A Pennsylvania man will soon stand trial for raiding a secret stash of historic hooch, a100-proof-plus cache of pre-Prohibition whiskey valued by one expert at more than $100,000.
John Saunders allegedly belted back 50-or-so of the 104 total bottles Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey that were, until recently, surreptitiously stowed behind a stairwell leading to his Scottdale, Pa., basement apartment.
Saunders, who, according to his former landlord, was supposed to safeguard the whiskey, denies having touched the spirits.
However, court-ordered genetic samples furnished by Saunders matched the whiskey’s unique profile, according to WTAE 4, which first reported the story. The 62-year-old was subsequently charged by authorities with felony theft, as well as receiving stolen property.
"The DNA doesn't lie."
- Patricia Hill
"The DNA doesn't lie,” Patricia Hill, Saunders’ ex-landlord, told the station while hinting that her one-time tenant may have a problem with alcohol. “I'm just disappointed a family friend of over 40 years has lied.
“It's a shame it took historic whiskey to realize and come to this point, but if it saved his life, maybe that's the best of it all."
WTAE 4 reports the whiskey had likely languished in the covert, closet-like chamber in Saunders’ rental unit since before Prohibition, or when it was initially delivered to local, Pittsburgh industrialist J.P. Brennan in 1917.
Brennan, who once cavorted with Andrew Carnegie, long ago resided in the mansion that came to house Saunders’ basement abode. Hill reportedly purchased the home at auction in 1986, and at the time Saunders rented the unit, Hill was amidst a plan to transform the mansion into a bed-and-breakfast, WTAE 4 reports.
"The whiskey was buried right back here under these stairs,” South Broadway Manor's chef and innkeeper, Rick Bruckner, reportedly said. "They were doing renovations down here for the plumbing and electrical and they had to rip out underneath the stairs. Whenever they did, they discovered nine cases of the Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey. The story with this isn't just, 'Hey, we have some really old whiskey.' It's, 'Hey, we have some really old, historical whiskey.'"