As the Development Director of Kansas City Community Gardens, I have seen some interesting and generous donations. One of my favorite gifts we have received was a bottle of rare-released whiskey by the Old Fashion Copper (O.F.C.) Distillery, a National Historic Landmark known today as Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace resurrected the O.F.C. line of vintage whiskeys specifically for social good. They released 200 bottles, produced from 1980 to 1983, and selected nonprofits from all over the country who would receive each of those bottles to be used as a fundraising tool. KCCG was awarded a bottle from 1982.
The 1982 vintage bourbon came in a hand-cut crystal bottle. The bottle came in a polished, wood case with a swivel door. The #35 of 50 was hand-written on the bottle’s label, which also featured historical memories from the vintage’s year. Needless to say, I was nervous to even hold this item! How do you insure a whiskey bottle?!
Each charity who received a bottle had three months to complete the fundraiser. Never having been a whiskey connoisseur, I had no idea how much KCCG could raise from the bottle’s auction. Interest at first was slim, but once Buffalo Trace decided to list recipients on their website the floodgates opened. Collectors from all over the country, including those from Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, and New Jersey bid on the whiskey. On March 1, Greg Huntington of Indianapolis, Indiana won KCCG’s 1982 Vintage O.F.C. bottle for $5,250.
I drove to Indianapolis and hand-delivered the bottle, curious to find out more about Mr. Huntington and what he planned to do with the whiskey. He graciously welcomed me into his beautiful home. The picture above features Mr. Huntington’s impressive in-home bar, designed for the whiskey lover and outfitted with a breathtaking driftwood table. Mr. Huntington, a whiskey aficionado and collector, was unsure whether he would drink the whiskey or keep it on display.
I was surprised and excited to learn that a friend of Mr. Huntington’s had also purchased a charity bottle from O.F.C. during the auction—a 1980 vintage. If they decide to open their bottles, Mr. Huntington surmised that they would do so together and compare vintages. Mr. Huntington told me that he was very interested in this particular whiskey, but it was clear that he and his family also appreciated the philanthropic aspect of the auction as Mr. Huntington’s wife serves on several local nonprofit Boards, including a children’s hospital.
It is odd to think that a bottle of whiskey could help Kansas City Community Gardens to empower over 20,000 households to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables this year. But this is what makes my work so fun and rewarding—you never know where the day will take you. You never know who will step forward and offer their support for the important work we do in this community. I will say, though, that the O.F.C. Whiskey Auction was a career highlight.
Kansas City Community Gardens is thankful for Buffalo Trace and for Mr. Huntington in their incredible show of support, and I am personally thankful for such a memorable experience!