Booze | April 26, 2021 12:14 pm

The “Oldest Currently Known Whiskey Bottle” Is Up for Auction

Old Ingledew Whiskey may pre-date the Revolutionary War

This bottle of Old Ingledew Whiskey may hail from the 18th century; it's up for auction in June
This bottle of Old Ingledew Whiskey may hail from the 18th century. It's up for auction in June.
Skinner Auctioneers

We’re gonna go ahead and say you’re a little too young to have enjoyed a sip of Old Ingledew Whiskey.

That’s because you weren’t born in the 18th century. But now’s your chance to go back in time and enjoy what is being dubbed the “oldest known whiskey still in existence,” which will soon be up for sale at Skinner Auctioneers (you may recognize some of their auction appraisers from Antiques Roadshow).

As that auction house tells us, Skinner Fine Spirits Specialist Joseph Hyman partnered with scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of Glasgow to confirm the date of the bottle via carbon-14 dating; the highest probability result places the hooch as being produced sometime between 1763-1803. So, somewhere around the time of the Revolutionary War through the Whiskey Rebellion. The scientists also assessed that the whiskey itself was produced at a much earlier time from the bottling and spent time aging in an oak barrel; it was later stored for several decades in large glass demijohns until it did finally reach the bottling stage.

the text on the back of a bottle of Old Ingledew Whiskey, which may hail from the 18th century
The back of the bottle of Old Ingledew Whiskey
Skinner Auctioneers

The Old Ingledew Whiskey was reportedly purchased by financier John Pierpont Morgan during a visit to Georgia, where it was previously bottled by grocers and merchants Evans & Ragland in La Grange. Morgan’s son Jack later gifted this bottle to former Senator and Supreme Court Justice James Byrnes of South Carolina, as well as two other bottles to Franklin D. Roosevelt (a distant cousin to Morgan) and Harry S. Truman for Christmas.

“The age was a shocking surprise, albeit a pleasant one, for both myself and the scientist,” Hyman told Food & Wine. “Initially, we were all (including James Byrnes) assuming the ‘distillery’ pre-existed the Civil War as no such distillery was in existence after the war. Archival data about the grocer/merchant Evans & Ragland existing after the war and that it was common to store whiskey in demijohns, we concluded the whiskey was bottled after the war, having been in such a demijohn for several decades.”

The back label of the bottle reads: “This Bourbon was probably made prior to 1865 and was in the cellars of Mr. John Pierpont Morgan from whose estate it was acquired upon his death. As far as is known, there were no Bourbon distilleries in Georgia after the Civil War.”

Are there tasting notes? Sadly, no. But find out for yourself at the auction, which takes place June 22-30. The estimated bottle price is $20,000 – $40,000.