What might very well be one of the oldest intact bottles of single malt pot still Irish whiskey will be up for auction in Dublin on April 6.
Bottled 100 years ago in 1916 at the Nuns Island distillery in Galway, the whiskey is one of very few surviving examples of Allman’s Pot Still Irish whiskey, produced by Allman’s Bandon Distillery in Co. Cork.
The bottle, originally distilled for a Captain R.E. Palmer, was discovered last year at an auction in London by Willie Murphy, a collector from Wexford, who is currently one of its part owners.
As he noted in a conversation with the Irish Times, there are some older surviving bottles of Irish whiskey out there, but the history behind this bottle makes it especially unique.
The pure Irish pot still whiskey was distilled by the Allman family’s Bandon distillery, long gone but one of the most successful of its day, which had quite an interesting backstory.
In 1820, a woman gave shelter to a Catholic priest, Father Collins, who was attempting to flee an Orange mob. She hid Fr. Collins in her home for three days, and as a gesture of thanks he prayed “that your children may make riches out of water.”
Six years later, her son, James C. Allman, converted an old Bandon mill into a whiskey distillery, and began turning water into whiskey, which in turn led to riches.
According to Ireland’s Whiskey Trail, the Bandon Distillery went on to become one of the most successful in Ireland, with an annual output of over half a million gallons, a thriving export market – even to Scotland, and the second largest malt house in Ireland, second only to the Guinness malt house at St. James’ Gate. It employed as many as 400 people at a time, and was one of the main buyers for local farms. At the time the whiskey up for auction was distilled, the distillery was owned by Richard Allman, who was a liberal MP during the time of Charles Steward Parnell.
Sadly, the Bandon Distillery did not survive to see its centenary, shutting down production in 1925 due to the effects of war, prohibition, and the overall decline of Ireland’s once booming whiskey industry.
This, the Adams catalogue notes, is likely why it was bottled in Galway instead of Cork. The Nuns Island Distillery, also long gone, was owned by the Persse family, who at one point in time supplied the House of Commons with their stock.
There are very few surviving examples of Bandon whiskey. One of the best know, owned by the Old Still Bar, which resides in the building that once housed Bandon Distillery’s offices, was severely damaged in a fire that broke out in the pub in 1971.
The recently discovered bottle will be up for auction by Adams in Dublin on April 6, with an expected price range of $6,800 – $11, 400 (€6,000 - €10,000).
More information is available on the Adams website.
Would you bid on this potable piece of Irish history? Share your thoughts in the comment section.