In early October, two upstate New Yorkers stumbled upon a hidden supply of whiskey in their walls. The cache included dozens of bottles labeled “Old Smuggler” Gaelic Whiskey, some still full.
The bottles were found by Patrick Bakker and Nick Drummond in Ames, a 140 person village in Montgomery County, NY, The Daily Gazette reports. When they bought their home, the previous owner told them it had once belonged to a German bootlegger. The couple shrugged that off as a “cute story” until making the unlikely discovery earlier this month.
While repairing some trim below their mudroom, Drummond peeled off a board and revealed a curious slab with a flat bottom, which seemed more like a wall than a crawl space. Intrigued, he peeled off board after board until suddenly a package fell out.
The first package was followed by six more bundles, each containing seven bottles of whiskey carefully wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. The bottles were signed with the name R.M. Clark and dated Oct. 23, 1923, Black labels on each bottle noted the spirits’ “high degree of purity” and “excellent quality and flavour [sic].”
“When we bought the house we saw a hatch in the floor but we really didn’t think much of it,” Drumond said. Exploring below the hatch, the couple found floorboards attached to joists using flathead screws, which arose their suspicions.
“For them to use flathead screws at the time for something like that is extremely unusual,” Drummond said. “It’s expensive, it’s annoying and it just wouldn’t have been done.”
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So I climbed in the hatch! There were two compartments under the floor. In the first, I discovered a rug covering an abandoned hand dug stone well filled with water about 8 ft down. That would have been such an appropriate and exciting death, falling head-first into a stone well in a whiskey smuggler’s treasure trove! Besides a few empty bottles, nothing else exciting in that section. Once inside the other compartment, you are crawling around on your back in dirt, in 12-18” of space. Lots of cobwebs. Looking up, instead of seeing floor joists, there are solid boards covering the underside of the joists, held in place with flat head screws. Bizarre. They would never have done that under an unfinished mudroom. And if for some reason they wanted to attach those boards 100 years ago, they would have used nails- not screws. Unless of course, they wanted to access it again in the future! With our curiosity piqued, we were able to pry the end off one of the joist bays by the hatch opening. Inside….more packages!!! There’s whiskey under the floors too! Ahhhhh! #bootleggerbungalow #secretdoor #secretcompartment #whatsinside #hiddentreasures #prohibition #historicpreservation #americanfoursquare #renovationdiscoveries
After pulling up the floorboards the men found several more bundles of whiskey. They believe there are at least two more locations in the house where whiskey could be stored, but are taking their time to ensure the packages are not damaged.
Many of the bottles still contain spirits, but neither Drummond nor Bakker have tasted the whiskey. Instead, the two plan to visit the Montgomery County archives to learn more about how the whiskey came to be stored there in the first place. The couple hopes to install a glass panel in the floor to protect the remaining spirits.