Bill's eMailbox: Seals of disapproval

Q: I actually have two separate bottles to discuss with you.

I have a 1916 Kentucky bourbon bottle with bourbon still inside. The seal broke when we moved from our house to an apartment and part of the cork is floating. The second is Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon Whisky 1955. This seal is broken, too, but (the bourbon was) not tasted. the sticker on the seal gave way.

Both bottles have a beautiful, rich-colored bourbon inside, about the same color of iced tea. I'm interested in the value of these unique finds, especially the 1916 bourbon, since this was prior to Prohibition, so I understand this is extremely rare.

-- Melissa A. Burpo, Martinsville, IN

A: No matter whether you're talking about stamps, action figure toys or lovely whiskies, the value is greatly diminished once the wrappings or seals are broken.

However, I can point you to a bourbon authority who can give you some official guidance. He is Michael R. Veach, Special Collections Assistant for the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, KY, and a member of the Bourbon Hall of Fame since 2006. Mike is an expert on identifying and evaluating rare bourbons.

Incidentally, you can go here to read my report on a "timeline tasting" of old and rare Old Forester bourbons held at the Filson.

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