The recent Kentucky Bourbon Benefit auction of rare and signed bottles and private barrel selections brought in more than $1.4 million to benefit Eastern Kentucky residents whose communities were ravaged by historic flooding.
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association partnered with Bourbon Crusaders, Bourbon curator Fred Minnick, and Louisville-based Westport Whiskey & Wine on the auction. And all the proceeds go directly to the state’s official Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund.
The floods hit overnight on July 27th, and by the next day, KDA members began sending totes, tankers and bottles of fresh water to the devastated areas. To date, their combined monetary and supply donations toward flood relief total more than $275,000, including a $100,000 cash donation from the Brown-Forman Corp. and $50,000 each from Beam Suntory, Four Roses and Campari/Wild Turkey.
“Once again, we are humbled and honored by the outpouring of support from the bourbon community to help our fellow Kentuckians,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “As a signature industry, it’s our duty to go above and beyond and give back, especially in times of need.”
Minnick, author and bourbon expert, said the recent auction’s $1.4-million total demonstrates the fabric of the distilling industry, whiskey enthusiasts, nonprofits and others in its realm.
“I am so proud of the bourbon community for its philanthropic heart and how it always shows up for people in need,” he said. “This Kentucky Bourbon Benefit is a testament to every collector and distiller in the bourbon community. However, I hope we don’t have to do this again, but if we do, the bourbon community will be there for people in need.”
R.J. Sargent, founder of the Bourbon Crusaders, said the outpouring of support is “what makes the bourbon community great – we celebrate in times of joy and rally together in times of need.”
A total of 3,626 bidders representing all 50 states and Washington D.C. bid on the auction’s 533 lots, placing more than 17,300 bids in total. Kentucky led the way with 775 registered bidders, followed by Ohio (295), Tennessee (203), Florida (198) and Indiana (190).
Highlights of the auction included:
- A private barrel selection at Four Roses Distillery, aged 13 to 16 years, sold for $157,250. The historic Anderson County distillery then contributed a matching barrel to the second-place bidder for the same price.
- Four Roses donated 15 other lots, including two rare 20-year old bottles that commemorated its new visitors center, a 109th Rose Bowl game package and the first six numbered bottles of its annual small batch limited release, bringing the distillery’s final tally to $357,909 raised.
- In addition, Four Roses is selling a limited number of 16-year-old private selection bottles on Monday, Aug. 29., at its Lawrenceburg and Cox’s Creek distilleries. The cost is $200 each, and all proceeds benefit the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund.
- Private barrel selections donated by Willett Distillery in Nelson County brought both the largest and third-largest bids on single items. Willett’s 10-year bourbon barrel experience sold for $168,099 and a 10-year rye barrel experience ended at $137,000.
- Winning lots from Angel’s Envy totaled more than $106,000, including a private barrel experience of its cask-strength finished Bourbon that went for $89,402 and two sets of 10 bottles from each year of its barrel proof bottles.
- Other private barrel experiences and their winning bids include: Wild Turkey, $48,000; Maker’s Mark, $46,000; New Riff, $45,000; Elijah Craig, $27,199; Bulleit Bourbon, $24,500 and Wilderness Trail, $20,000.
- Jefferson’s Ocean, which donated 300 bottles, and Smooth Ambler, with 372 bottles donated, helped draw in thousands of “Buy it Now” bidders. In total, the Jefferson’s bottles raised nearly $35,000 and Smooth Ambler’s brought in more than $21,000.
- Longtime Eastern Kentucky resident Barbara Lawwill donated her late husband’s collection of decanters and bottles, which raised $5,529 in total.
Gregory said many KDA members continue to organize and deliver needed supplies to Eastern Kentucky and several are exploring ways to help raise money and awareness during September, which is “Bourbon Heritage Month” in Kentucky.
“Making the world’s best bourbon is an honor and a privilege we don’t take lightly,” he said. “This effort has been proof once again that bourbon brings us together, in good times and bad. Please join us in keeping our families, friends and neighbors in Eastern Kentucky in your hearts and prayers.”
To find out more on help and relief, check out https://secure.kentucky.gov/FormServices/Finance/EKYFloodRelief. The state-operated fund assesses no fees on donations.