This article first appeared in Whiskey Network’s Barrel Report Oct 30th, 2020 Edition.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve come across while renovating your home? Probably not much more than a lot of junk, dust, and spiderwebs, all while shaking your head at the shoddy DIY jobs done by the previous owner. Why would anyone do THAT? Well, if you came across a stash of whiskey from the 1920s shoved in the walls and underneath the floors, chances are your home most likely belonged to a bootlegger – and no wonder he wanted to hide it!
While it may sound preposterous, that’s exactly what happened to a couple in upstate New York. Moving in, their neighbors had told tales of the house having been built by a German Baron turned bootlegger (a fascinating story in and of itself, as the owner, Adolf Humpfner, was surrounded by wealth and mystery, including dying under suspicious circumstances), but their words were laughed off. However, when Nick Drummond and Patrick Bakker began renovating the dilapidated foursquare home in the village of Ames, rumours became fact when they found dozens of carefully wrapped bottles hidden in the walls of the house. There was also a secret crawl space that, in theory, led to the old well; but when bottles were found elsewhere, Drummond took the plunge, was able to pry open the rusted hatch, and found more bottles wedged beneath the floorboards. While that was a relatively accessible job, he believes far more bottles could be hidden throughout the house.
Most of the bottles date back to the early 1920s – Prohibition time in the US. Some of the bottles were empty, but others still have liquid inside, and the lads are going to try at least one. They’re also considering putting a glass display of the crawlspace find permanently in the floor – a cool talking point when guests are over, for sure!
You can see more pictures and their story as it continues to unfold by following @bootleggerbungalow on Instagram.