Liquor snobs can buy a late Denver businessman’s private whisky collection — the ‘world’s largest’ — for $10 million or so

It includes a bottle similar to one that recently sold for $1.9 million.

Some of the scotch whisky from Richard Gooding's private collection, set to be auctioned off next year. (Courtesy of Whisky Auctioneer)

Some of the scotch whisky from Richard Gooding's private collection, set to be auctioned off next year. (Courtesy of Whisky Auctioneer)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Richard Gooding and his family made a considerable fortune selling soda. They’re about to make a small fortune with something a bit stronger.

The late Denver businessman’s massive personal bottle reserve is headed to auction next year as part of a set simply called The Perfect Collection. It will be auctioned by an online whisky auctioneer simply called Whisky Auctioneer, which is based in Perth, Scotland.

A few of the bottles are expected to fetch prices more fit for a new car — or a new house.

Gooding, who died in 2014, grew up in the Belcaro neighborhood and went to South High School before graduating from the University of Denver, according to his obituary. His grandfather founded the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Denver in 1936.

Whisky Auctioneer bills Gooding’s collection as the largest private whisky collection to be auctioned in the world, both in volume and value. Looking down the list, it’s hard to argue against the claim: More than 3,900 bottles, primarily of single malt Scotch whisky, with an estimated combined value of roughly $10.5 million.

It includes spirits from distilleries like The Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank, as well as from “lost” distilleries that no longer exist, like Old Orkney from Stromness Distillery and Dallas Dhu. A release announcing the event said some of these bottles have never been seen at auction by experts or connoisseurs.

Some of the scotch whisky from Richard Gooding's private collection, set to be auctioned off next year. (Courtesy of Whisky Auctioneer)

Some of the scotch whisky from Richard Gooding's private collection, set to be auctioned off next year. (Courtesy of Whisky Auctioneer)

Included in the collection are 11 bottles comprising of Gooding’s “marquee collection.” They’re valued at £3,000 (nearly $4,000) or more. One bottle, The Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60 Year Old bottle, is extremely coveted; a similar bottle sold in October for nearly $1.9 million.

Scott Diamond, the owner of Pints Pub in Denver, said it’s unlikely that whisky will ever be enjoyed by its new owner. It doesn’t bother him that the spirit may never be enjoyed by anyone.

“The best way to experience it is to keep your collection and let it gain in value and then go out and buy a good bottle of whisky that’s 10 years old or 20 years old or whatever and enjoy that whisky,” Diamond said.

Diamond’s watering hole in Golden Triangle boasts its own large and rare single malt whisky collection, including rare bottles from “lost” distilleries like Dallas Dhu. Those are kept behind a case and are only shared with people who not only have the money for it (up to a $1,000 for a dram) but who are deemed worthy by Diamond.

Pints Pub on 13th Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Pints Pub on 13th Avenue. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“The key to all this is lost stills and silent stills,” Diamond said about the auction. “It means there will never be any more. It means that every time someone drinks a dram, there is one less more of those in the world.”

A dram refers to a serving of whisky. Diamond said a Scotsman once told him a dram is, “a measure that is pleasing to both the guest and the host.” He said most good whisky benefits from a drop or two of spring water (don’t ask for ice with your single malt whisky if you visit Pints Pubs).

Gooding’s collection had been housed in his own “pub,” which is a room inside his Colorado home designed to show the pricey bottles.

Picture a library, but instead of wooden shelves stocked with books, it’s rows and rows of whisky bottles.

Gooding served as owner and CEO of Pepsi from 1979 to 1988. In addition to whisky, his obit said he was a fan of custom suits and Leonard neckties (it also notes he didn’t really participate in casual Friday).

Gooding’s wife, Nancy, said in a statement that collecting scotch was one of her late husband’s greatest passions. He would regularly travel to Scotland and Ireland with his pilot looking for special bottles at auctions and distilleries. It’s a hobby Nancy said spanned two decades.

“He loved every aspect of it; from researching the many single malt distilleries to visiting them and tasting their whiskies,” Nancy said in the release. “He was always so pleased to acquire the bottles that he was searching for over the years – his mission was to collect a bottle that represented every single distillery, but his favourite was always Bowmore with his preferred whisky being Black Bowmore.”

The Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60 Year Old  bottle, the most valuable whisky from Richard Gooding's collection. (Courtesy of Whisky Auctioneer)

The Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60 Year Old bottle, the most valuable whisky from Richard Gooding's collection. (Courtesy of Whisky Auctioneer)

PETER DIBDIN PHOTOGRAPHER

Whisky Auctioneer called the sale “a major coup.” The collection will be broken into two events, the first from February 7 to 17 and the second from April 10 to 20.

Diamonds said this event is good for whisky in general since it can encourage more interest among people who may not be familiar with it. He didn’t know Gooding, but he thinks it’s possible he may have ended up at his pub at some point. It’s possible; it’s been open since 1993.

“It’s an art form, in many ways,” Diamonds said. “This guy had this great collection of art and he’s selling it. I get it.”

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