Kentucky preservation society cracking century old bourbons

Sat Sep 20, 2014 7:03am EDT
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By Steve Bittenbender

LOUISVILLE Ky. (Reuters) - A Louisville preservation society will raise a glass in December to toast the end of the Prohibition Era, but not with just any ordinary drink.

The Filson Historical Society will celebrate "Repeal Day," the day in 1933 when the United States lifted a ban on alcohol, by popping open more than two dozen rare bottles of bourbon, some over a century old.

Donated by a member, most were bottled during the 13-year period when the sale and production of alcoholic beverages was prohibited, an era of contraband, speakeasies and larger than life gangsters like Al Capone.

"We're doing as the donor wished," said Mike Veach, a bourbon historian at Louisville's Filson Historical Society. "Opening them up."

The society is offering the rare bourbon at a sold-out fundraiser tasting on Dec. 5, an event that helps the group preserve historical stories and artifacts for Louisville, Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley region.

Two bottles in the collection dated prior to Prohibition. These bottles stand out, according to another bourbon historian, and not just because of their age.

One is a bottle of Cascade, a whisky sold by Julian P. Van Winkle Sr., and bottled in Louisville between 1910 and 1920.

Popularly known as Pappy Van Winkle, he would eventually become a distiller on his own. Pappy Van Winkle is now considered one of the bourbon industry's premium brands.   Continued...

Rare bottles of Belmont (R) and Cascade Kentucky bourbon are seen at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Bittenbender