Prohibition ended on December 5th, 1933 — a whopping 85 years ago, almost to the day. And while that date was a huge boon to bootleggers everywhere, it also marks a kind of stopping point for historical-minded liquor collectors. That is to say, most distilled spirits brewed legally prior to the start of Prohibition didn’t make it out the other side, with many companies that crafted them folding and most of the bottles and barrels having been destroyed and/or consumed by ravenous speakeasy patrons. But, somehow, a few managed to survive, unbeknownst to the public for decades. Now, the largest stash of pre-Prohibition whiskey ever discovered is headed to auction.
Excavated from a hidden 10-bolt vault behind bookshelves somewhere in California, this legendary haul includes over 40 cases of whiskey, most over a century old at this point. But don’t expect to see any familiar faces, as these obscenely rare labels have been defunct for literal generations at this point. Still — whether you’ve got your sights set on a bottle of Good Old Guckenheimer, Green River, Old Style Brookhill, or Hermitage Pure Rye Whiskey — these bottled gems are less about drinking what’s inside (though we’d love to try them, if even just a sip) and more about what they represent: the trials and triumphs of American history.