Welcome to our February Whisky Auction highlights! It’s a bumper sale this month with some outrageous bottles from the likes of Laphroaig, Ben Nevis, Cragganmore and many more, so we’d better crack on!

The Oxford Collection: Laphroaig And Much More

The headline for this auction is the amazing collection of bottles we collected from an estate in Oxfordshire the week before the sale. We went down to collect several hundred unlabelled bottles of Ben Nevis and Cragganmore single malts, along with a couple of hundred unlabelled blended Scotch whiskies but, as we reported in our last blog, when we arrived we found some incredible old bottles of Laphroaig as well!

Further research seems to indicate that the Laphroaig bottles are from both the late 1940s and the early 1950s. This narrowing of dates was possible because in late December 1950 Laphroaig’s owner Ian Hunter, who had previously been the sole partner in D Johnston & Co., registered the distillery business as a limited company: D Johnston & Co. (Laphroaig) Ltd.

Of the various beautiful Laphroaig bottles in the sale, the standout Laphroaig 12-year-old was bottled by ‘D Johnston & Co. (Laphroaig) Ltd’, and can be assumed to be from the early 1950s, while most of the other bottles just have ‘D Johnston & Co.’ on the label, and are therefore believed to have been bottled prior to December 1950. 

We have listed the nine Laphroaig bottles under three different types: there are 6 lots of the 1940s Laphroaig Old Liqueur Scotch (no neck label, D Johnston & Co), one bottle of 1950s Laphroaig Old Liqueur Scotch 20 Under Proof D Johnston & Co (Laphroaig) Ltd. and two of the historic 1950s Laphroaig 12-Year-Old Old Liqueur Scotch (D Johnston & Co (Laphroaig) Ltd.). We’re already very jealous of the future winners of these magnificent bottles.

Elsewhere in this huge treasure trove, the rotation numbers on the outer cases for both the Ben Nevis 15-Year-Old and ‘Cragamore’ 15-Year-Old were from 1981, meaning that the whiskies themselves must have been distilled no later than 1966. Rather than sell these malts by the case, we’ve decided to split them into lots of two bottles each so that everyone has a good chance to get hold of what will certainly be a fantastic pair of sipping whiskies. 

The blends we picked up as part of this extraordinary collection fall into two camps and are very interesting as well. Some of the bottles are embossed with ‘Federal Law Prohibits Reuse Of This Bottle’, a legal requirement on spirits bottles sold in the USA until 1964, which is the year of the rotation number for their cases. These bottles are listed as Unknown Blended Scotch Whisky Rotation 1964 Colin Forbes Ross & Co, while the remaining bottles are outwardly similar but have a rotation number for 1965 and do not have the Federal Law message. These bottles have been listed as Unknown Blended Scotch Whisky Rotation 1965.

Just to reiterate once again, all of the bottles we picked up from this collection are for sale in this auction and we haven’t held anything back for future sales – so if you want any of these bottles, fair warning: this will be your only chance!

Superb Old Macallan

As breathtaking as it is, there’s more to this sale than just the Oxford collection – as ever, we’ve got some brilliant Macallan as well!

Recent-ish Macallans in this month’s auction include last year’s Macallan A Night On Earth, 2020’s Macallan 40-Year-Old Red Collection, then Macallan Genesis and Macallan Concept No.1 from 2018, and 2019’s Concept No. 2 and Easter Elchies Black.

Going back a bit there’s also the 1841 and 1861 Replica bottles, a wooden-boxed Macallan 25-Year-Old Sherry Oak, 30-Year-Old Fine Oak, 1995 and 1996 vintage 18-Year-Olds and a full set of Macallan Editions Nos.1-6.

Hardcore Macallan purists need not despair, of course – earlier Macallan bottlings in this month’s sale include the magnificent Macallan 1972 25-Year-Old, 1978 and 1979 vintage 18-Year-Olds, plus the 1990s 10-Year-Old 100 Proof and 12-Year-Old, the famous Macallan 1981-1999 Exceptional Cask 9780 and a couple of all-time classics from around the turn of the millennium: the blue label wooden-boxed Macallan 30-Year-Old Sherry Oak and Macallan 1979 18-Year-Old Gran Reserva.

But that’s not all – we’ve also got some great indie bottlings of Macallan this month, including Murray McDavid’s Mission series Macallan 1986 18-Year-Old, Douglas Laing’s Macallan 1977 26-Year-Old, Signatory’s sensational Macallan 1966 34-Year-Old Single Cask 4182, and Gordon & MacPhail’s Speymalt 1950 55-Year-Old Single Cask 1681. Sensible Macallan fans keen on a bargain, meanwhile, will be eyeing up the Crabbie 25-Year-Old, Crabbie 1988 30-Year-Old and Prometheus 1988 28-Year-Old, for some reason.

You can check out all the Macallans in this month’s auction here.

Islay Magic

Yes, of course the old Laphroaigs are stealing the show – but there’s still plenty of other beautiful Islay goodies in this month’s sale! More recent Laphroaigs include the 2019 edition of Laphroaig 25-Year-Old Cask Strength and the SMWS’s 2019 Feis Ile bottling of Laphroaig 19-Year-Old SMWS 29.260, and staying on the south coast there’s the very rare early cask strength Lagavulin 15-Year-Old by The Syndicate, and a couple of gems from Port Ellen: Signatory’s Port Ellen 1975 23-Year-Old and Port Ellen 1979 24-Year-Old Straight From The Cask at a mighty 58.8%.

Ardbeg fans, meanwhile, will be making a beeline for the Ardbeg Lord of the Isles 25-Year-Old, the recent OB highlight Ardbeg 1996 22-Year-Old, Chieftain’s Ardbeg 1998 20-Year-Old, the rare private cask bottling Ardbeg 1994 23-Year-Old and 2020’s Ardbeg Blaaack bottled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ardbeg Committee.

Not to be outdone, there’s another of our favourite ever Islay classics, the Sea Dragon Bowmore 30-Year-Old, and the rare ceramic jug Bowmore 10-Year-Old released in 1990 for Provident Mutual. Up by Port Askaig, meanwhile, there’s the promisingly dark-looking Bunnahabhain 1987 14-Year-Old SMWS 10.53 and the OB cask strength Caol Ila 1978 25-Year-Old, a forgotten classic if ever there was one.

Sherried Treasure

There’s a veritable shedload of gorgeous sherried drams in the sale this month. Recent sherry cask bottlings in this month’s sale include several outstanding Glendronachs such as the Glendronach 1991 25-Year-Old Kingsman Edition, Glendronach 20-Year-Old Octaves and the epic Glendronach 1971 40-Year-Old Cask 1436. Other relatively recent sherried drams include Longrow 2003 14-Year-Old Sherry Cask, Benromach’s celebratory Benromach 1998-2018 Cask 1 and Signatory’s outrageously dark cask strength Allt-A-Bhainne 2000 20-Year-Old and Benriach 2000 20-Year-Old.

Older vintage sherried whiskies in this month’s auction include Douglas Laing’s Glen Grant 1978 30-Year-Old and Gordon & MacPhail’s Strathisla 1965-2014, Glen Grant 1950-2007 and Glen Grant 1948 58-Year-Old, plus the cask strength classic Longmorn 1973-2005.

Finally, a mouth-watering trio of sherried Springbanks: Signatory’s Springbank 1967 21-Year-Old and Murray McDavid’s Springbank 1965 34-Year-Old, both of which were bottled at 46%, and a very rare cask strength Springbank 12-Year-Old bottled at some point in the 1980s by the little-seen but much-loved James MacArthur.

Non-Scotch, Favourites and Curios

There’s some very interesting unusual bottles this month, such as this almost unknown bottling of Imperial 1982-1999 bottled for a Glasgow trade association for the millennium, and this Glenfarclas 15-Year-Old bottled for a multinational agriculture firm in the mid-1980s.

Away from Scotland there are some excellent bottles as well, including this very unusual Jim Beam Bicentennial 1976, a collaboration with the Saturday Evening Post featuring one of star illustrator Norman Rockwell’s famous covers on the label. 

There’s some superb Japanese whiskies under the hammer this month too, with the standout being the returning favourite Hakushu 18-Year-Old, a truly outstanding dram and sadly scarce these days. Other interesting Japanese whiskies this month include Chichibu On The Way and three limited edition Hibikis: Hibiki Master’s Select, Hibiki Japanese Harmony and Hibiki Blossom Harmony.

Finally for this month, we wanted to highlight a trio of Charity Auction bottles being sold for a good cause. The parish of St. Mary’s, Brownedge are raising funds to help bring a Syrian family to refuge in the UK and have got a Balvenie 10-Year-Old Founder’s Reserve, a 1970s Glenfiddich 8-Year-Old and a 1970s Glenmorangie 10-Year-Old up for grabs. We’ve waived our fees for these lots and all the proceeds will go straight to St. Mary’s, so please bid generously!

That’s it for this month – Good Luck and Happy Bidding!

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