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Old Ingledew Whiskey: Currently Believed to be the Oldest Known Whiskey in Existence

Old Ingledew whiskey bottle

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.

Graph of the calibration
*University of Glasgow calibration showing an 81.1%
probability of being produced between 1763-1803. This estimate was revised by the University of Glasgow to be 53% probability.

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.

Label on the back of the bottle
Back label reading: “This Bourbon was probably made prior to 1865 and was in the cellars of Mr. John Pierpont Morgan from whose estate it was acquired upon his death. As far as is known, there were no Bourbon distilleries in Georgia after the Civil War.”

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.

This bottle will be offered at auction in the June 22-30 Rare Spirits online auction with an estimate of $20,000-40,000.

Note: This post has been updated to reflect revised information. Data has been reinterpreted by the University of Glasgow.

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10 thoughts on “Old Ingledew Whiskey: Currently Believed to be the Oldest Known Whiskey in Existence

  1. Please contact me regarding this item. The whiskey previously owned by and JP Morgan. Can’t find it on your website. Thanks, Steve

    • Hello Steve, This bottle will be offered at auction in the June 22-30 Rare Spirits online auction. This sale is not yet available to view online, but please check back again soon! You can also subscribe to the email list to receive our announcements about upcoming Skinner Rare Spirits auctions. Thank you!

  2. How would I go about finding out about a few old bottles of liquor that I have as well? Everything is sealed and I believe from the 1950s or earlier except for two bottles of Hennessy cognac from the 60s and 70s that I have that are sealed as well.I have one bottle that’s particularly much older I believe and I’m excited to find out what it is.

  3. Would someone from Skinners be available for an interview on @irishwhiskeyreview ? To discuss the bottle and other whiskies auctioned

  4. We have a bottle never opened and in a wooden box with a glass door – Chevas Brothers Limited – Royal Salute 21 years old Scotch Whiskey in a blue bottle. It has WATE England on the bottom. Also, it has a Royal Salute bag with gold tassels in the box. So this makes this 64 years old. I believe this is from a special occasion in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s royal coronation. Is this bottle worth anything? We are in our 70’s and would like to sell it. Thank you for any information you can give us. If it is not worth anything hubby said he open and enjoy it.

    • Hello Alice! Thanks very much for your message. If you are interested in more information about your whiskey, please submit images, a description and any information you have to our Fine Wines & Rare Spirits Department at finewines@skinnerinc.com and we will return any information that we can to you as well as an auction estimate. Thank you!

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