A case with 12 bottles of rum dating back to 1780 sold for whopping £78,255 ($128,000) at Christie’s wine and spirits auction in London, reaching more than six times the estimate. This is the oldest rum ever offered at auction, and now became even the most expensive in auction history. The bottles which laying in the cellar of a British stately home for more than 200 years were discovered “by chance” during an inventory of the cellar at Harewood House in 2011. Since the rum had gone out of fashion by the start of the 20th century, the bottles hidden away on a high shelf, were apparently forgotten.
Harewood House, located in the northern city of Leeds, is the seat of the Earl and Countess of Harewood. It was built in the mid-18th century with money made from the production of sugar, cotton, tobacco and rum at the 47 plantations owned by the Lascelles family in the West Indies, who owned thousands of slaves.
The records show that the rum was distilled in Barbados, then shipped in barrel to the Yorkshire estate, where it was bottled. the first record of the rum that is being auctioned is contained in a Harewood House cellar-book entry dated July 1805. It lists “226 bottles, dark and light 1780.” They were subsequently stored in two bins – “Bin 9 for the dark, Bin 12 for the light.”
Proceeds of the sale will go to the Geraldine Connor Foundation, a charity that helps disenfranchised young people to participate in the performing arts. Raised in Trinidad, Connor was a major figure in Yorkshire’s West Indian community.