Sixteen bottles of light and dark rum dating back to 1780

Sixteen bottles of light and dark rum dating back to 1780 – the oldest ever to go under the hammer – are to be auctioned this week at Christie’s in London

The bottles were discovered under a thick coating of cobwebs and dust by chance in 2011 at Harwood House in Leeds during an inventory of the cellar. The rum is believed to have been distilled in Barbados, shipped to Britain in barrel then bottled at Harwood House. The auction takes place this Thursday as part of a rare spirits sale, which includes 1910, 1938, 1956 souvenir editions of Johnnie Walker and a decanter of 1940 Macallan.

A year ago, a dozen bottles of rum from the same collection sold for over six times their asking price at Christie’s fetching £78,255, with the lots making £8,225 a piece. Proceeds from the auction, in which eight bottles of light and eight bottles of dark rum will be sold, will go towards the Geraldine Connor Foundation to help disenfranchised young people in the performing arts. The single bottles lots have an estimate of £1,500-2,500, while the two bottle lots are expected to fetch between £3000-5,000. Across the pond in New York, two sales will take place on 12 and 13 December. The “fine and rare wines” sale on 12 December features rare formats of Masseto, three centuries of Madeira including a 1715 Terrantez, and six bottles of 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

The “connoisseur collection” sale a day later boasts a selection of every cru that Domaine Méo-Camuzet produces, including multiple vintages of Richebourg. The sale also features large-format Bollinger, Krug and Louis Roederer Cristal, Nebuchadnezzars of Lynch-Bages from 1985 and 1986, and every vintage between 1997-2010 of Echézeaux les Rouges du Bas.

2014 by Lucy Shaw

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