Museum Discovers Trove of 221-Year-Old Wine Meant for President John Adams

Researchers at Keane University uncover three cases of Madeira from 1796

July 12, 2017 5:05 pm
Cache of Madeira Discovered That Was to Honor U.S. President John Adams
John Adams, second president of the United States of America. (Stock Montage/Stock Montage/Getty Images)

A giant cache of alcohol discovered on a college campus? Not so big a deal. Its purpose? Anything but normal.

Researchers at Keane University have uncovered a treasure trove of wine—including three cases of Madeira that date from 1796—at the campus’ Liberty Hall Museum during a restoration project, according to It turns out that the wine was shipped from Portugal to the 13 original colonies for newly elected President John Adams.

The president of Keane University, John Kean, was aware of the wine, but not of its historical significance. “We knew there was a lot of liquor down here, but we had no idea as to the age of it….I think the most exciting part of it was to find liquor, or Madeira in this case, that goes back so far. And then trying to trace why it was here and who owned it.”

The collection of Madeira—which also includes 42 bottles from the 1820s—is the largest known cache of its kind in America.

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