WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night at a benefit organized by the distilled spirits industry, a bottle of the first George Washington Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey produced at Mount Vernon in over 200 years sold for $100,000 – a world record for a bottle of American whiskey.
The auction lot, which included bottle numbers one and two of a limited edition of 24 bottles, was produced in October 2003 by a team of master distillers from America’s most famous brands*, aged in a specially-made oak cask for more than two years on the grounds of Mount Vernon and hand-bottled and labeled on September 27, 2006.
Publisher Marvin Shanken, chairman of M. Shanken Communications, took the high bid of $100,000. Shanken founded and developed the premiere lifestyle and business publications for the wine and spirits industry, including Wine Spectator and Impact. Bottle number one, donated in Mr. and Mrs. Shanken’s name, will go on permanent display in the George Washington Distillery Museum, which will open to the public in April 2007. Bottle number two is for Shanken’s collection.
“It’s a great pleasure to be supportive of Historic Mount Vernon’s education mission,” Shanken said, noting that all proceeds from the auction go to support Mount Vernon’s national educational initiative, To Keep Him First. “At the same time, I’m proud to acquire the very first bottle of George Washington’s whiskey in 200 years.”
“We came together to celebrate George Washington’s leadership, service and entrepreneurship, but also to celebrate an industry that values integrity, heritage and responsibility,” said Distilled Spirits Council President Peter H. Cressy. “The success of this auction represents the fervor there is for George Washington’s endeavors, and we’re thrilled with the level of participation we’ve received. Mr. Shanken’s contribution is a wonderful manifestation of his philanthropic spirit. “
Ivan Menezes, President and CEO of Diageo North America, purchased bottle number three for $25,000.
Mark Smith, Vice President of Brown-Forman Corporation, purchased bottle number five for $12,000.
In addition to the $137,000 raised from the auction of George Washington Distillery Straight Rye Whiskey, another almost $13,000 was generated from the sale of limited edition bottles and mini-bottle gift sets of George Washington Distillery Vatted American Whiskey – a unique blend of eleven great American bourbons and whiskeys.
The Spirit of Mount Vernon dinner raised more than $200,000 in table sales – raising the total tally to more than $350,000 raised for Mount Vernon during both the dinner and auction.
*Following is a list of master distillers who participated in distilling George Washington’s Straight Rye Whiskey recipe in October 2003: Joseph Dangler-Virginia Gentleman; Chris Morris- Jack Daniel’s; Lincoln Henderson-Woodford Reserve; David Pickerell- Maker’s Mark; Jerry Dalton- Jim Beam; Ken Pierce- Very Old Barton; Gerry Webb- I.W. Harper and Geo. A Dickel; James Graf and Raylene Perry- Platte Valley; Jimmy Russell- Wild Turkey; Ron Call- Cruzan Rum; Willie Ramos- Bacardi.