View Full Version : Bourbon Gems (get 'em while you can)

12-14-2001, 10:17
What do you think should be on a list of rare or disappearing bourbons which we should snatch up if we ever come across a bottle? Essentially I think the criteria would be quality bourbons which have been discontinued and are disappearing from the shelves.

I guess you could easily put 20 y.o. Van Winkle on the list as well as 16 or 20 y.o. Hirsch. How about some others? Would any (or all) of the Heritage Collection apply?

At least locally I've noticed that the small, hole-in-the-wall liquor stores are much more likely to have a bourbon "gem" than your run-of-the-mill gigantic Discount Liquor Warehouse Mart.


12-14-2001, 10:48

If you're stashing bottles away in your bourbon treasure chest, I would think that both the 13 year old Old Charter Proprietor's Reserve and the 10 year old Dickel Special Barrel Reserve would be good choices.

I've also been putting away bottles of Evan Williams Single Barrel of any vintage that I can find.

If you like rye then the Sazerac 18 year old is a must have. Very limited production at a reasonable price - if you can find it.

Woodford Reserve has really come into it's own spotlight. I picked up five bottles of batch 49 last Friday, but I also have to admit that I've already consumed two of them. It realy is just that damn good! So good in fact that it puts some of the best known single barrels to shame. Costs Less - Tastes Better!

Ain't Life Grand?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

12-14-2001, 12:39
John & Linn, good suggestions for 'collectible' bottles. Besides the early vintage EWSB editions and the Bourbon Heritage line, here are other hard to find, limited release bottles.

Henry Clay/Joseph Finch duo
Pappy's Family Res., 23
Wild Turkey 12
Makers Keeneland series, 93 blue, 99 Harley, & Confederate bottles
Michter's Single Barrel
The Antique Collection (Buffalo Trace)
Bookers 10th
Old Weller Antique 107 (discontinued I believe)
Benchmark Single Barrel

I'd also add most duty free expressions to the list.

Regarding bourbons in the spotlight, the current batches of Woodford are superb. However, my pick for bourbon of the year goes to WT Russell's Reserve. Impossible to beat the taste depth at $22. Thank you Jimmy!


12-14-2001, 13:10
Very Very Old Fitzgerald would have to be at the top of any such list, but it is unlikely to turn up.

If my last bottle is any indication, scoop up any Weller Antique you can find that's pre-Buffalo Trace. Easy to tell, since BT discontinued the gold veined bottle.

Right now you can still find plenty of Weller and Fitz from the Old Fitz distillery. Scoop it up.

Re EWSB, you won't be disappointed by the 92 vintage, but the older ones will disappear eventually. Both the 90 and 91 are still around, but won't be forever.

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

Hedmans Brorsa
12-14-2001, 13:26
"Ainīt life grand?" Jim Dandy & Black Oak Arkansas? If so, YEE-HAW!

I had no idea that the 12 year old Wild Turkey was a limited edition. Mine is a french release with different label. Undescribably good. Have to order a new one fast, then.

A question about Weller Centennial. I recently found a whisk(e)y shop in England that does mail order. Among other goodies they carry the above-mentioned Weller. On the bottle it says : bottled and distilled in Frankfort. Shurely shome mishtake, or?

Another question while Iīm at it : is the Dickel distillery closed or mothballed?

Best wishes,

12-14-2001, 13:31
The 12yo WT may not be limited in Europe, but we know it's been discontinued here.

Weller is now owned by Buffalo Trace, so anything bottled since the sale will say "Frankfort." I would have thought most of the Centennial around was old stock, but apparently not.

Re Dickel, I think the official answer, if you could get one, would be "dark" or "silent," but not permanently closed.

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

12-14-2001, 16:51
Well I located and purchased a bottle of Wild Turkey 12 y.o. tonight. I've noticed quite a few "gems" around here lately...

George Dickel Special Barrel Reserve (10 yr., 86 proof)
Old Charter Proprietor's Reserve (13 yr., 90 proof)
I.W. Harper Gold Medal (15 yr., 80 proof)
W.L. Weller Centennial (10 yr., 100 proof)
Hirsch 16 y.o.
Hirsch 20 y.o.
Joseph Finch
Wild Turkey 12 y.o.

Does anyone know if Ancient Age 10 y.o. Barrel 107 is still in production, or would that also be considered a rare find.


12-14-2001, 19:20

As you might be able to tell, I've been doing some reaserch into George Dickel and their Cascade Hollow Distillery. I spoke with Master Distiller and President Dave Backus. Since I'm thinking of writing an in depth article on Dickel I'm going to hold those cards close to my vest right now as my research is far from over. I can tell you that the official line is that they are not really closed, but are doing no distilling. Three years ago this was said to be 'temporary'. The Dickel store is closed and there are no tours of the distillery. I have alot more to say about it, but I just can't right now.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

12-15-2001, 09:09
What is the current status of Very Special Old Fitz (12 yr.) and Weller Special Reserve (two of my favorites)? The bottle of VSOF I have says "distilled,aged and bottled by Old Fitzgerald Distillery." Is this going to be discontinued? My current bottle of Weller SR says "Weller Bros. Frankfort, Kentucky." What does this indicate about what's in the bottle? Thanks!

12-15-2001, 10:32
Russell's Reserve? Ahhh you know it's true BaBaLoo! Can't afford or find Kentucky Spirit? Pick up a bottle of Russell's Reserve and enjoy a good old fashioned bourbon with big BIG taste. It's good for you! I LUV IT! And you will too!

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

12-15-2001, 16:30
I believe Heaven Hill, the new owner of Fitzgerald, is going to keep VSOF. I would guess that Buffalo Trace is going to continue Special Reserve, but can't be sure. They seem to have a strategy of moving Weller upmarket with more aged, and costly, expressions, which may mean discontinuing some of the more moderately priced expressions.

If the bottle says "Louisville" it is from the old plant. If it says "Bardstown" (OF) or "Frankfort" (Weller) it was bottled by the new owner but may be whiskey from the old plant, there is no way to know for sure.

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

12-15-2001, 23:58
Hello, Here is what I think I know about some better outdated bourbons. No more George Dickel 10yr Special Reserve. Actually I believe the entire heritage Collection is now disconintued. I have 1 bottle each, Dickel 10yr Special Reserve. 12yr VSOF, and 13yr Old Charter Proprietors Reserve. Get any of the 2000 bottlings of Buffalo Traces Antique collection especially the 17yr Eagle Rare and the 18yr Sazerac. There is no more 20yr Hirsch whats out there is it. There is still some 16yr Hirsch sitting in a vat in KY. Julian Vanwinkles 23yr Pappy Reserve is al gone at least Julian does not have any left so what is out there is it for now. There will be a new 23yr Pappy in say 2-2-1/2 yrs. Julians 13yr Rye is also going to run out some day and it is one marvelous whiskey. Try and find Julians 20yr Old Pappy (Green Bottle) also getting real hard to locate. Bookers 10th is one I still need to add to my collection. Henry Clay. Joseph Finch and I believe some 100 Proof Elmer T. Lee would fit real nice in my collection. I need to replace a bottle of Wild Turkey 12yr Old as I sold the only bottle I had to Omar (Bourboned) when he came to visit this past labor day. I have 6 bottles of various 90 Evan Williams Single barrel Bottlings and have been adding the 91 bottlings to my holdings. And Linn and Omar you guys are both right the Russles Reserve and the Woodfords Distillers Select are both fine bourbons. Enjoy, Thanks Creggor.

12-30-2001, 17:50
I noticed a bottle of Jacob's Well not long ago. A discontinued Beam small batch, yet not in their "Small Batch" collection. 84 proof, aged 84 mos., and twice barreled. At $23 I'll probably leave it alone as there are some less than flattering comments about it in the archives on this board.

A couple of other local rarities:
Ancient Age 10 y.o. Barrel 107
Old Charter Bottled in Bond, 7.y.o.


12-31-2001, 10:16
The only negative comments I ever made about Jacob's Well had to do with the silliness of its marketing, not the product itself. Though not extraordinary, it was certainly a good bourbon and does fit the definition of a rarity, as it is no longer being made.

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

12-31-2001, 12:19
Actually, I was thinking about the comment made about Jacob's Well that it has a "petrochemical" taste....but other folks really seem to like it.


12-31-2001, 20:39
I am new to this site, I want to know if this bottle of bourbon I have is worth anything. very very old fitzgerald aged 12 years, 100 proof, bottle has collectors item wrote on it. made in fall 1965 bottled in spring 1978, comes in a clear case, seal intact, never been opened.

01-01-2002, 07:50

That was Mark Mason that made that assessment of Jacob's Well. If you're just going to collect it without ever drinking any of it then it is a 'buy'. I found it rather bland - about like Basil Hayden's or Four Roses yellow label.

Due to the double barreling of this bourbon it was very expensive to make. A barrel costs about one hundred dollars so that cost is doubled to two hundred dollars. The evaporation of the whiskey, or 'angles share' is greatest in the first year - so in this case the angles twice as much. Then there is the labor involved in hauling the old barrels out of the warehouse; dumping them and then refilling the new barrels and putting them back into the warehouses. That's a lot of extra expense. One taste will tell you that it just wasn't worth it.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

01-01-2002, 20:11

I intend to drink the collectibles....just a lot more sparingly. A bottle that stays sealed is just a missed opportunity. But that's why I'll leave that Jacob's Well on the shelf. Based on the collective comments about it, I don't think I'd like it. I'd rather stock up on the Heritage Collection...especially Old Charter P.R.


01-02-2002, 04:27
Welcome to the site.

I can't comment on the "worth anything" aspect of your question, but click on the "Search" link in the menu bar, type in "Old Fitzgerald", select "Search all discussions" (or something like that) and select the item to unrestrict the time limit. Poke through the search results and I'm sure you will find that your bottle is a highly desired and sought after bourbon. Also, people who want it seem to have some trouble finding it.

Good luck, Tim

01-02-2002, 15:07
keep in mind that bourbon itself, once bottled, does not improve with age (like wine).

However the fact that this was distilled in the 60s as Old Fitz 12 year likely makes it valuable to collectors and drinkers alike. Primarily because of the 'mashbill' or recipe from that period, I believe.

Also keep in mind that I know of no open auction for such bottles so it becomes worth whatever someone will offer (or whatever you value is a nice pour). Most in this forum would sooner drink it than sell it, for example.

You likely noted that Bourbon writer and expert Chuck Cowdery answered the question, "what is your favorite bourbon?" with
"Very Very Old Fitzgerald, made Fall 1963, bottled Fall 1976, consumed Fall 1996.
--Chuck Cowdery "


<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by kitzg on Wed Jan 2 14:12:29 2002 (server time).</FONT></P>

01-07-2002, 07:30
As I understand it, Beam's "twice barreling" (they do it with one of their Canadians too) is just a matter of consolidation. They aren't using new barrels for the rebarrel. There is obviously labor cost involved, but it may be offset by freeing up warehouse space. There is no additional cost for new barrels. Does this practice jeopardize the bourbon designation, since it could be construed as using "used barrels"? No, because the rebarreling takes place after the whiskey's fourth birthday.

I always considered it a gimmick with dubious value to the drinker, and got in trouble at Beam for telling them so.

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

01-07-2002, 07:40
There tends not to be a secondary market for American whiskey, no matter how good or how rare it is. Add the legal issues (illegal to sell alcohol without a license) and transportation hassles, and there isn't much traffic in such things.

That said, what you have is considered by many (including me) to be one of the finest bourbons ever made and it is extremely rare and hard to find. That doesn't mean you can expect to send your kids to college on it, but assuming an intact seal and everything else in good condition, you probably could sell it to any number of people right here on this forum for $50 or more.

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

01-07-2002, 08:11
OK Chuck I stand corrected. I was once told that "the truth is highly over-rated" just before being fired for being so bold as to actually tell the truth. I've found that honesty is a hard habit to break, and haven't been able to do it yet.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.