It’s a bumper month for our whisky auction, with some of the most exciting bottles we’ve had all year!
The boys were over on Islay recently for a spot of fishing and picked up a lot of fabulous bottles from local collectors for this auction. There are tons of great distillery-only and Feis Ile bottles from years gone by and lots of old favourites and rarely-seen bottlings as well, so the following is just a taster…
From Ardbeg there’s the original Ardbeg Kildalton 1980-2004 and the modern Ardbeg Kildalton from a few years ago, the classic Ardbeg Lord of the Isles and, best of all, the Ardbeg 1973-2004 Cask 1143, a beautiful bourbon hogshead selected by Stuart Thomson in the early days of the Ardbeg renaissance.
Other highlights from the golden era include the magnificent Caol Ila 15 Year Old Managers Dram from 1990, the hard to find Caol Ila 20 Year Old 150th Anniversary bottled in 1996 and one of the best ever Bunna’s: Bunnahabhain 1968 Family Silver – a mystifyingly underrated dram. There’s also the small matters of the vintage label Bowmore 1956 Sherry Cask, Bowmore 1957 38 Year Old, Bowmore Bicentenary and the historic Bruichladdich 1970-2001 ‘I Was There’ single cask from the distillery’s reopening.
More recent bottlings that will turn a few heads include the Lagavulin 11 Year Old Managers Dram 2013 and several excellent curious including a Bruichladdich 2002-20009 Blood Tub – a tiny cask that yielded only 41 bottles. Most unusual of all, perhaps, is this Liquid Gold 1971-2010 39 Year Old – a private bottling of an unnamed Islay malt from a cask that had gone under 40% and was therefore no longer allowed to be called whisky.
Treasures From Gordon & MacPhail
There’s plenty of old friends from Gordon & MacPhail this month, including early 1970s Strathisla 1937 and Macallan-Glenlivet 1937 in the desirable thistle-print bottles, a 1980s edition Pride of Strathspey 1938 mystery malt (widely believed to be from Macallan as well) and a lovely dark gold Glenlivet 1949.
Finally, the undoubted G&M highlights of this auction are a pair of Glenlivets bottled in the early 1960s: a splendid Glenlivet 1937 and this stunning 100-proof Glenlivet 1945. There’s so much to love about these, and they’re in almost pristine condition. We expect fierce bidding on these treasures.
A Taste of Yesteryear
Another wonderful old bottling is the OB Milton-Duff 13-Year-Old bottled in the 1960s at 85-proof (around 48.5%). This is a really great whisky with a growing reputation, a perfect example of that 1950s lighter style of Speyside, all tweed, light floral and fruit notes and minerality.
Now for another truly outstanding highlight from this month’s auction… back in July, we had an amazing bottle of Highland Park bottled by ‘W. Cadenhead’ in the 1960s. This very rare HP caused a sensation – and now we’ve uncovered another bottle! Cadenhead’s Highland Park Pure Malt was bottled at 80 proof (46%) in an unusual (for Cadenhead’s) tall clear glass bottle with a beautifully minimalist cream label. We’re thrilled to have another bottle of this unicorn malt in even better condition than the previous one, which had a split in the capsule seal. HP fanciers will also be keeping a close eye on the classic Highland Park 1967-1991 and Highland Park 1977-1998 Bicentenary. Not to mention the first edition of the Highland Park 50-Year-Old!
Elsewhere, we’re delighted to have the Talisker 1978 40-Year-Old Bodega Series, Balvenie 1968-2000 Cask 7296 and a host of great Glenfarclas Family Casks, including the almost sixty-year-old Glenfarclas 1956-2015, Glenfarclas 1961-2014 and Glenfarclas 1967-2016.
Older bottlings include another rare highlight: this fantastic semi-official 1950s Campbell, Hope & King bottling of Glen Grant 5 Year Old 104 proof. Thankfully, the high strength (over 59%) should ensure plenty of life in the whisky despite the slightly low level, and the bottle is in otherwise superb condition.
We’re also really spoiled for blends this month, with some absolutely beautiful bottles in fantastic condition. Check out this fabulous 1949 bottling of Black & White, with the brilliant ‘chemical analysis’ back label, or this wonderful spring-capped 1952 rotation Dewar’s White Label.
For the Macallan-fanciers there’s an embarrassment of riches: there are several 25 Year-Old Anniversary bottlings including Macallan 1962-1988 and Macallan 1968-1994, plus newer bottles including the Macallan Oscuro 1824 Collection and Macallan Folio Archival Series 4.
However, the stars of the show are a pair many collectors would rate as the best Macallans ever bottled: the gorgeous symphony of sherry that is Macallan Millennium 1949 50-Year-Old and the truly otherworldly Macallan 1946 52-Year-Old with its scintillating phenols and extraordinary balance. There will be an almighty scrap for these bottles.
Favourites and Curios
There are so many classic bottlings this month, with Longrow 1974-1992 18 Year Old, the cask strength Clynelish 1982-1997 Flora & Fauna, Rare Malts Clynelish 1972-1997 (61.3%) and Port Ellen 1978-1998 (60.9%) just a few top drawer examples.
We can’t finish without highlighting this remarkable bottle of Old Ship Jamaica Rum – this is a shippers rum, bottled in the UK by Joseph Travers & Sons – a historic, influential merchant trader with a traceable lineage going back to around the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The company’s London offices were in St. Swithin’s Lane and Cannon Street, but the firm soon had branches around the world. By 1899, Travers & Sons’ influence in tea, spices and exotic fruit was such that an office in Singapore was opened, but the firm foundered during WWII after their warehouse in St Katherine’s Docks and a spice mill in Wapping were destroyed during the Blitz, and the company seems to have ceased trading in the early 1970s.
We believe that this bottle of Jamaica Rum dates from around the early 1950s/1960s. Back then, as with whisky, the word Liqueur on the label only signified that the spirit had been long-aged, rather than today’s more codified definition of the word. This important historical artefact will have lots of admirers.
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