Rare wine collection found hidden in N.J. cellar

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UNION, N.J. — A one-of-a-kind wine collection has been uncovered in a New Jersey cellar.

It was found behind a boarded-up wall and some of the bottles are more than 200 years old.

A bottle of Madeira wine from 1796 was found among the incredible stash, hidden in unmarked crates deep in the cellar underneath the former home of New Jersey's first governor, William Livingston.

He built the estate as a country home before the Revolutionary War. Today, it's a museum.

Madeira was a type of wine popular in the 18th century because it was easy to ship, experts said. And it was a favorite of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

All the wine was hidden inside a cage, probably boarded up during the Prohibition era. It was only when museum staff ripped off wood boards that they made the discovery.

Along with the rare Madeira wines, staff also found bourbon bottled in the spring of 1884, American whiskey made in 1871 and cases of Cuban cigars safely preserved inside a humidor.

There are no plans to taste the long-aged wines, but the cellar and home above it is now open to the public for tours.

Descendants of the estate's original owner, the Kean family, turned over the keys in 1995.

The Liberty House Museum at Kean University plans to explore Alexander Hamilton's room next. He stayed in the 50-room house for six months when he first came to America.

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