Welcome to our April Auction Highlights! As ever, there’s plenty to get through, with top class drams from Macallan, Brora, Talisker and many more, so we’d best crack on.
Bruichladdich 2005 Cask 345 – Held In Bond
The headliner this month is something a little different: a cask of Bruichladdich 2005, still held in bond at the distillery on Islay! Bruichladdich 2005 Cask 345 is a bourbon barrel and was regauged in February this year, when it held approximately 135 bulk litres at 60.4% – enough for around 192 x 70cl bottles at cask strength.
We’ve tasted a sample from this cask, and it’s terrific stuff – deliciously old school, and mature enough to bottle now but with plenty in the tank if you wanted to age it further, especially given the high strength. Here’s our tasting notes from Tim F:
Nose: Very appealing opening notes of honey and lemon curd, with golden syrup and fresh laundry behind. Develops on grassy aromas of hay and honeysuckle, then overripe apple peel and high quality milk chocolate. The oak appears late: hardwoods and furniture polish, a hint of cinnamon. Further time in the glass reveals custard, porridge, clove and orange peel. Water lifts nougat and Playdoh aromas.
Palate: Medium-full on the palate. Peppery at first, with the oak and nice touches of sugared almonds and apricot jelly, then zesty orange peel, strawberry liquorice, Playdoh, cloves, sponge cake with damson jam, cranachan, marmalade and a pleasing leafy herbaceousness towards the end. Gets fruitier with water, which also lifts wool and nougat flavours.
Finish: Very good length, warm and drying. The herby notes linger with the pepper, syrup, Playdoh, a menthol note and a touch of hot spices.
Comment: A very sippable dram in the old school style, with a lot of different layers of flavour held together by strong but not overbearing oak. The balance is improved further with a few drops of water.
This marvellous old cask of Bruichladdich 2005 is currently 16 years old and while it’s an excellent whisky already it really has the potential to become a truly magnificent dram in a few years time. Bidding will be fierce.
Macallans Old & New
Let’s move on with a roundup of the Macallans in this month’s auction. Recent bottlings from the Speyside behemoth include the likes of Macallan Easter Elchies Black 2020 and 2019, Macallan Concept No.3 David Carson, 2018’s sherry butt Macallan 1988 Exceptional Cask 08, Macallan Edition No.5, an old edition of Macallan 30-Year-Old Fine Oak, Macallan Folio Archival Series 1 and lesser-spotted drams including Macallan Ghillie’s Dram (complete with the leather fly pouch), 2009’s Macallan 12-Year-Old Re-Awakening, the extremely rare Macallan 8-Year-Old Easter Elchies Summer bottled in 2006 and the original 2010 first bottling of Macallan Oscuro.
Classic old bottlings of Macallan in this month’s auction, meanwhile, include Macallan 1976 29-Year-Old Fine & Rare, the Charles & Di Macallan 1948/61 Royal Marriage bottled in 1981, plus the 1964 and 1965 vintages of Macallan 25-Year-Old Anniversary Malt, the legendary Macallan 1950 Handwritten Label bottled around 1980 for Gordon & MacPhail, Macallan Elegancias from 1990 and 1991, Macallan 30-Year-Old Sherry Blue Label and several sherried Macallan 18-Year-Olds from vintages including 1971, 1979, 1980 and 1983.
Finally, there’s some excellent indie Macallans this month, with highlights including Douglas Laing’s superb Old & Rare Platinum Selection Macallan 1977 30-Year-Old, a handsome decanter by The Scottish Gantry filled with refill bourbon cask matured, virgin oak finished Macallan 1990 30-Year-Old and, for the canny Macallan fans, Crabbie 1988 30-Year-Old and Prometheus 1988 28-Year-Old
As ever, this is just a summary – there’s much more than we can list here, so check out all the Macallan in this month’s auction here.
We’ve got some really superb Islay drams this month. Classic Ardbegs include the Ardbeg 25-Year-Old Lord Of The Isles, Signatory Vintage’s Ardbeg 1967 30-Year-Old from a single dark Oloroso sherry cask and more recent editions such as the Committee Release of Ardbeg Blaaack, 2016’s Ardbeg 21-Year-Old and 2017’s Ardbeg 23-Year-Old.
Bowmore, meanwhile, are represented by the rare vintage OB Bowmore 1984 which appeared around the turn of the millennium, the recent distillery exclusive Bowmore 20-Year-Old David Simson, the 2020 annual release Bowmore 1989 30-Year-Old and the return of the legendary undisclosed Bowmore Berry Bros Pure Single Malt 1961 bottled in 1973.
We’ve also got an absolute treasure trove of Lagavulin, featuring another of The Syndicate’s rare cask strength Lagavulin 15-Year-Old and Lagavulin 1979 38-Year-Old, plus various hard to find Feis Ile and Jazz Festival bottlings from years gone by. There’s too many to list here, so check out all this month’s Lagavulin here.
Miscellaneous Islay gems this month include a welcome return for Bunnahabhain 1968 Auld Acquaintance, bottled in 2002 and still one of the best ever Bunna OBs, the famous Bruichladdich 1991 Yellow Submarine, the extremely rare Laphroaig 1968 26-Year-Old by Hart Brothers, the short-lived wooden boxed Flora & Fauna Caol Ila 15-Year-Old and several early Port Ellen Special Releases.
Last month’s auction saw some terrific prices for the big collection of Managers Drams 1988-2007, and lo and behold there’s another huge set of Manager’s Drams in this month’s auction! This month we’ve got an almost complete collection of Manager’s Drams from 1988-2014 with only three bottles missing (1999’s Linkwood, the Benrinnes from 1988 and the Oban from 1990), so if you missed out last month here’s another chance to grab these elusive classics. You can check out all this month’s Manager’s Drams here.
There’s some choice Rare Malts Editions this month too, with notable drams from Glen Mhor, Royal Brackla and North Port rubbing shoulders with legends such as Clynelish 1972 24-Year-Old and Brora 1972 22-Year-Old. You can check out all this month’s Rare Malts here.
That’s not all for Brora/Clynelish fans, however – we’re also delighted to see the return of the stunning Clynelish 12-Year-Old, distilled at some point in the mid-1960s at the original Clynelish distillery aka Brora. These white label Ainslie & Heilbron Brora whiskies bottled in the 1970s are nothing short of spectacular, with an intensity of character and complexity you wouldn’t believe was possible in a 40% whisky until you’ve tried them.
There’s some fantastic old and new sherried drams this month. Lesser-known treasures for the Jerez-fanciers include the splendid Glenrothes 1972 Restricted Release bottled in 1996, the deep, dark Glenglassaugh 1968 45-Year-Old Rare Cask Release, Signatory’s chestnut brown Braes of Glenlivet 1979 16-Year-Old, Murray McDavid’s beautiful Dallas Dhu 1974 29-Year-Old Mission Selection and Gordon & MacPhail’s Cask Strength Strathisla 1974-1992.
For the purists, meanwhile, this month’s all-time classic sherried malts include Glendronach 1971 42-Year-Old bottled in 2013 from an epic Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon, legendary Managers Dram editions including Caol Ila 15-Year-Old, Clynelish 17-year-old and Oban Bicentenary and some very special whiskies from Gordon & MacPhail including the outrageously dark Highland Park 1997-2009, Glenlivet 1954-2010 Private Collection and some fabulous super-aged Glen Grants: the sherried highlights include Glen Grant 50-Year-Old, Glen Grant 1952-2012 and Glen Grant 1963-2014, but it’s definitely worth checking out all the ancient G&M Glen Grants in this month’s sale here.
Favourites & Curios
This month’s whisky auction has some tremendous recent bottlings from one of our very favourite distilleries, Springbank. Lots coming under the hammer include 2009’s Springbank 18-Year-Old, plus the 2021 editions of Springbank 21-Year-Old and Springbank 15-Year-Old, and over half a dozen recent Springbank Local Barleys. There’s also several excellent Longrow & Kilkerran bottlings this month too, and Campbeltown fans will be keeping tabs on the lovely recent Glen Scotia 30-Year-Old as well.
Returning favourite bottles from yesteryear include this beautiful 1960s Glenfiddich 8-Year-Old Straight Malt, Glenlivet 1967-2000 Cellar Collection, Strathisla 35-Year-Old Bicentenary, the groundbreaking Glenmorangie Claret Wood Finish – one of the original whiskies that spawned today’s finishing craze – and the magnificent Talisker 25-Year-Old bottled in 2005.
Lost distilleries are well represented in the sale, with Killyloch 1967-2003, Gordon & MacPhail’s Rare Old Convalmore 1975-2015, Duncan Taylor’s unicorn Kinclaith 1969 35-Year-Old, and Silver Seal bottlings of North Port 1976, Lochside 1979 and Linlithgow 1982, the latter of course an alternate name for St. Magdalene distillery, which also has the marvellous G&M St. Magdalene 1965-1991 Connoisseurs Choice edition and the ultra-rare St. Magdalene 1978 20-Year-Old Waterloo St, a Diageo staff-only bottling of an outstanding single refill sherry cask given to VIPs and members of the company’s Engineering Dept in 1998 for the 100th anniversary of their premises in Glasgow’s Waterloo St.
Away from Scotland there’s some great curios and favourites, with the rarest curio being this very interesting 1970s Jack Daniel’s Imperial Quart, a very unusual bottle size for the company. The Imperial Quart, as the name suggests, was based on UK gallons, which are larger, so an Imperial quart is 1.136 litres (two UK pints) rather than a US quart which is 946ml. Staying in the USA, we’ve also got old favourites Elijah Craig 23-Year-old Single Barrel, Pappy Van Winkle 20-Year-Old and Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-Old, and for the serious Stitzel-Weller connoisseurs there’s an old gold-threaded bottle of the sumptuous Old Weller 7-Year-Old 107 Proof.
That’s it for this month – Good Luck and Happy Bidding!
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