Louisville Magazine

FEB 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 2.19 49 When Larry Rice was a kid growing up in Texas, his mom and grandma would always drag him to flea markets on weekends. He'd sit in the car and complain while they'd be in- side antiquing for old Pennsylvania Dutch finds. "And then you get bored and you start going in and then all of a sudden you get a weird little collection and the good deal kind of bites you," says Rice, who in 2011 opened the Silver Dollar, a honky- tonk-themed bourbon bar and restaurant in Clifton. At first, he got into pocket- knives. ese days, Rice does one or two road trips a year with his mom, antiquing across the country and collecting carnival knickknacks that his "better half," Silver Dollar beverage director Susie Hoyt, says are creepy. "Antiquing was an easy tran- sition into vintage whiskeys," Rice says, "'cause it's the same thrill you get finding that good deal or finding that rare thing." About six or seven years ago, he turned what should have been a seven-hour drive into a five-day road trip to Kansas City, Missouri, avoiding highways and stop- ping in mom-and-pop liquor stores along the way. At one stop, he started talking with the owner and ended up in the back surrounded by Stitzel-Weller brands from before the Shively distillery originally closed in 1972, and Old Crow Chessmen decanters from the 1960s. Rice left with 11 cases — more than 100 bottles — for $700 or $800. "Nowadays, each of those is that much," he says. A few of Silver Dollar owner Larry Rice's antique whiskeys, some of which he estimates are worth $4,000 today. at's because the days of what's called "dusty hunting" — seeking out older and under-the-radar bourbons collecting dust on shelves — are largely over, replaced by an age of high-ticket vintage and rare whiskeys sold through auction houses and among those in the know. Collecting "in the wild," as it's referred to by enthusiasts and in chat groups, now requires incredi- ble time investment with few returns. "If people want to get into it now," Rice says, "they need to be well-funded. I couldn't afford to have the collection I have if I started today." Early last year, Kentucky passed a law allowing licensed bars and retailers to sell spirits purchased from a private citizen, meaning anything no longer in distri- bution could now make it to your glass. at's why you may have noticed — at the Silver Dollar, for instance — the list of six whiskeys that sell from about $15 a pour (Barton's Hiram Walker Ten High from 1990) on up to in the $300s (Old Crow's Old Hermitage Rye from 1941). ose come from the hundred or so vintage bot- tles in a glass case at the restaurant, which come from Rice's personal collection of several thousand bottles. He's got a bottle of Mammoth Cave, a Stitzel-Weller brand from the '40s that would go for about $4,000 today. He's got a gallon-sized bottle of Old Grand-Dad from the '60s, which sits in a wooden swing. He estimates it would sell in the $4,000 range. (He won't say how much he paid for those two.) "I The buying and selling of hot equities has nothing on the buying and selling of exclusive bourbons — made even more precious as they age in the bottle. By Mary Chellis Nelson Photos by Joon Kim

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