Aged Whiskey Found Under Attic Floorboards
In order to save money while renovating his St. Joseph, Mo., home, Bryan Fite began prying up floor boards on the rafters in his attic. While attempting to save a little cash, he found a treasure: over a dozen bottles of century-old whiskey.
What first appeared to Fite as old insulated pipes, turned out to be the hidden whiskey stash of one of the home’s former owners. When purchasing the property, the Fites found out a bit of the history behind its ownership. One of the previous owners had to give up the house when he was consigned to a sanitarium “for alcohol reasons.”
All of the whiskey found was bottled in 1917 and distilled between 1912 and 1913. Four of the bottles contain Hellman’s Celebrated Old Crow whiskey. They may have been among the last of their kind. In 1918, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edson Bradley, the maker of the still-popular Old Crow whiskey bottled by the makers of Jim Beam, allowing him exclusive rights to the “Old Crow” label.
In addition to the Old Crow bottles there were a few bottles of Guckenheimer, a Pennsylvania rye whiskey, and W. H. McBrayer’s Cedar Brook whiskey.
Here’s what Lew Bryson, managing editor of WhiskyAdvocate.com, had to say about the treasure:
The quality of the findings depend largely on the liquid level of the whiskey in the bottles. If enough whiskey has evaporated, oxygen will enter the bottle and begin rusting the whiskey, and its “off flavors” will be concentrated in what remains. Unfortunately, the good stuff leaves first. But unlike wine, in which yeast continues fermenting in the bottle, whiskey’s alcohol content is too high to support any organisms. As long as the cap or cork is secure enough not to let in much oxygen, the age of the bottle will not affect the quality or taste of its contents.
Pre-prohibition whiskeys are of great historical interest. The value of antique whiskey is influenced by factors such as rarity and the reputation of the brand, but it’s not easy to predict. An extremely rare single-malt whiskey from the 1930’s recently sold for $100,000.
Bryan Fite probably has quite a few old friends coming out of the woodwork. Well, we certainly wouldn’t mind sitting down with Mr. Fite and cracking one of those bottles, and pouring it over one of our handcrafted whiskey stones. Maybe we’ll give him a ring, just to see how he’s doing.