2016-04-19-2019-02-22 --- 2019-02-22 23:03:28--15
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LOT :316
Estimate EUR : €6,000.00 - €10,000.00
Auction Date : 19-04-2016


40 Under Proof (34%abv), fill level to shoulder, with driven cork showing visible shrinking, all consistent with age. Original label present but worn. Extremely scarce.

Distilled in 1916 by the (long vanished) Bandon distillery in West Cork and bottled by the (long vanished) Nuns Island Distillery in Galway, the bottle may be the oldest unopened expression of Irish single pot still whiskey sold in modern times. Originally owned by a Captain R.E. Palmer and bottled by the Galway Persse family who once supplied their whiskeys to the House of Commons, the bottle was even strangely proximate to the turbulent politics of its age. Its distillerys owner, Richard Allman, had even served as Liberal MP for Bandon during the rise of Charles Stewart Parnells Home Rule movement and, aside from its connections to Irish history, the distillery he presided over ran almost directly alongside the legendary rise and tragic collapse of Irish whiskey itself.

Founded in 1826 following the 1823 excise reforms often credited as the midwife of Irish whiskeys first great global boom, the Bandon distillery survived the rise of Father Mathews Cork Total Abstinence Society, the Famine, and stiff competition from its enormous Dublin and Belfast competitors to become one of the most celebrated Irish producers of the age. When the English journalist Alfred Barnard (often regarded as the father of whiskey commentary) came to visit in 1886, he described it as the most successful rural distillery in Ireland, with barley plentifully supplied by local farmers and an internal village of around 200 employees including coopers, carpenters, coppersmiths, maltmen, and of course, the master distiller C. McPherson. The malting facility was second only to Guinness and aside from its own barrels, the distillery also imported specially sherry-seasoned casks from Cadiz. Although this is now common practice in the world of fine whiskeys, Allman claimed to have been one of the first distillers in Ireland to do so. At a time

when Irish whiskey was outselling Scotch three cases to one, Allmans whiskey even earned a popular following in Scotland and would have been a key brand there during the 1860s when, according to Scottish whisky historian Charles MacLean, imported Irish whiskeys like Allmans were actually outselling their Caledonian cousins in Edinburgh itself!

From the perspective of whiskey history, however, the bottles real importance to posterity may actually lie with the writing on the label. Today, the resurgent Irish whiskey industry and its admirers are very eager to talk about a style called Irish pot still or single pot still whiskey, a uniquely Hibernian varietal closely tied to the recipes and procedures that first put Irish whiskey into snifters around the globe. Although it must

be batch-distilled in a pot still (a device also used to make almost all single malts and many artisan American whiskeys), the style is actually defined by the grain ingredients run through that still (a mixture of malt with a fine grist of green unmalted barley for texture and spice). Whiskey made in a pot still without the green barley is not, by this definition, Irish pot still whiskey. Originally introduced as a means of dodging the notorious Malt Tax, the use of raw barley has been a feature of Irish whiskey since the 18th century and although the less efficient green barley produced lower yields, the practice was so ingrained in the taste

of many Irish whiskeys that the practice remained even after the tax was repealed in October 1880 (coincidently only a few months after Richard Allman entered parliament).

Although the recipe was undoubtedly a staple of Irish distilling, the practices of the Bandon distillery provide critics with one of the clearest arguments that, even in Victorian times, this ingredient-based definition was clearly understood as, according to Barnard, the distillery separated its barley into raw gristing and malting facilities and ran them through two distinct runs in order to make both Old Pot Still Whisky, designated Irish, and Pure Malt Whisky, both of a superior quality. The bottle here comes from their Pure Irish Pot Still stock. To contemporary connoisseurs, this bottle is arguably a touchstone to the provenance of Irish whiskeys distinct culinary heritage.

For all that history, however, the Bandon distillery was hit by the same twentieth century factors of war, prohibition, and competition from cheaper more rapidly produced blended whiskeys that decimated the countrys old pot still classics and almost resulted in the extinction of the style. In 1925 Bandon was forced to close, missing its own centenary by just a few months. Trading as Allman, Dowden and Co., its agents continued selling off stocks until 1939, which is most likely the reason for this expressions bottling in Galway (on the grounds of yet another proud Irish pot still distillery closed during the collapse). Very few bottles have survived to modernity and, although the Old Still Bar (converted from the distillery offices) proudly retained a bottle until 1971, most of the contents boiled away in a tragic fire that struck the pub that year.

Like the Irish pot still industry itself, the once notorious liquid pride of Cork simply evaporated through the bottles cork and left the world without a taste. That is, until the discovery of this bottle today.


Hammer Price : €6,600.00
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