Welcome to our October 2021 Auction Highlights! There’s a load of very special stuff this month from Macallan, Talisker, Highland Park and more, so let’s crack on.
Beautiful 1920s Banff
We’ll start with the absolute star of this month’s show – an extraordinary 1920s official bottling of Banff. This amazing bottle was given to the seller by a family member in 1973 on his 18th birthday, and has been kept safely in his possession ever since.
This ancient bottle of Pure Old Banff Malt Whisky 15-year-old was bottled by the Mile End Distillery Company Ltd, who had owned a share of the distillery since 1921. Banff distillery was sold to Distillers Company Limited in 1932, so it is certain that this whisky was bottled between 1921-1932. As this Banff is Guaranteed Over 15 Years Old, we can say that the youngest liquid in this bottle was distilled no later than 1917 and perhaps as early as 1906!
Banff practised triple-distillation until 1924, so what we have here is a completely unique official bottling of the lost Northern Highland triple-distillation style of whisky, distilled over a century ago – from a distillery that closed its doors for good in 1983.
It goes without saying that this 15-year-old Banff is extremely significant, particularly as it’s an official bottling – after WWII under DCL’s stewardship almost the entirety of Banff’s whisky was used exclusively in blends, and the first official bottling in living memory was the Rare Malts Edition released in 2004, over two decades after the distillery had been closed.
Any official Banff is therefore of genuine historical importance, and the cherry on top is that this bottling was released at 21 under-proof (45%), which hopefully should have preserved many of the flavours and character of this time capsule single malt whisky. It’s an honour for us to bring this beautiful bottle to auction and we’re sure it will go to a good home.
We could go on talking forever about that incredible Banff, but let’s move on to more of the best of this month’s auction. As ever, we’ve unearthed some fantastic Macallan goodies – recent bottlings from the distillery include Macallan Concept No.3 2020 designed by David Carson, Macallan 25-year-old Sherry Cask and Macallan Folio Archival Series 6, but the real treasure this month is in the older bottlings, and there’s some absolute crackers.
It’s fair to say that the Macallan 1966 18-year-old, Macallan 1967 18-year-old and Macallan 1968 25-year-old are the cream of the crop this month, but there’s also some brilliant turn-of-the-century stuff such as the returning favourite Macallan Private Eye, Macallan 1980 18-year-old, the glorious 1990s Macallan 10-year-old 100-proof and the early Noughties Macallan 10-year-old Cask Strength. Yummy!
Macallan devotees will also be keeping close tabs on the Macallan Urwerk 2 Flask, an extraordinary piece of craftsmanship.
We’ve got some sensational OB treasures from Highland distilleries scattered liberally throughout this month’s whisky auction. Dalmore fanatics have their pick of the famous Dalmore 1974 Matusalem Sherry Finish or the slightly earlier cask strength Dalmore 1974 32-year-old – in fact, cask strength Highland fans are really spoiled for choice this month, as we’ve also got the very rare Glenturret 1967-1988 at a natural 50%, the sherried Glen Garioch 1986 16-year-old and the Dalwhinnie 15-year-old Cask Strength bottled in 2002 for the Friends of the Classic Malts.
Before we move on, I should mention that there’s also some fabulous old Highland drams from closed distilleries, including a pair of the magnificent old Campbell & Clark Glen Mhor 1969 and the criminally underrated Rare Malts Hillside (Glenesk) 1970 25-year-old packing a mighty 61.1% punch.
A handful of marvellous old Island drams this month, including a lovely dumpy bottle 1990s Highland Park 25-year-old and several wonderful old Taliskers from Diageo’s Special Release series. Included in the latter are, in reverse chronological order, the Talisker 1977 35-year-old from 2012, Talisker 30-year-old (2011), and two bottles of the absolutely glorious bourbon-matured Talisker 1982 20-year-old released in 2003.
In pretty much any other auction those gorgeous 1982 vintages would be the stars of the Talisker show, but this month we have something even better: the very first official Tally 25yo, Talisker 1975 25-year-old bottled in 2001 for the inaugural Special Releases!
Diageo’s very first Special Release range consisted of just two bottles: Port Ellen 1979 22-year-old and this Talisker 1975. It’s still the only single vintage 25-year-old Special Release Talisker and for many people it’s the best of the lot. Bottled from a mix of sherry and bourbon casks at 59.9%, a generous 6000 bottles of this Talisker were released at just under £100 and although malt fans who actually tasted it swooned at the delicious old school sherry funk combined with roaring Talisker peat and spice, it was still widely available for many years.
Nowadays, of course, it’s a different story and bottles of this historic first ever Talisker 25-year-old are pretty hard to come by. Having said that, prices for Special Release Taliskers are still generally very reasonable, with the best value being found among the brilliant non-vintage cask strength 25-year-olds and 30-year-olds that followed the 1975. Given the big money that the contemporary Broras and Port Ellens now fetch, the early Special Release Taliskers are still going for what seem surprisingly sensible prices considering how high quality they are, which is great news for drinkers.
Other mixed Diageo goodies worth mentioning this month include a full case each of the special Casks of Distinction Glen Spey 1990 25-year-old and Strathmill 1991 25-year-old single casks, plus bottles of the 2002 Special Release Oban 1969 32-year-old and Rare Malts classics Caol Ila 1975 20-year-old and St. Magdalene 1979 19-year-old.
We’ve had some lovely Irish whiskeys in recent auctions and this month there’s even more than usual, with some great old Midleton Very Rare bottles from 2006, 2008 and 2010. There’s also a pair of exciting bottles from Bushmills that we haven’t seen before: the special edition half-bottle Old Bushmills Black Bush 375th Anniversary from 1983 and, from the same period, a bottle of what we strongly suspect to be the first edition of Bushmills 10-year-old, complete with a hand-numbered special certificate. This is bottle Number 000008, which is pretty cool – could this really be the eighth bottle of Bushmills 10-year-old ever released?
Elsewhere, there’s a superb quintet of Gordon & MacPhail treasures from the 1930s and 1940s, comprising a 1980s bottling of Glenlivet 1938, the mysterious Old Elgin 1940, 1990s Glenlivet 1946, Linkwood 1946 and a 1980s Glenlivet 1949.
While we’re on Speyside, let’s have a look at a couple of sherry monsters – this chestnut Glen Grant 1965 40-year-old from Signatory Vintage caught our eye straight away this month, as did the very famous Glenfarclas 1961, one of the greatest late 20th century bottlings from this distillery.
We’ll finish with a couple of legendary Islay sherry monsters: the outstanding Bowmore 1972 21-year-old from 1993, and the stunning Ardbeg 1976 Cask 2394, bottled in 2000 for the Ardbeg Committee. The latter in particular is one dram that all fans of peat, sherry, Ardbeg or whisky in general should seize any opportunity to taste, it’s one of the greatest Ardbegs ever bottled, simple as that.
That’s it for this month, but of course this is only a tiny selection of the fantastic bottles in this month’s auction – check out the full sale, Good Luck and Happy Bidding!
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