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This historian is auctioning off his rare whiskey collection

Willett 25 Years Old Black Wax (1 750ml bottle)
Bonhams

Who better to collect and archive a selection of historical rare whiskeys than a trained historian? Professional historian and whiskey enthusiast Paul S. Hirsch has been scouring the U.S. for rare bottles for more than two decades, and a sample of his collection is now going up for auction.

Hirsch got into whiskey collecting after a hit-and-run accident in 2000 left him an amputee, and he wanted a way to connect with people. He developed a system for searching out rare whiskeys, identifying areas to hunt for bottles based on the rise and fall of their historical prosperity. While whisky today is highly in demand, there was a period from the 1960s through to the 1990s when it didn’t sell well and many bottles were taken off the shelves. Today, some of these older gems can still be found by those willing to track them down and ask around for stores that have stock of postwar whiskies.

“The hunt for American whiskeys provided my second education in history and a primary education in generosity and hospitality. As a disabled American, my mobility was, and remains, limited, but finding wonderful bottles of whiskey enabled me to host tastings, dinner parties, and post-meal sipping sessions that sometimes ran until morning,” said Hirsch. “My wonderful friends came to my apartment and sampled hundreds of bottles with me. In the process, I learned that the hunt was just a small part of being a whiskey geek; the most lovely and indelible experiences were shared with the people that helped me heal and advance. Pouring the whiskey, I’d discovered, was my way of thanking my friends, of bringing us closer together, and of celebrating or mourning the peaks and troughs of life.”

Over the last 25 years, Hirsch has amassed an impressive collection, and 47 of these bottles will go up for auction at Bonhams Skinner. Some of the treats of the collection include a Willett 25 Years Old Black Wax, Karuizawa 31 Years Old from 1981, and Willett Family Estate 21 Years Old Gold Wax. The auction runs until June 18.

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