Kean University exhibit to feature wine, whiskey from 1700s

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New Jersey residents will soon get to see what type of alcohol the country’s forefathers likely drank when a new exhibit opens at Kean University.

Workers at the school’s historic Liberty Hall stumbled upon a wine cellar in 2015 full of boxes of wine and whiskey dating back to the 1700s.

Liberty Hall was built 259 years ago by New Jersey’s first elected Gov. William Livingston.

“The wine cellar has always been the wine cellar. And you would know things are in boxes and you don't touch them. We decided it was time to open some boxes. And that's when we realized we had Lennox Madeira that dated to 1798,” says Rachel Goldberg with the Liberty Hall Museum.

The discovery gave rise to what has become a new exhibit, "History of the Bottle" which uses the collection wine and spirits collected by the Livingston and Kean families over the course of two centuries to tell a broader history of commerce and culture and America itself.

The curators say that Madeira was the most popular wine of colonial America. George Washington is said to have bought it by the gallon.

“It's unique, it goes back hundreds of years and it evidently played an important role in the beginning of our country,” says John Kean Sr.

It is widely believed the signers of the Declaration of Independence likely celebrated with a toast of Madeira in 1776.

That exhibit opens at Kean University's Liberty Hall Museum on July 4.

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