Whisky Advocate

I’m auctioning my Evan Williams Single Barrel collection for charity

August 7th, 2012

Okay, one more post before I leave for vacation…

People close to me know that I’m a purger, not a hoarder. I try to follow the philosophy that less is more.

So, it’s a bit atypical for me that I have the entire collection of Evan Williams Single Barrel bottlings. I have one bottle from every vintage released for the past 17 years. The majority of them are from Barrel No. 1, and a large percentage are signed by either Parker or Craig Beam. (And some by both!)

When these bottlings first came out, I regularly went out and bought them. They were good, and they were affordable.  Several years later, I realized that I still had one bottle from each year’s release–unopened!

By this time, Heaven Hill began sending me a review bottle. I told them about my accidental collection, so they were kind enough to send me an extra bottle for my collection. Most times, either Craig or Parker would sign it before the sent it to me. (Each year, I would offer to pay, but they always refused.)

And so, here I am, seventeen years into this accidental fortune. Like I mentioned above, I’m not a hoarder. So what should I do with it? Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is that I could drink it! But these whiskeys are too special for me to drink randomly. I also thought about lining them all up, inviting about 40 special guests, and having a really fun tasting some night.

But, the fact is, many of these bottles were gifts thanks to the kindness of my friends at Heaven Hill. My feeling is that I should not benefit or profit in any way from them. That includes my drinking them, even if I share them.

What I decided to do was auction the complete set at the Bonhams auction in New York City on October 28th and donate the proceeds to charity. I haven’t informed Heaven Hill yet, but I would also like their input on the charity that’s picked.

So, if you feel like you missed the boat on these excellent Evan Williams Single Barrel offerings, here’s your chance. I have tasted them all over the past 17 years. Most of these bottlings are excellent, and some were awarded our “Whiskey of the Year.”

Maybe you can get a bunch of friends to go in with you on the bidding? Great whiskeys, and for a great cause!

No Responses to “I’m auctioning my Evan Williams Single Barrel collection for charity”

  1. OudErnest says:

    Well done John. Always one of my favorite bourbons and still such a great deal to this day. I can’t wait to see the winning bid. Cheers

  2. John Hansell says:

    I was going to be a little more subtle with the title (“Time to give back” or something like that), but I felt the more clear I was with the title, the more (hopefully) people will bid and generate a good price at auction.

    Fingers crossed…

  3. Kevin in Milwaukee says:

    Having the 17 bottle series is one level of auction (and collectable) value, but adding the signature by Craig and/or Parker takes the collectable value to a much higher level! Also being mostly from barrel 1 is more unique.

    Curious how bidding on each bottle individually would change the auction dynamic? Someone who could not afford the entire collection might be interested in bottle X because it was a special year for them. Could that possibly raise more money?

  4. Rick Duff says:

    Great idea and very admirable John!

    Would be awesome if Bonhams would step up and donate their commission to charity as well. Just having these will generate more traffic to their entire auction. Donating the commissions may also drive up the price.

  5. mark says:

    proceeds to liver disease/transplant research?
    enjoy your vacation.

  6. Red_Arremer says:

    You *should* just drink them with your friends. It’s nice to donate to charity. But simply giving away much appreciated gifts of whisky– Is that nice? If it makes you happy though, more power to you and those who benefit from your generosity.

  7. mark says:

    I imagine it’s more apropos than presumptuous. The appropriate comparison is some—not all—people eat or drink too much, etc. Nigh countless worthwhile endeavors need funds. Donate to those with which you’re comfortable.

  8. Jim P says:

    Good luck with the auction; that’s a great collection that should entice the collectors.

    A year or so ago, I noticed that my bunker had at least two bottles each of 1994 through 2000 ( and a stray 1989.) I considered the charity auction route, as I am trying to transition into a purge mode. But ultimately I feared that a local auction wouldn’t garner enough specialized interest, and I have gone down the route of drinking and gifting. It’s been fun to rediscover why I started collecting these guys in the first place, and to share them with friends.

    Now what to do with all of those Ardbegs…

  9. tmckenzie says:

    I think the liver comment was in poor taste. I agree with what John said. My father died with cirroshis and I have several family members with it as well now. My father did drink, but moderatly, and the other family members a couple did as well, some not at all. Some folks think if you did drink and have liver trouble, it came from the drink. Not entirely so. I attribute my fathers trouble to farming with chemicals and owning a fertilize business where he was around chemicals all the time as well as a hereditary component. On another note, it always flies in my face when I tell people I make whiskey for a living and they make a comment like, oh, I bet you stay drunk all the time. He may have not meant the comment to sound that way, but it did.

  10. tmckenzie says:

    Oh, and how nice of you John to give back. And a nice donation it is. It will come back to you I am sure.

  11. Marc in Ann Arbor says:


    Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful vacation with your family. After reading this post and the comments, I have decided to follow your lead and hope others will do the same. I am going to auction several bottles of (precious, wonderful and delicious) A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16 year old at the Bonhams auction in New York City on October 28th and also donate the proceeds to charity. I am designating “The Back Door Food Pantry” in Ann Arbor, MI as my charity. Maybe you also have a similar “local” charity which could greatly and very directly benefit from your generosity.

    I understand that there will be lots of other interesting, unique and rare bourbons at the October Bonhams auction, which of course coincides with Whisk(e)yFest New York! Couple this with the fact that the proceeds from some (at least two at this point!) of the sales will go to charity and this might just be the most interesting bourbon auction of all times!

    So … to my fellow whisk(e)y enthusiasts, consider following John’s lead! If you have a special bottle that you’ve been saving for just the right occasion … this auction and your favorite charity might just be that occasion!

    Marc in Ann Arbor

  12. Dutch says:

    A very nice gesture John, and I hope whomever picks up the lot is the type to open and enjoy! I hate to see whiskey sitting there as a collectable, whiskey was made for drinking.

  13. […] may remember that I posted I’m auctioning my entire collection of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintages. I have a bottle […]

© Copyright 2017. Whisky Advocate. All rights reserved.