Old Ingledew Whiskey: Currently Believed to be the Oldest Known Whiskey in Existence.
Marlborough, MA – April 23, 2021 – Skinner is pleased to offer this historic bourbon whiskey at auction. Skinner’s Rare Spirits expert, Joseph Hyman, remarks “The Old Ingledew Whiskey, bottled by Evans & Ragland, Lagrange GA, c. 1860s, is thought to be the only surviving bottle of a trio from the cellar of J.P. Morgan gifted in the 1940s to Washington power elite.”
Carbon 14 dating conducted in 2021 in collaboration with the University of Georgia indicates, with the highest probability, that the whiskey was produced between 1762-1802. The raw data was subsequently evaluated by the University of Glasgow and determined to be Bourbon with a 53% probability of being produced between 1763-1803, which places it in the historical context of The Revolutionary War of the 1770s and the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s.
We assess that the whiskey was produced circa the late 1700s. Standard practice was to store spirits in large glass demijohns after being aged in oak barrels.
The Old Ingledew was bottled by Evans & Ragland, Grocers and Commission Merchants, LaGrange, Georgia. Archival information indicates that Evans & Ragland were active in business circa the 1860s-70s, and the bottle is consistent with glass manufacture circa 1840-70.
The bottle is reported to have been purchased by financier John Pierpont Morgan during one of his frequent visits to Georgia. It is believed that his son, Jack Morgan, later gifted this bottle to James Byrnes of South Carolina and two sister bottles to Franklin D. Roosevelt (a distant cousin to Morgan) and Harry S. Truman, circa 1942-44.
Mr. Byrnes had been a US Congressman, US Senator, and Supreme Court Justice before WWII. When the US entered the war in 1942, Byrnes resigned from the court at the behest of his good friend, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to become Director of War Mobilization. Upon Roosevelt’s death in 1945, he was appointed Secretary of State by his other good friend, Harry S. Truman. After leaving the Cabinet in 1947, Byrnes moved back to South Carolina and ran for governor, as which he served from 1951-55. After leaving office, Byrnes gifted the bottle to close friend and neighbor Francis Drake. Drake and his descendants, being exclusively Scotch drinkers, safeguarded the bottle for three generations.
Note: This post has been updated to reflect revised information. Data has been reinterpreted by the University of Glasgow.
Post-Auction update: This bottle sold for $137,500 on June 30, 2021.
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