This is a LIVE event. Guests can choose to log in to the live-streamed production and place bids in real time against whisky lovers from around the nation.

LOUISVILLE, KY, Sept. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Speed Art Museum’s annual bourbon auction, which takes place Sept 24, will be completely online, live and virtual. This year’s “Art of Bourbon” is packed with another stunning lineup of rare or hard-to-find whiskies and VIP experiences. At the top of the auction block is the Black Bowmore 1964 50-Year-Old, which could fetch up to $80,000. Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, a Michter’s 25-Year, and even a Heaven’s Door Bootleg also make a cameo.

The auction is free to bid or participate but registration is required at artofbourbon.org

- 7pm - 9pm EST

- Pre-show begins at 6:30pm EST

- Bottles up for bid are added daily

- Pre-registration encouraged

The event combines Kentucky’s official art museum with Kentucky’s greatest product to produce the region’s premier bourbon auction. During the past two years, the museum has auctioned off some of the most rare whisky bottles and experiences ever, and this year is no exception. Elusive whiskies, exclusive bourbon experiences and single-barrel selections, are up for bid. Here’s a taste of what to expect:

Black Bowmore 1964 50-Year-Old, The Last Cask Estimate: $60,000 - $80,000

One of the most rare and sought-after single malt whiskies ever created, the last cask rediscovered of Black Bowmore 1964 spent an astonishing 50 years maturing in Bowmore’s legendary No.1 Vaults, one of the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouses, making this captivating whisky the oldest expression of the Black Bowmore series. Other acclaimed releases were in 1993 (29 Year Old), 1994 (30 Year Old), 1995 (31 Year Old), 2007 (42 Year Old), and the first collaborative creation between Bowmore and Aston Martin to be released this year: Black Bowmore DB5 1964.

This exceptionally rare offering – a mere 159 bottles were produced – would be the jewel in the crown of any collection.

The tale of the 159 bottles of the half-century-old last cask of Black Bowmore is as beguiling as it is complex: In 1964, seven first-fill Oloroso sherry hogshead casks were filled to mature meticulously in the No. 1 Vaults, where every cask and spirit unites to create a special aging relationship. In 2002, however, it was discovered that two casks were quickly losing volume to the angel’s share so they were combined into a single cask. Later, in 2007, 827 bottles of Black Bowmore 42 Year Old from the other casks were released. But the previously married cask was overlooked and was left undisturbed in the coolest, darkest corner of the No. 1 Vaults. This last cask was rediscovered when trawling through the stock ledgers in 2014.  

Distillery Manager David Turner, whose grandfather worked on the original bottling over 50 years ago, said “Black Bowmore is one of those whiskies that’s celebrated by collectors and aficionados around the world. To have Black Bowmore available for auction is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” 

This refined whisky is presented in a hand-blown bottle created by renowned sculpting studio Glasstorm with cork tops made by Scottish Silver. Each bottle is filled/sealed by hand and encased in a handmade Scottish oak cabinet created by John Galvin Design.

Maker’s Mark Barrel Selection: Your Own Unique Barrel of Maker’s Mark and Dale Chihuly Artwork Estimate: $22,000

Hands down this is considered the best, once-in-a-lifetime experience in American whiskey. As personal guests of Maker’s Mark Managing Director Rob Samuels, an 8th generation whiskey maker, the winning bidder and nine friends won’t simply select a barrel at Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky. Instead, the winner gets to create his/her own special Maker’s Mark “taste vision.” Using the same process as head honcho Bill Samuels Jr. did when he created Maker’s 46, you’ll get to formulate your own personalized, never-been-made barrel of Maker’s Mark bourbon.

Maker’s Mark upped the ante for the night: Bringing art and bourbon together in a way that only Maker’s Mark can offer, the winner will also receive a rare piece of iconic Dale Chihuly's glass artwork, gifted from the distillery’s private collection.

“I’ve always felt a deep connection between fine art and the vision my grandparents created at Maker's Mark, which was all about the painstaking attention to detail it takes to handcraft something truly unique,” said Samuels. “They also believed it was important to give back to the community in meaningful ways. So it seems a natural fit for us to provide this experience to celebrate that shared vision and support the remarkable work of the Speed Museum.”

This specific bourbon offering sets the exclusive tone for this auction. The bidder gets a complete Star Hill Farm experience and to top it off, Maker’s Mark donated a dinner at the distillery’s Star Hill Provisions with a special menu created by Chef Newman Miller, a Top Chef judge.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Rye Experience Estimate: $18,000

When Beam’s Seventh Generation Master Distiller Fred Noe set out to create Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Rye Whiskey in 2018, he did it with one purpose: to achieve an even bolder expression of Knob Creek’s signature rye whiskey for their valued customers. Since then, each barrel of Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Rye has been a unique expression of Knob Creek’s award-winning rye whiskey specially selected by a restaurant, bar or retailer for their own establishment and patrons.

For this auction, Knob Creek is giving one lucky bidder the chance to select their very own barrel of Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Rye – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any whiskey fan and one typically reserved solely for restaurants, bars and retailers.

The highest bidder would be able to select – through one of the two experience options – a one-of-a-kind single barrel of Knob Creek Rye Whiskey that reflects the craftsmanship, quality and full flavor that Knob Creek is known for. Bottles from the winner’s unique single barrel (approximately 150+, depending on barrel yield) will be packaged with a custom label reflecting your personalized barrel name and barrel information.   

Experience #1 at Warehouse K in Clermont, Ky.

The Warehouse “K” Knob Creek Single Barrel Select Experience offers a hands-on selection experience at the home of Knob Creek. From swinging hammers to thieving whiskey directly from the barrel to sipping and selecting, you’ll come back with more than just a barrel. You’ll come back knowing your personal passion for this whiskey is reflected in the bottles on your shelf. This experience would also include a tour of the James B. Beam Distillery and lunch at Fred’s Smokehouse, a BBQ restaurant at the distillery.

Experience #2 Distiller’s Choice 

Nobody knows Knob Creek like the guys who live with it every day at the distillery in Clermont. They know the warehouses. They know the barrels. And they know the signature characteristics of aroma, color, taste and finish that make one of those barrels a perfect candidate for Single Barrel Select Rye. In this experience option, seasoned barrel managers will select a barrel of one-of a-kind rye on your behalf that exceeds your expectations. In other words, we’ll take care of the work so all you have to do is enjoy the reward.  

Hermitage Farm and Barn8 Restaurant Immersive Journey Estimate: $7,000

Here’s your chance to step back in time and enjoy an original Kentucky land grant farm. Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown invite 4 people to stay at the historic Hermitage Farm “Main House,” in Oldham County, Ky. As part of this bespoke experience, Steve and Laura Lee are including six bottles that are housed as part of the on-site Barn8 Restaurant barrel selections and one very rare vintage bottle:

• a rare 1973 Old Fitzgerald “Hospitality Decanter”

• Weller Full Proof

• Woodford Reserve

• Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

• Old Forester

• Maker’s Mark Private Select

• New Riff

In addition, as part of this bucolic getaway, you and your friends enjoy a privileged VIP bourbon tasting led by Bourbon Steward Adam Walpole as well as two crafted and curated dinners, one being in the Greenhouse, by Barn8 Executive Chef Alison Settle.

The package also features a Royal Brunch under the canopy where Queen Elizabeth viewed yearlings in 1984 as well as a special ride in an antique carriage. Cap-off this experience with a walk through the newly unveiled Art Walk “Night Magic,’ created by acclaimed artist Ricardo Rivera. The Art Walk just opened this month.

Fred Minnick, widely considered the world’s leading bourbon authority, is advising the Museum and eying many of these lots closely, knowing that these bids can make a difference. “In the middle of the pandemic, these rare whiskeys can make a huge impact on one of our country’s best art museums and a cherished Louisville hotspot,” said Minnick. “We have the vintage and rare, and the new and unique. This is an outstanding collection and anybody who wins will be one happy camper.”

Here are other unique and hard-to-find bottles featured among the 34  lots:

Michter’s 25-Year-Old Estimate: $7,000

The grande dame of the portfolio, Michter’s 25-Year Bourbon represents more than a quarter century of maturation in the distillery’s finest barrels. Available only as stocks permit, this outstanding bourbon is extraordinarily rich in flavor. This 25-Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon is viewed by many as fine as any bourbon ever released throughout Michter’s storied history. This exceptionally flavorful bourbon was distilled from a select mashbill, then matured to perfection for over 25 years in specially chosen, new charred American white oak barrels.

Old Fitzgerald 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond, 1961 Estimate: $1,500

Distilled at the original legendary Stitzel Weller facility, this 6-year-old Bottled-in-Bond is the perfect representation of the distillery’s capabilities at the height of its popularity. This was truly America’s whiskey in the heyday of bourbon culture. The original wheated bourbon, Old Fitzgerald continues to be one of the most sought after brands of “dusties” and of its new production by Heaven Hill.

Old Taylor 1960 Estimate: $1,000

Distilled in what is now the Castle & Key distillery near Frankfort, Ky, Old Taylor was one of the premiere bourbons of its time. Named after Col EH Taylor who’s said to have been one of the main proponents of the Bottled-in-Bond Act, this 6-year-old bourbon is smooth and balanced with a subtle sweetness at the front.

Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Collection, 3 bottles Estimate: $750

Hand-selected by Eternal Optimist Hospitality & Willett Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen, these are some of the earliest barrels to be filled with Willett’s own product:

Willett Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon – 6 Year, Barrel 191

Willett Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon – 7 Year, Barrel 44 “Feast BBQ”

Willett Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Rye Whiskey – 6 Year, Barrel 233 

Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series: 2019 Edition, Limited Release Estimate: $500

The first expression in The Bootleg Series by Heaven’s Door. Each offering in the series features one of Bob Dylan’s paintings on a custom ceramic bottle. Each package is numbered and contains a hidden gold collectible coin. This edition is a 26-year aged whisky finished in Japanese Mizunara Oak barrels. Mizunara Oak, one of the rarest and most expensive types of oak, must be at least 200 years old before being harvested for barrel aging. 

All major distilleries are participating and offering up some of the most sought-after and prized bottles, according to Museum Director Stephen Reily. Reily conceived the novel event concept of pairing bourbon with art in 2018. Auction proceeds will support the art institution’s exhibitions, outreach, and education initiatives. Bill Menish serves as auctioneer.


Once again, organizers expect this to draw interest from serious bourbon enthusiasts and connoisseurs from around the nation.

“On Sept. 24, collectors have the opportunity to buy and taste history, and this auction creates these opportunities,” said Jamar Mack, founder of KOBBE, Kentucky's Original Black Bourbon Enthusiasts, and one of several bourbon experts curating the auction. 

“We’re talking 365,250 milliliters of rare spirits,” added Mack.


About the Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum. Its mission is to “invite everyone to celebrate art forever.” It is an independent and encyclopedic museum located on the campus of the University of  Louisville. In 1927, Louisville philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed Art Museum, with a belief in the power of art to change people’s lives. The Speed reopened in July with the exhibitions Andy Warhol: Revelation, The World Turned Upside Down and The World Turned Upside Down: A Contemporary Response, and the much-acclaimed Loose Nuts: Bert Hurley's West End Story. Upcoming exhibitions include Careful, Neat & Decent: Arts of the Kentucky Shakers and Mariam Ghani + Erin Ellen Kelly: When the Spirits Moved Them, They Moved, both part of Shaker Commonwealth, a celebration of Kentucky Shaker arts and culture at the Speed Art Museum. For more information, visit www.speedmuseum.org.


For access to online auction: artofbourbon.org









Willett Family Estate Single Barrel Collection Black Bowmore 1964 50-Year-Old, The Last Cask

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