Archive for the ‘Special events’ Category

Bonhams Whisky Auction, New York, December 17th

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Bonhams’ third, final, and largest auction of the Willard S. Folsom Collection will take place this coming Thursday in New York. There’s plenty of great whiskies in the nearly 900 lots in this auction.  I went through all of them earlier today. Here’s a link to them all.

Of course, there’s plenty of trophy whiskies, like the Dalmore 50 yr. old (pictured below), several Black Bowmores, ’73 and ’74 Longrows. But if you look through the list more carefully, you’ll find some bargains.

longmorn centenaryFor example, there’s a Longmorn Centenary 25 yr. old (lot 237) listed with a range of $130-160 (pictured on the left). I’ve tasted this whisky. It’s very nice (with even a hint of smoke). I have a bottle already, but at that price range, I’ll be happy to have another one.

 And there are a few Springbank 30 yr. old lots (25-27) valued around $300. That was the going price a decade ago, and it will be a while before Springbank comes out with another standard issue 30 year old, given that the distillery was closed for most of the ’80s.

And there’s plenty of whiskies from distilleries long gone, like Ladyburn, Killyloch, Glen Flagler, Kinclaith, etc.

In addition to old whiskies, there are young whiskies bottled decades ago, which are pretty rare.

Have a look through. Maybe you will find something that catches your eye. I was sent a press release on the auction, which I have included below.




The Willard S. Folsom Collection of Old and Rare Whiskies
To Be Offered At Bonhams New York This December

Dalmore 50Aficionados of fine, rare Whiskies will be presented with an unparalleled collecting opportunity when the renowned Willard S. Folsom Collection goes to block on December 17th at Bonhams New York.

A sports fan, football handicapper, race car driver, master of finance, scuba diver, skydiver, and salsa dancer at various times in his life – Folsom began his love affair with Whisky in 1988 while reading a list of the best bars in the United States for Single Malt. Included in the list was a restaurant ten minutes from Willard’s home in Burlingame, California. After attending his first Single Malt Scotch tasting he immediately became a devotee of the Whisky arts.

For the next 18 years Willard amassed his private collection. Starting with establishing relationships within San Francisco’s Scotch community it was not long before he began travelling the world in search of rare bottles. Having toured the Highlands, the Lowlands, Speyside, Islay, and Orkney, he purchased whisky from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK- resulting in a collection of over 3,000 bottles.

Following the successful sale of a portion of the vast collection in Edinburgh and another sampling to be offered on November 27th in Hong Kong, part three of the sale will take place at the New York galleries of Bonhams and consists of nearly 900 lots of premier Single Malt Whisky. The meticulously selected collection ranges from Single Malts distilled in the 70s and 80s to a 1924 Royal Brackla 60 year old estimated at $2,400-3,300.  The New York sale is being held in conjunction with Bedford Wine Merchants.

Undoubtedly one of the most sought after lots will be the Dalmore 50 year old (pictured, top). It is beautifully presented in a crystal decanter along with a hand crafted wooden presentation case. Carrying an estimate of $6,500-7,300 it is sure to draw serious collector attention.

Also of great interest is the Dalmore 30 year old. This 150th Anniversary issue is offered in an Edinburgh Crystal decanter with sterling silver labelling. Bottle 37 out of a limited run of 50 and never for sale on the open market, the  lot is estimated at $2,400-3,300.
The Balvenie 50 year old is also highly anticipated. Distilled in 1937 and bottled 50 years later, the bottle is designed to replicate the bottling style of the 1930s when it was originally distilled. This nostalgic lot is expected to fetch $4,900-5,700.

Another lot certain to attract bidders is a group of limited edition Springbank whiskies. Bottled for the millenium at five year intervals from 25 to 50 years maturation in the cask, the lot is comprised of Springbank 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 year old. The six bottle lot carries an estimate of $3,000-5,000.

Macallan 1946Two 1940s Macallan’s will also highlight the sale. Accompanied by a miniature for sampling purposes, the 1948 Macallan Select Reseve 51 year old is estimated at $3,500-$4,500. The 1946 Macallan Select Reserve 52 year old (pictured left) is numbered 536 and is expected to bring $2,000-2,300.

Also cause for excitement is an 18 year old Bowmore. Estimated at $3,300-4,100, this rarely seen bottle was distilled and bottled by Sherriff’s Bowmore Distillery in the 1950s. 

Other notable lots to be offered are a rare, limited edition 1963 Laphroaig 40 year old (est. $1,100-1,500); a limited edition Aultmore Centenary 16 year old only available to employees of the distillery (est. $900-1,200); and a 1963 Bowmore, bottled especially for a dinner at Chateau La Grange marking the 30th Anniversary of Morrison Bowmore’s ownership of the distillery (est. $900-1,200).

“We’re extremely excited to present this collection,” states Director of Whisky, Martin Green. “Not only is it the largest collection ever to come to auction; it is also distinguished by the fact that Folsom bought multiples whenever possible, which allowed him to take pleasure in actually drinking many of these bottles- highly unusual for a collector.”

 The sale will take place on December 17th at 4PM EST. The illustrated auction catalog for the sale will be online at in the weeks preceding the auction.  For more information about the department, please visit

Great video of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon unveiling

Friday, October 30th, 2009

The guys were at the unveiling this past Saturday night and shot a great video. They really did a nice job capturing the evening. (I’m also interviewed in the video.) Have a look:


And just for fun, here’s their entire uncut interview with me, discussing drinking alone vs. drinking with other people, among other things (after I had a drink or two, as I recall). Enjoy!:

Two upcoming spirits auctions featuring rare whiskies

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The first one is by Christie’s, in New York City, on November 14th. It includes the most recent Bowmore Trilogy (Black, White, and Gold), along with many rare whiskies from Park Avenue Liquor. The press release:



goldbowmoreNew York – With the winter season fast approaching, Christie’s is delighted to announce its November 14 sale of Fine Wines and Spirits, with a special selection of spirits that are sure to ward off the chill of cold days to come.  Over 40 lots of carefully-curated whisky, bourbon, cognac, armagnac, and rum will be offered from prominent sources, including the Park Avenue Liquor Shop, one of the most respected spirits retailers in the country. 

In addition, Christie’s is honored to have been selected as the first U.S. sales site to offer the exceedingly rare 1964 Bowmore® Trilogy (pictured above) direct from the Bowmore distillery in Scotland.  An exceptional selection of fine and rare wines rounds out the sale, with recent and mature vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy in great supply, along with collector favorites from California, Italy, the Rhône Valley, and Champagne (separate press release available).  The total sale of wine and spirits includes over 800 lots and is expected to realize in excess of $2.1 million.

View our latest wine sale catalogues online here:


The second one is by Bonhams in Edinburgh on November 18th. This one features a rare Dalmore Oculus (pictured), along with the 3,000 plus bottle collection by deceased whisky enthusiast Willard S. Folsom. Details from their press release:

Bespoke bottling created to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of whisky auction sales

The Dalmore Oculus low resAs part of Bonhams Edinburgh’s highly-anticipated November 18th Whisky Sale, whisky enthusiasts will have the unique opportunity to purchase an exceptional one-of-a kind The Dalmore Oculus, amongst other distinguished whiskies.
This rare and unique Dalmore Oculus is one of the most precious whiskies to ever appear at auction. It is both the first and last of its kind, assembled from some of the most exceptional whiskies of the past 140 years and is thus estimated to sell for a staggering £15,000-20,000.
Due to its rarity and depth of stocks The Dalmore has long been recognised as a brilliant single malt. Jim Murray, whisky guru comments it is “one of the world’s greatest and undervalued distilleries”.
This particular unique expression of the Dalmore Oculus was created by master-distiller Richard Paterson, drawing on some four decades of experience. With his intimate knowledge of the stocks, Richard Paterson fused an incomparable and brilliant assemblage, beginning with a rich spicy and orange zest core from cask 1781 (distilled in 1951), trace elements of the taste and smell of dried fruits, ripe bananas, treacle toffee and almonds from an original fifty year old are added to develop complexity. Alongside these elements, rare malts selected from vintages distilled in 1868, 1878, 1922, 1926 and 1939 add a depth of flavour. Finally, to intensify the whisky, an incredibly intense oak, spice and bitter dark chocolate long matured distillate from cask 1782 is added to the mix alongside the whisky’s ‘capstone’: a judicious amount of the revered 64 year old, proffering notes of coffee, aromatic spices and citrus zest.
Such alchemistic artistry creates a peerless whisky fusion, which is beautifully presented in a precious Baccarat crystal decanter. This exceptionally crafted bespoke decanter is decorated with an intricate solid silver iconic stag standing alongside the name of this extraordinary whisky.
Richard Paterson, master distiller at The Dalmore said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and The Dalmore Oculus is without doubt a truly exceptional expression. This is the most exquisite expression I have personally crafted with all the loving reference it so richly deserves to seduce the most discerning and sophisticated plates imaginable. I am confident it will appeal to epicureans, investors and collectors”.
Alongside the Dalmore Oculus, Bonhams will also be selling the first section of the largest single-owner collection of whisky ever to appear at auction. The 3,000-strong Willard S Folsom Collection of Old and Rare Single Malt Whiskies has been amassed over an 18-year period and features wide ranges of Ardbeg, Bowmore, Dalmore, Glenfiddich, Laphroaig, Springbank, Kinclaith, Killyloch, Ben Wyvis, Glen Grant, Glenmorangie, The Glenlivet, Strathmill, Mortlach and The Macallan.
Martin Green, Bonhams Whisky Specialist comments: “The 18th November Whisky sale is the most interesting to take place over a 20 year period and marks the 20th Anniversary of Whisky Auctions. The inclusion of the Dalmore Oculus is an exciting addition to this high quality sale. The Folsom Collection being sold in Edinburgh, Hong Kong and finally in New York in December makes this a very interesting and progressive year for Bonhams Whisky Sales”.
For Bonhams enquiries please call 0870 0273622

There are some pretty special whiskies in both collections.

Some pics from Parker Beam’s “50 Years in Whiskey” Party

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Here are a few pictures I took from last night’s party here in Bardstown, KY, celebrating Heaven Hill’s Master Distiller Parker Beam’s 50 years in the business. Plenty of fellow distillery managers, press, etc. And LOTS of bourbon!

The pics are from my Blackberry while was tweeting, so I apologize for the poor quality.

The ProgramThe Program








The Beam FamilyThe Beam Family









ParkerParker Beam







Jim RutledgeJim Rutledge (Four Roses)









Greg DavisGreg Davis & wife (Tom Moore)








Elmer T. LeeA very blurry Elmer T. Lee (Buffalo Trace)







Kevin SmithKevin Smith (Maker’s Mark)








Paul Pacult and Jim MurrayFellow writers Paul Pacult & Jim Murray

Celebrate Parker Beam’s 50 years in the bourbon business

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Parker BeamParker Beam, Master Distiller at Heaven Hill Distilleries, is celebrating 50 years of working in the bourbon industry.

Heaven Hill has already released a whiskey in his honor. It’s Parker’s Heritage Collection “Golden Anniversary,” and it’s a fantastic bourbon. You can check out my review here.

This Friday Heaven Hill is having a Golden Anniversary party for Parker down in Kentucky, and I’ve been invited. The man is a living legend in the bourbon industry, responsible for many great whiskeys (Evan Williams, Rittenhouse rye, Elijah Craig, Old Fitzgerald, etc.). On top of that, he’s a really nice guy and good friend.

Maybe you can’t be there, but you CAN wish him well. Add a comment below, and I’ll see that he gets it on Friday night. If you have ever enjoyed any of his whiskeys, please take a moment and share your thoughts.

 (I’ll need your comments by 9 AM, Friday morning, Eastern Time.)

Here’s the video link of my live webcast with Laphroaig and Maker’s Mark

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

For those of you who missed the live webcast at the Maker’s Mark distillery Friday night, here’s the video link so you can watch it now.

The live webcast featured Distillery Managers John Campbell (Laphroaig) and Kevin Smith (Maker’s Mark) and me at the Maker’s Mark distillery. We tasted some of the Laphroaig single malt scotch line (10, 18, 25) along with Maker’s Mark bourbon. We also taste some cocktails and food made with whiskies from both distilleries.

There’s lots of great stuff in this webcast. I think you’ll enjoy it and maybe even learn a thing or two.

Have a look. Let me know your thoughts. And let me know if you have any questions we didn’t answer.

Laphroaig, Maker’s Mark, me, tonight

Friday, September 25th, 2009

I’m heading down to Kentucky today (Friday) to the Maker’s Mark distillery. Tonight I will be joining Kevin Smith (Maker’s Mark Master Distiller) and John Campbell (Laphroaig Distillery Manager) for a LIVE webcast @ 8pm EST. We’ll be tasting some of the new expressions of Laphroaig, including the 18 year old and 25 year old, along with Maker’s Mark bourbon. You can find the complete details here.

If you’re not doing anything tonight, join us. (The two good-looking guys will be John and Kevin. I’m the other guy 🙂 )The direct link to the webcast is here.

 P.S. I’ll be on the road most of today and tomorrow, so this will be my last blog post probably until Sunday or Monday.

Kilchoman releases first single malt Islay whisky

Friday, September 11th, 2009

KilchomanIslay’s newest distillery, Kilchoman, released their first whisky this week. (Has it really been three years already?) All the details are here on the Islay Blog.

I toured the distillery back in 2007, and the spirit I tasted showed great potential.

Congrats to Kilchoman! I’m looking forward to trying this whisky!