Baker's Pure Rye 1847
The Provenance

Small label affixed to back of bottle documenting sale in 1943 in New York.
“Purchased November 1943 from the Estate of Mrs. Henry Walters,” says a small label on the back. Henry Walters was the son of W. T. Walters. Which means this bottle came from the personal collection of the family that originally made it.

Henry Walters died in 1931, and when his wife Sadie passed 10 years later, portions of the estate were liquidated in high-end sales. In November 1943, the Walters cellar was up for grabs at a prestigious event in New York. Held at the Ritz-Carlton, it was even covered in The New Yorker. They wrote of the “Tasting and Sale of the Wines and Spirits from the Estate of Mrs. Henry Walters,” whose husband had left behind a “cellar of monumental proportions."

The sale’s catalog survives in rare libraries [1]:
 
Cataologue of the Wine and Spirits from the Estate of Mrs. Henry Walters, Purchased and Sold by Mssrs. Greig, Lawrence & Hoyt, Ltd.  Identifies cattalogue as written by Peter Greig, held at the Ritz Carlton NY, Monday and Tuesday, November 29-30, 1943

Neat, right? And listed on page 48 we find:
 
Described as: Fifths, some bottles without labels, purchased June, 1902, from Broderick, McRae & Co., Baltimore. About 64 bottles. Sales restricted to two bottles a customer.

"Baker's Pure Rye Whiskey 1847."

 

This bottle came from that sale. It was purchased in New York by the step-grandfather of the man who, in 2013, emailed the L.A. Whiskey Society asking for our opinion on it. The bottle had been passed down from his step-grandfather, to his stepfather and mother, to him.

To blow my own horn a little, I have extensive experience in authenticating rare whiskeys as well as busting counterfeiters. And when I first saw this bottle, my heart leapt. It had all the hallmarks of the real deal -- but I also know that exact feeling is the downfall of every "mark" duped by a clever fake. So I put those feeling aside, and did some painstakingly critical, objective analysis. Eventually, I was comfortable giving my official support for the bottle's authenticity. About a year later, the owner asked if I'd like to make an offer on it, and we worked out a deal.


So, let's talk about how we know the bottle is real. The history and provenance are strongly documented [2], which is critical to any ultra-vintage bottle, but the most important thing is the physical evidence itself.
  
 
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[1] The full catalog pages showing additional auction lots won't be published here in an effort to keep counterfeiters from getting ideas.
[2] There are more details confirming the chain of ownership not published here, as they're in line with expectations, and not that interesting, and arent these pages already long enough?

 

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