This Bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Just Sold for a Record-Breaking $52,000

The extremely rare bottle sold for 17 times higher than its pre-sale estimate.

Pappy Van Winkle bottle of 23 Year Old Family Reserve

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Over the weekend, Sotheby's, the famed auction house, saw an unexpected battle go down between two avid collectors over a bottle of 23-Year-Old Family Reserve by Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. In the end, only one came out victorious, to the tune of $52,500, marking a new record for the alcohol brand. 

Released in 2008, the reserve was presented for sale with its original black velvet bag and was expected to fetch a handsome sum. However, according to the auction house, the bottle went for 17 times higher than its pre-sale estimate. 

"It was exciting to be on the rostrum conducting the sale for this record-breaking bottle, which went far beyond anyone's expectations," Jonny Fowle, Sotheby's head of whisky & spirits, North America and EMEA, shared in a statement. "The auction marked a remarkable end to a year that has seen prices soar for American whiskey at Sotheby's."

In fact, Sotheby's noted, all 14 of the individual bottles of Pappy Van Winkle on offer sold for sums in excess of their high estimates, ending with a combined total of $396,250. Individual records were also set for the Pappy Van Winkle 15-year-old ($9,375) and 20-year-old ($27,500) bottles.

The lots formed part of Whisky & Whiskey | Seasonal Spirits and The Yamazaki 55, which Sotheby's reported, brought a total of $1,786,625, again surpassing all pre-sale expectations. This is likely due to the allure of the American whiskey brand. 

"Synonymous with enthusiasts, whiskeys bottled under the Van Winkle brand have gone on to become amongst the most highly rated and sought-after, gathering an almost cult-like following," Sotheby's explained. "Many of those were distilled at the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery, opened on Derby Day in 1935, which went on to create some of the finest and most sought-after bourbons ever produced before its closure in the early 1990s, with production moving to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort." 

Can't afford a $52,500 bottle? Get your fix by binge-watching the six-episode mini-series Heist, which follows the true story of the massive 2013 theft of some rather rare (and very expensive) bottles Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. And that you can get for the cost of a Netflix subscription (or, you know, just log into your friend's account, we're sure they won't mind.) 

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