that they will risk selling the stuff on ebay. They know its illegal and in the past sold to me in a private transaction with no shipping.
I recollect Dave Z picked up a bottle of pre-Pro rye at an estate sale.
My father in law is an auctioneer and once in a while old full bottles are found in estate sales. Right now he has a full bottle of Old Bushmills from the 1940s. Years ago he sold a whole bunch of full Beam decanters at an auction. It happens, but not very often. I'd say watch the newspaper for estate sale auction advetisements. One day a former neighbor just out of the blue gave me a two bottles from the mid '70s; J&B Scotch, and some Old Fitz from Stitzel Weller. An old lady gave them away cleaning house. It's funny that people either seem to think whatever they have is super valuable (even it is just cheap swill from a few years ago) or basically give whatever it is to the first person to show interest.
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