by Shamim de Brún
Probably the oldest Redbreast in existence sold at Auction last night for €26,500 on an Irish whiskey auction website.
Redbreast is a brand of single pot still Irish Whiskey. Currently produced by Irish Distillers it was originally bottled by Gilbey’s, a Dublin spirits merchant. In the 1980s, the brand was purchased by Irish Distillers. It is the biggest selling single pot still Irish whiskey in the world.
Little is known about this bottle. Labelling was very different at the time and there were many documents lost to the whiskey dark ages. This is the time period whiskey enthusiasts have dubbed the era where whiskey production dwindled to the point of extinction before it roared back to life like a protagonist in a horror movie.
The bottle is most likely pre-world war two. The glass is moulded as opposed to blown. This was common in 1930s whiskey production. The greenish glass appears to be from around the time period and it’s sealed with a driven cork. Other Gilbeys products would have been sealed with wooden corks in the 1940s.
Bidding on this piece of history started at a humble €100. It quickly progressed to thousands. After a total of 67 bids, the piece was sold to an anonymous international buyer.
Irish Whiskey Auctions is a dedicated specialist website run by Katie and Anthony Sheehy in Dundalk. This is their biggest sale to date.
The anonymous Irish seller is a Redbreast collector. He bought the bottle himself a number of years ago. Sheehy said the seller has one of the most extensive Redbreast collections in the world.
This bottle far exceeded the reserve which was set at €12,000. Sheehy said the original guide price was 15 to 20 thousand but as this was unprecedented they weren’t sure how to proceed. The seller dropped the reserve price before the auction and the guide price was changed accordingly. Commenting on the final price Sheehy said “it was bizarre”.
The sale is another in a string of victories for Irish whiskey, which has gone from strength to strength since 2012.
Redbreast itself has been a major success for Irish whiskey since Irish Distillers purchased it from Gibney’s. There have been a series of special cask and single releases from the birdhouse, redbreast special fan release website.
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