View Full Version : Old bottle of Four Roses whiskey

09-17-2001, 18:29
Hello everyone. Sadly, my grandparents have recently had to move into an assisted living home. You can only imagine what kind of things collect after living together for 60 years. Amid everything we found a very old unopened bottle of Four Roses whiskey still in the original box. A sticker/marking indicated 1929. My questions are: Would this date sound reasonable since I believe that would place it during Prohibition? Would a bottle like this hold any collector's value? If so, would there be any legal issues with selling it? I would think it would classify as an antique or collector's item more than a bottle of whiskey. Thanks for any information anyone can provide....

09-17-2001, 19:05
What you have sounds like a bottle of Prohibition-era medicinal whiskey. "Medicinal Whiskey" was regular whiskey sold for medicinal purposes by a doctor's prescription and was, therefore, legal. There is a surprisingly large amount of it around. It seems strange that so many people decided to save them, since whiskey was supposedly so scarce, but they are constantly turning up. They are always one pint bottles, in a box. At an auction this past Saturday in Bardstown, some of them sold for $200+, but the auction was a fund raiser for the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, so the prices paid there aren't necessarily an indication of an item's worth, since people are a little more free with their money when it is for a worthy cause. (I sure was.)

I can't recall having seen too many Prohibition-era bottles of Four Roses, so it may be a little more rare than most. Still, as you see, the prices are not huge. It is a novelty and collectible, but selling it won't put your kids through college.

Selling whiskey without a license is technically illegal. The museum, for example, makes some kind of arrangement to make its auction legal under Kentucky law. However, I don't know of anyone ever being prosecuted for selling a collectible bottle of whiskey. The laws are intended to prevent bootlegging and moonshining, not transactions between collectors.

I hope this is helpful.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

09-17-2001, 19:22
Thanks for the info. I will pass it along to see what she would like to do. She had mentioned opening it if the family was able to get together for a large reunion. You brought up charity, that would be a good idea as well, given recent events. I should have gotten more details, but I do know that the box was approx. 12" tall so I would guess it's at least a quarter/liter, or however they measured it back then. Are there any online venues to make contacts for selling such an item?

09-18-2001, 08:23
To the extent that there is a market for such things, and there isn't much of one, it is on ebay or the other auction sites.

It is probably a pint bottle. That was the standard for "medicinal whiskey."

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

09-18-2001, 15:30
While the pint bottle was the standard, some states did allow other sizes. I have seen Quart sized bottles from prohibition, but they are more rare. I would still say that the value is limited, but they are probably more valuable than the pints.
Mike Veach