Rare pre-Prohibition whiskeys offer a taste of American history

Rare pre-Prohibition whiskeys offer a taste of American history
Christie's via CNN
Christie's will auction off 40 cases of unopened bonded whiskey bottled between 1908 and the 1930s, including a lot of Hermitage whiskey pints distilled around 1914.

When Jean-Baptiste (J.B.) Leonis, the early 20th-century builder, banker, and wine and liquor merchant who founded the town of Vernon, California, spotted Prohibition on the horizon, he was not about to take any chances with his beloved whiskey.

At both his home in tony Hancock Park and his weekend retreat in Little Tujunga Canyon (where his neighbor was Cecil B. DeMille), Leonis commissioned the construction of secret vaults. Lurking behind trick bookcases and secured by heavy metal doors and combination locks — the kind of high-test armor that Leonis, as a banker, was able to procure — his stockpiled booze remained virtually untouched until the 2017 death of Leonis’ grandson, Leonis C. Malburg, a one-time mayor of Vernon.

On Dec. 7,