Friday, January 16, 2015

A. H. Hirsch Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey Has Left the Building



It's always nice to know how a story ends, so I am pleased to report that the producer of A. H. Hirsch Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey at long last has no more of it to sell. The last three bottles, numbered 998, 999 and 1,000, are now owned by a small restaurant chain called The White Chocolate Grill. The picture above is of the tag on the box containing bottle number 1,000.

I won't try to tell the whole story of A. H. Hirsch Bourbon here, but I wrote a book about it if you're interested.

The label above is, by the way, wrong on at least two counts, both in the second line. The bourbon was famously distilled in Pennsylvania, not Kentucky, and though it was always claimed to be pot distilled it was, in fact, not.

In 2009, Preiss Imports decanted their remaining stock of the 16-year-old gold foil expression and rebottled it in crystal bottles, which they packed in wooden humidors, with a suggested retail price for the set of $1,499 each. The sets were individually numbered and there were exactly 1,000 of them.The humidor set was the last release of A. H. Hirsch Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

In 2011, Henry Preiss sold his company and his interest in A. H. Hirsch to Anchor, including the remaining inventory of Hirsch humidors.

In April, 2013, in a thread on StraightBourbon.Com, it was established that Anchor still had 800 of the humidor sets in inventory, still at the original price. The mystery at the time was why they didn't lower the price and blow them out. It had taken four years to sell 20 percent of the inventory, how long would it take to sell the rest?

There were also reports of a few more in distributor and retailer inventories, but no more than a handful. Nobody was coming off the original price by very much. The lowest retail price reported was about $1,350.

The White Chocolate Grill originally wanted to buy two sets but their distributor, per the producer, said they had to buy a four-set case, which they agreed to do. Bottle number 997 was accidentally broken by the distributor. (A moment of silence, please.) So they got three.

When The White Chocolate Grill tried to buy more they were told that was it, the cupboard is now bare.

They paid $925 each for them. Presumably, that was the original wholesale price. It is available at The White Chocolate Grill in Scottsdale, AZ. They plan to charge $89 for a 1.5 oz. pour.

This news just means the producer, Anchor, has exhausted its inventory. It is possible there are still a handful out there in distributor or retailer inventories.

There is a secondary market in A. H. Hirsch and bottles have also shown up in some auctions. The market seems to value the humidor and crystal bottle at $0. The value is in the whiskey, which Bourbon Blue Book shows at $883 for the 16-year-old gold foil, regardless of the packaging.

27 comments:

Stilldaddy said...

I know of one here in CT that's selling for $1200. I'd love to be able to sample it, but not anywhere near that price. I'm sure it's good, per the myriad high reviews and praises (and even a book written about it), but that's a bit steep for a bottle of anything.

Anonymous said...

I read your book. Found it to be very interesting and enlightening. Oh by the way you said you have two bottles of the Hirsch but none of the Very, Very Old Fitz. I have two of those. Both are outstanding whiskeys and I think taste very similar.

Craig Hochscheid said...

The former owners of the Cork N Bottle have some Hirsch locked in a bank vault

http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2015/01/12/whos-your-pappy-cork-n-bottle-family-in-court.html?page=all

Sheep said...

I know where there is one bottle. $1200. Just can't pull the trigger on it.

Anonymous said...

Hi...I have a bottle of A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16 year bourbon...or so it says. I cannot find a label that looks like the one on my bottle. It has A.H. Hirsch signed at the top and Reserve and also 16 years old and distilled in the spring of 1974..the usual stuff. Just can't find that label. Now i know that it was bottled more than once. I purchased it off a top shelf at the Poajuaque pueblo around 2000 for $75 and was ticked off I had to pay that for a good bourbon. Obviously I need to drink more. How do I tell if it is authentic or not? Thanks for your time. Sherrieberrie

Anonymous said...

I own an unopened bottle .

Deno Cole said...

I tried a shot ($250 per 1.5 oz. shot) of the A.H. Hirsch 16 year Reserve at a bourbon bar while visiting Lexington, KY, after hearing the story from the bartender about how A.H. Hirsch is considered by aficionados to be the best bourbon ever made, with a whole book dedicated to its legend. I was impressed, but it was not worth the pricetag. I would not spend $1,200 for a bottle, unless I could sell it for a profit. Without considering its exclusivity, it is probably worth $100 per bottle on pure taste alone. I kept the glass it was served in so I could enjoy the aroma for a few more days! My suggestion is you save your money and buy 12 $100 bottles of other good bourbon!

Anonymous said...

My liquor store has this bourbon in their deli to sample for $70 for a 1oz pour. I might have to try it.

Richard Anderson said...

I have an unopened bottle of AH Hirsh 16 year old gold foil. I had a chance to buy one of the last two bottles in Idaho for $250 in 2008. I passed. In 2010 I bought the last bottle in the state for $450. Always thought I would open it for a special occasion but the value is climbing so fast, I'll eventually sell. Bookers and Bakers are good enough sippers for me.

Richard Anderson said...

I have a bottle of AH Hirsh 16 year old gold foil. I had a chance to buy one of the two last bottles in Idaho in 2008 for $250 but passed. In 2010 I bought the last bottle for $450 and thought I'd open it for some special occasion. With the price escalating, I'll probably eventually well it. I enjoy sipping Bakers and Bookers when doing bourbons and could buy almost a case of each for what I'll get for the Hirsh.

Ryan Ota said...

I noticed on the Humidor packaging that the bottle says Bardstown, KY. Was the last batch bottled there instead of Buffalo Trace? If so, what distillery?

Chuck Cowdery said...

For the humidor edition, bottles from the Buffalo Trace bottling were dumped and re-bottled, either at Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (Willett) or Bardstown Barrel Selections (Redemption).

ossieshan said...

In Panama and saw a bottle of AH Hirsch 16 and the three of us asked how much a shot was. The employee looked it up in the system and it was not mentioned. I said well that means we get a free shot. The guy started pooring two shot glasses of it and we quickly reminded him that we were three and not two, so he poured a third glass for free.Need I say we really enjoyed the taste and were laughing about it all night

Z said...

I had a couple bottles 10-15 years ago. ~$80 back then. My favorite bourbon, but not worth what it costs now.

georgetstagg said...

I was fortunate enough to buy 6 bottles of the gold foil for $85 each, five or so years ago from my preferred liquor store in Houston. I thought then I would hang on to them since I thought they would become collectible. I can't believe what people are paying!! I still have them as well as quite a few George T Stagg bottles all the way back to the 2002 release. Best investments I have ever made! I love the Stagg, but I never opened the Hirsch to see how it tastes...

Fellow said...

About 8 years ago or so I took a year off before finishing undergrad and landed a job selling bulk wine and spirits for a company in my hometown. It was kind of a ramshackle sort of business that was being rebuilt from mismanagement, but that meant there were literally pallets of random wine and liquors that had been gathering dust for years (picture finding a case of Macallan Cask Strength from the mid-nineties under a crate of corked, 4 bucks a bottle Yellow-tail wine and you get an idea of their warehouse at the time).

Anyway, for a bonus that year the co-owner handed me a dusty old bottle with a *cutesy* wax wrapped stopper and yellowing label; to this day I'm convinced he had no idea what it was giving it to me. This was before I was a serious high end whiskey person as well, and so that New Year's Eve me and a friend killed that whole bottle of 16 year while smoking a couple of Rocky Patels...kind of wish I'd sipped it a bit more, but what an experience. After many bourbons and scotches it still remains the finest American whiskey I've ever tasted (which puts it in strong contention for the best I've ever tasted, period).

Maybe someday if the market crashes back down a bit I'll re-add a bottle to the collection. Until then, it is a much savored memory.

Doc wine said...

While disposing of some out of date wines in my cellar came across a bottle of Hirsch Reserve . The label says it is " Pot Stilled Sour Mash Straight Bourbon Whiskey"...16 Years Old...Distilled in the Spring of 1974. Bottled by Hirsch Distillers, ,Lawrenceburg Kentucky.
45.8% Alc/Vol , 91.6 Proof ..750 ml.
I am a wine importer and somewhat new to high end Bourbon...but learning fast. Can anyone tell me if this bottle I found is the special reserve you all are discussing? Thanks

Chuck Cowdery said...

Sounds like it. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

I am not ashamed to admit I collect and drink high end bourbon. Because I can. I bought a gold foil bottle for 1400 1 year ago. I like to drink a bottle and have a bottle. so have yet to open mine. In vegas they had an unopened decanter set. I had won 2K so paid the 200 dollars to watch them open the bottle and pour a glass for me. The all watched. My wife videoed it. The bourbon was what it was-just awesome. Best our I ever had for what ever reason. They also offered me a 400$ poor of 2008 pappy 23. That was ridiculous. I will say every time i look at that unopened bottle I can remember the taste. I will bu another bottle. Because I can.

Anonymous said...

Hi craziness here my husband ran to get us some refried beans at a Mexican restaurant in Palm Springs, while waiting for his order he saw a bottle of the 16-year-old Hirsch he began talking to the bartender and owner and they said They really didn't know much about it and don't sell bourbon, tequila is more their thing and they offered him a shot and enjoyed one with him . We are not strangers to Hersh back in the 90s we collected it from Cork and bottle anyway long story short he after asking how much they sell it for they said 8 or 10$ a shot so he offered them $75 for the bottle and they sold it to him :-)

Chuck Cowdery said...

I love happy endings.

Unknown said...

I still have a black wax japan, red wax 20, blue wax, gold wax, gold foil USA, and 6 Gold foil eu bottles. Started with many more. Used to have the other labels and some 19s. Sold some to finance trips, drank most with friends.

Unknown said...

I still have a black wax japan, red wax 20, blue wax, gold wax, gold foil USA, and 6 Gold foil eu bottles. Started with many more. Used to have the other labels and some 19s. Sold some to finance trips, drank most with friends.

David Lubel said...

Chuck,
I really enjoyed reading about everyone's A H Hirsch experiences. I had 4 bottles I bought about 6-7 years ago for $60.00 each from 3 different places. I opened 1 bottle when my oldest daughter
got engaged 3-1/2 years ago. Great bourbon! I still have the other 3.
I would be interested in emailing Georgestagg who says he still has 2002 Stagg releases. I never tasted until the 2003 release. I do have a number of bottles from Stagg releases since 2004. I would love to try the 2002 release.

Longhorn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Longhorn said...

I have a foil and a red wax 16 yo bottles. Plus two wax 20 yo. Over the last 15 years I've consumed 2 16yo's. The second was opened with my father for celebrating the birth of our child. Love the rich history and the memories this spirit conjures up. Kudos to Henry P with his vision!

Jesse Fenwick said...

I still have a Black Wax (First bottles sent to Japan), some Gold Wax and Gold Foils, and a partial of my last 20yr. I have finished the Blue wax, the 19yr and the 1 bottle of Boone's Knoll I had.

I am considering selling some of the Gold Foils to Cache Bourbon bar in Little Rock, AR ;)