Monday 26 August 2019

'Clermont' whiskey flies off top shelf for €23k

Rare bottle is star lot at auction of memorabilia from well-known Blackrock public house

Francis Carroll

What to do with a €23,000 bottle of whiskey you've just bought? Drink it? Pour it on a Christmas pudding? Sell it on?

Well, that's a possible conundrum for the person who shelled out the big bucks for an extremely rare 1880s bottle of Cassidy & Co. Monasterevin whiskey, star lot in an auction of items from The Clermont in Blackrock.

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The hand-blown, unopened bottle, is one of only two known such bottles - the other is in the Irish Whiskey museum.

Predicted before the auction in Victor Mee's, Belturbet, Co. Cavan, to sell for between €5,000 and €10,000, the bottle of County Kildare whiskey far exceeded those expectations.

As many bidders battled it out, the hammer finally came down on the winning €23,000 bid.

'We knew this bottle was extremely special, as it is one of the rarest we have come across in many years of dealing in whiskey and pub memorabilia,' remarked auctioneer Victor Mee.

'We are delighted to say it will stay in Ireland,' he added.

That's all very well. But does it taste much different to Jameson (€25), Paddy (€27) or Powers Gold (€20)? Prices, for 70cl bottles, taken from a well-known supermarket website. Prices correct at time of going to press.

There were no computers around when the whiskey in question was matured by the Cassidy family, who made whiskey at their mill from 1784 to 1921.

In recent years, the Ballykelly Mill has been restored by businessman Paddy McKillen. He plans to open a distillery and visitor centre on the site.

While hardly a snip at €23,000, the price pales into insignificance compared to the £848,000stg which was paid for the Macallan Valerio Adami 1926, even though that whisky has one less letter!

It became the world's most expensive bottle of whisky when sold at auction in Edinburgh last year.

The whisky was in a vat for 60 years from 1926 then bottled, and experts decribed it as the Holy Grail of whiskies. Only twelves bottles were produced.

Such whiskies are collectors' items because of their rarity and will probably not actually be drunk, said an expert at time of the Edinburgh auction, so therin lies a possible outcome for the Cassidy spirit.

And, returning to 'The Clermont Collection Rare Advertising, Pub Memorabilia and Architectural Fittings' sale, the whiskey wasn't the only notable purchase.

Many other pieces from the seaside watering hole surpassed their estimates.

Two rare James McKendry 'Ballymena Importers of' advertising mirrors sold for more than €4,000 each, having been predicted to go for between €1,200 to €1,800.

'We enjoyed some tense bidding on key pieces from this legendary pub, with former patrons, avid collectors, and local residents alike all keen to get their hands on a piece of Irish hospitality history,' Mr Mee added.

The Argus