This is a LIVE event. Guests can choose to log in to the live-streamed production and place bids in real time against whiskey lovers from around the nation.

Louisville, KY, Sept. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

The Speed Art Museum’s annual bourbon auction, which takes place Sept 23, will auction off some of the world’s most hard-to-find whiskeys. Among the bottles is a rare, numbered $12,500 Van Winkle Family Reserve 15-year from the 1990s.

This year’s “Art of Bourbon” shelves are lined with an Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, a bottle of 1940s-1950s Private Stock Park & Tilford, a Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition bottle, the impossible-to-find 21-year Collectors Edition, and several exclusive experiences that allow winning bidders to get their custom barrel straight from the source. Auction catalogue:

The 2021 stunning lineup — comprised of rare bourbons, “dusties” and VIP experiences — may just be the best one yet. The auction is free to bid but registration is required at

- Auction: 7pm - 8:45pm EST

- Pre-registration for bidding is encouraged

- Bill Menish will serve as auctioneer

Elusive whisky and high-end bourbon packages are up for bid among the 40 lots. Here’s a taste of what to expect:

  • Van Winkle Family Reserve 15-yr No 841 - Lot 23 Estimate: $12,500
  • The Collector's Edition 21-Year Old Bourbon from the 1960s/early 70s. Distilled and bottled by Dowling Distillers. A collector’s item in every sense of the word. Estimate: $6,500 - $7,000
  • Old Forester BF 150 Special Edition Birthday Bourbon, 2021 12-yr - Lot 32. Bottled specifically for Brown-Forman’s 150th anniversary and only made for the distillery’s founding family members. Never sold in retail, very limited quantities produced. Estimate: $2,000
  • Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition - Lot 15 Estimate: $6,000
  • Jim Beam Lineage 15-yr, only available in duty-free stores. Estimate: $2,000
  • Park & Tilford Private Stock Estimate: $6,000
  • The Ultimate Maker’s Mark “Immersion Experience Barrel Selection with Rob Samuels” that includes custom Brook White artwork Estimate: $20,000
  • Rabbit Hole Single Barrel, picked with Founder and Whiskey Maker, Kaveh Zamanian Estimate: $20,000
  • Nearest Green Private Distillery Experience with Master Blender and 5th generation Nearest Green descendent, Victoria Eady Butler, Plus 1 Signed Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey Master Blend Trilogy Set (1 bottle each of its newest release, Master Blend, and the 1884 Small Batch & 1856 Premium Aged Whiskeys) Estimate: $2,000
  • 1-year-old Castle & Key Bourbon Barrel distilled by one of the most well-known Master Distillers in the industry, aged in the famous Castle and Key rickhouses for the next two years. Estimate: $2,000
  • Longbranch Bourbon and a Yeti Cooler with off-the-hook goodies from the Lone Star State curated by Matthew McConaughey Estimate: $800 plus bragging rights 

Bourbon royalty - families with last names like Van Winkle, Brown and Samuels - along with famed master distillers - have stepped up to support Kentucky’s iconic arts institution. Julian P. Van Winkle III, for example, is donating a Pappy bottle of 15-year and 12-year, lot b from his personal stash. Those bottles are expected to fetch $5,000 and $2,500 respectively at auction.

Van Winkle III acknowledged that while many collectors and enthusiasts will be eyeing these lots, he’s particularly pleased Pappy will be in the line-up. “The Van Winkle family has always believed in the mission of the Speed. Making sure Pappy is included in this year’s auction supports this worthwhile cause,” said Van Winkle, Pappy’s grandson and a third generation whiskey maker.

Online bids draw interest from serious bourbon enthusiasts and connoisseurs from around the nation. Bourbon experts say it’s a toss-up on which lot will command the most and steal the show. The event is curated with the support of Wall Street Journal-bestselling author and renowned bourbon critic Fred Minnick.

Collectors especially look to the Art of Bourbon for dusties, which are old bottles of whiskey that haven’t been in production for years. The bottle of Park & Tilford Private Stock exemplifies how sought after many of these brands have become because it represents a once forgotten era of American whiskey that is making a strong comeback — Blends of Straight Whiskeys.

“This bottle garnered a premium for the category in the 1940s and '50s. Today, it’s a piece of history in a bottle,” said Minnick.

Kaveh Zamanian, Rabbit Hole’s founder and whiskey maker, continues to ensure that Rabbit Hole plays a key role in supporting the Speed auction. This year, the company donated a barrel of Heigold Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey for a unique, exclusive personal blending experience where the winner actually picks the barrel with Zamanian’s guidance and insight. It doesn’t get more insider than this. Valued at $20,000, this experience sets the tone for other distillery donations.

“Just like bourbon, the Speed Art Museum is part of our community’s culture and heritage, said Zamanian. “Both the bourbon industry and the art world can work in tandem to attract tourism, foster dialogue and curiosity, and contribute to the vibrancy of our city. For these reasons, Rabbit Hole is proud to lend our support.”

“This event has become the nation’s premier nonprofit bourbon auction,” said Minnick. “Since 2018, I’ve worked closely with the Speed to auction the rarest whiskey bottles and experiences ever, raising nearly a half a million dollars for this institution.” All proceeds support education programs and exhibitions at the Speed.

Minnick, widely considered the world’s leading bourbon authority, is eyeing many of these lots closely, knowing that these bids can make a difference. “These rare whiskeys can make a huge impact on one of our country’s best art museums. We have the vintage and rare, and the new and unique. These sort of in-the-know bourbons don’t come up very often. This is truly the case where buying a coveted bottle of bourbon will go a long way to support the Speed’s mission.”

“On Sept. 23, collectors have the opportunity to buy and taste history, and this auction creates these opportunities,” said Jamar Mack, founder of KOBBE, Kentucky's Original Black Bourbon Enthusiasts, and one of several bourbon experts curating the auction. 

“It’s not every day you can get your hands on these bottles,” said Mack.

About the Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum. Its mission is to “invite everyone to celebrate art forever.” It is an independent and encyclopedic museum located on the campus of the University of Louisville. In 1927, Louisville philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed Art Museum with a belief in the power of art to change people’s lives. Current exhibitions at the Speed include Collecting – A Love Story: Glass from the Adele and Leonard Leight Collection and Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s The Unforeseen Wilderness. For more information, visit



This rare, numbered Van Winkle Family Reserve 15-year could fetch $12,500 at the upcoming Art of Bourbon auction. Art of Bourbon organizers expect the hard-to-find bottle of Park & Tilford Private Stock to bring $6,000 at the online auction on Sept 23.

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