OUR JULY WHISKY AUCTION IS NOW LIVE
Welcome to our August Auction Highlights! We’ll get straight to it, as there are lots to talk about.
We have some charity auction bottles this month, with all proceeds going to Community Action Bradford & District. We aren’t charging buyers or sellers any commission for these bottles, so please do bid generously: Charity Auction Lots
We’ll be watching this Talisker 12-Year-Old (1980s) – an unusual and quite short-lived bottling. Talisker 12yo appeared in the 1970s after the established 8-Year-Old but before Talisker 10 Year Old was introduced as a founding member of the Classic Malts in 1988. Both the 8-year-old and the 12-year-old were then withdrawn.
Talisker 12 year old was bottled at 43% (or 43.4% in the US) rather than the 8-year-old’s 45.8% (80 proof). It seems to have been mostly for export markets – it is frequently found in litre bottles – but this particular bottling is 75cl.
Another interesting aspect that helps us date this bottle is the famous Johnnie Walker Striding Man on the label. Distillers Company Limited switched the marketing for Talisker to John Walker & Sons from their other subsidiary The Distillers Agency in the early 1980s. We can say, therefore, that this bottle is from around 1983-88, meaning the whisky inside would have been distilled in the early to mid-1970s.
Dewar’s White Label 1929
Blend fans, meanwhile, will be keeping tabs on this absolutely glorious bottle of Dewar’s White Label bottled in 1929 during the reign of King George V. Its skewed but wonderful label somehow manages to be simultaneously elegant and ornate. We can date this bottle so precisely thanks to Dewar’s practice of putting the month and year of bottling in the bottom corner of each label. This bottle is also important as a very early example of Dewar’s using a spring-cap closure, which has preserved the whisky with remarkably little evaporation over the ninety years of its existence. Dewar’s was bottled with a driven cork until 1928, before making the switch to spring-caps.
Knockando is one of Speyside’s less celebrated names, but the distillery – most of whose output goes into the J&B blend – has produced some fine old whiskies in its time. Knockando was owned by the Grand Metropolitan conglomerate in the 1980s and early 1990s, before the 1997 merger that created Diageo. During this period, Knockando – who printed distillation and bottling dates on their labels long before this was common practice – released a string of long-aged vintage single malts. We have several in our auction this month: Knockando 1962-1984, Knockando 1964-1989, and two bottles of Knockando 1968-1992.
Most, if not all of these whiskies were distilled before the distillery’s original floor maltings were removed in 1968. They are fine examples of the lighter style of Speyside from that era: an elegant spirit enhanced only by long ageing in traditional bourbon and sherry casks. Best of all, these whiskies go for respectable, but affordable prices nowadays, offering exceptional value compared to their more vaunted Speyside rivals.
Glenmorangie is another distillery whose best releases are arguably undervalued. The period in the mid-1990s to the very early 2000s when Glenmorangie 1975-1994 Port Wood, Glenmorangie Claret Wood, Glenmorangie 1975 Cote De Nuits and the first Tain L’Hermitage bottling appeared was the golden age of finished whiskies. Back then, the idea of putting a whisky in a wine cask was considered strikingly novel and innovative.
These first-wave bottlings were aged between 19-25 years and sold for justifiably high prices. The second wave of Glenmorangie’s wood experiments appeared in the mid-Noughties and included some younger whiskies that had been finished or even fully matured in virgin casks. Glenmorangie 1993-2005 Truffle Oak was finished in virgin European Oak (Quercus robur), while Glenmorangie 1993-2004 Burr Oak was fully matured in virgin casks made from a tight-grained American white oak, Quercus macrocarpa.
These bottlings, along with second editions of the older, wine-finished malts (such as Glenmorangie 1975-2003 Tain L’Hermitage) were arguably over-priced on release, putting off many collectors at the time. Glenmorangie’s prices then jumped the shark with the release of Glenmorangie Pride in 2011, which precipitated a heavy price collapse for Glenmorangie in the (then very young) whisky auction scene… For Glenmorangie, Pride really did come before a nasty fall.
However, the quality of the early experimental whiskies from Glenmorangie has shone through over time. They are becoming more sought-after nowadays, but prices have remained reasonable – someone could get a real bargain here.
Finally, newer whisky fans wondering how Glenmorangie attained such a lofty reputation in the first place – or those who don’t like wine finishes – should check out two of the distillery’s greatest 1990s bottlings of traditionally-matured whisky: Glenmorangie 1971 150th Anniversary and Glenmorangie Elegance 21-Year-Old.