Welcome to our September Auction Highlights! As ever, we have some truly outstanding rare old collectable single malt whiskies from blue chip distilleries including Macallan, Bowmore, Glen Grant and Highland Park, as well as some hidden gems and some terrific independent bottlings, so let’s crack on. 

We’ll start with the Macallan – recent Macallans in this months auction include Macallan Rare Cask, Macallan 21-Year-Old Fine Oak and the Macallan Ruby – one of the better recent releases and one that doesn’t come up at auction so often these days. 

Older Macallans in this month’s auction, meanwhile, include the short-lived Macallan Elegancia 12-Year-Old litre bottle for travel retail, Macallan 1970 18-Year-Old and Macallan 1977 18-Year-Old. There’s two real stars in this month’s Macallan show, however.

First up is the stunning Macallan 1962 100-Proof bottled by Gordon & MacPhail at the very end of the 1970s. This was the end of the era where G&M were semi-official bottlers for Macallan, immediately before the company took their official releases in-house with the release of the Anniversary Collection and the Macallan 18-year-old at the beginning of the 1980s.

There’s been several different bottlings of 1962 Macallan from around this era and a little earlier, including some spectacular bottlings at 80-proof (46) for Italy, but this 100-proof (57.1%) version is incredibly rare – it doesn’t even have a whiskybase listing. All the 80-proof 1962 Macallans have been a gorgeous mix of rich fruit, tobacco, exotic teas, patisserie and much much more, so at 100-proof this is going to be something very special indeed.

The other real unicorn Macallan this month is the Macallan 12-Year-Old British Aerospace Spirit of Woodford. This is another whisky that is so rare that it hasn’t got a whiskybase profile yet, and it’s the first of its type we’ve ever seen. This Macallan 12 Year Old was one of a series of private bottlings done for British Aerospace in the late 1980s.

Like many distilleries in the 1980s Macallan had surplus stock and were therefore amenable to private bottlings for prestigious clients.  The Macallan British Aerospace bottlings were relabelled versions of the company’s standard 12 year old, so the liquid will be 1970s distilled, fully sherry-matured Macallan.

Each BAe Macallan bottling had custom labels with images of some of the company’s aeroplanes – other known BAe bottles feature the BAe Jetstream and the ATP Advanced Turbo-Prop. This rarer version was bottled specifically for British Aerospace Woodford, the aircraft factory and airfield owned by British Aerospace between 1977-2011. The bottle image is therefore titled Spirit of Woodford, and features the company’s RJ Family of Airliners on the overlaid label and the outer box.

This Spirit of Woodford Macallan 12 year old must be among the last surviving bottles of its type as these were given only to staff and VIP customers and were often served to guests at corporate dinners.

Historical Highland Park

It’s been a while since we’ve seen so many unusual and interesting bottles from Macallan’s Edrington stablemate Highland Park in one sale.  There’s so many great HPs this month that we don’t have enough space to list all of them here, but selected highlights include the underrated Highland Park Hjarta from 2009, a rare cask strength Highland Park 12-Year-Old Millennium and Highland Park Lunar 18 ⅗ Year Old, one of just 500 bottles produced in 2006 to celebrate the moon’s nutation (yes, this is really a word).

Best of all, though, is this single cask Highland Park 1980 21-Year-Old: this was a special staff-only edition and was never available at public retail. Cask 8421 was a single sherry hogshead selected to commemorate a teambuilding visit to Orkney by Maxxium and Highland Distillers top brass in 2001 and was bottled on its 21st birthday on 16th October 2001 at its cask strength of 50.5%. 

Just 252 bottles of this Highland Park 1980 were produced and as they were distributed to staff around Christmas time 20 years ago it’s probably fair to say that there’s unlikely to be too many still out there in the wild.

Old School OBs

Anyone trying to understand just why single malt whisky became so popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s can find plenty of answers in this month’s auction, which features a slew of classic official bottlings from great distilleries. The vast majority of these wonderful whiskies went for extraordinarily reasonable prices back in the day and many of them are still great value even now that their quality has been recognised.

Top class entry-level or ‘standard’ official bottlings this month include early versions of familiar classics like Talisker 10-Year-Old, Longmorn 15-Year-Old, Lagavulin 16-Year-Old White Horse, the everyday brilliance of 1980s Glenfarclas 8-Year-Old 105 alongside less recognised gems such as the 1980s Glen Garioch 10-Year-Old, a 1980s Bruichladdich 15-Year-Old, and the beautifully elegant Balvenie Founders Reserve 10-Year-Old long-necked bottle from the early 1990s.

Prestige or flagship bottlings from the same era include the magnificent 1980s Glenfarclas 21-Year-Old, Aberlour 1964 25-Year-Old, the fabulous early 1990s Springbank 25-Year-Old and two extraordinary official Bowmores: Bowmore 1970 21-Year-Old and one of the fabulous Bowmore 1973 Oddbins bottlings from the early 1990s.

The Oddbins 1973 Bowmores are famous among Islay fans, being an early example of the great relationship between Bowmore and one of the UK’s groundbreaking wine retailers in the 1990s and early ‘00s – this partnership would later produce the legendary 99-bottle Oloroso hogshead Bowmore 1964 35 year old in 2000. 

Oddbins selected four sister sherry butts of Bowmore distilled on 16th June 1973 which were bottled as two separate editions, with casks 5173 & 5174 for one bottling and casks 5175 & 5176 for the other. Each edition yielded around 1400 bottles at 43%.

These sister bottlings of 1973 were, as Oddbins proudly pointed out on the back label, the first time that Bowmore had bottled the 1973 vintage. No bottling date is given, but as the bottles are 75cl it can’t have been later than 1991. Bowmore released further 1973 vintage bottlings soon afterwards and today 1973 is regarded as one of the best of the distillery’s 1970s vintages. We’re already jealous of whoever ends up with this superstar bottling.

First Cask Bonanza

It’s great to see the old First Cask series of independent bottlings finally getting the recognition they deserve. Bottled in the 1990s and early Noughties by Direct Wines, the UK’s largest mail order wine company, the casks for this series were sourced from Signatory Vintage and include some genuine treasures – all bottled at 46%. A significant number of very rarely-bottled lost distilleries appeared as First Cask single malts over the years so we’re delighted to have picked up a big crop for this month’s whisky auction.

There are some tremendous First Cask bottles this month including Glenlivet 1974 24-year-Old, Glen Grant 1976 20-Year-Old, Glen Grant 1976 24-Year-Old, Glendronach 1975 23-Year-Old, Caol Ila 1974 23-Year-Old and Balblair 1975 22-Year-Old. The selection of rare First Cask bottlings from closed distilleries is amazing, with Glen Albyn 1974 26-Year-Old, Linlithgow (St. Magdalene) 1975 24-Year-Old, Convalmore 1981 16-Year-Old and Port Ellen 1980 16-Year-Old just a few of the gems on offer.

Indie Roundup

We’re running out of space but there’s plenty of superb indie bottlings in this month’s auction too. 

Brief highlights include a quartet of Cadenhead’s Cask Strength White Labels, including the famous Clynelish 1972 and Springbank 1980We’ve also got one of the famous Cadenhead Springbank 1973 18-year-Old Rum Butt bottlings – this is the lighter of the two and sister of the legendary dark ‘Green Springbank’. And while we’re talking about Springbank, fans of the distillery would do well to check out the twin Tesco bottlings of Campbeltown 1972 and Campbeltown 1975 bottled in the early 1990s (just saying).

Gordon & MacPhail are of course well represented as usual, with standout bottlings this month including Glen Grant 50 Year Old, Brora 1972-1992 and for the unicorn hunters a wonderful old Kinclaith 1966 16-Year-Old.

Top Class Malternatives

Last month we were bowled over to briefly get our hands on the legendary Jack Daniel’s Scenes of Lynchburg 2 UDV Special Edition from 1999 – well, would you believe it, it seems that all the fuss we made caught someone’s eye because we’ve got another one!

And that’s not all.  We’re absolutely delighted this month to have found one of the most legendary collectable Cognacs – the incredible Courvoisier Erté Inédit Jarnacaise (often known as Courvoisier Erté Inédit Not For Sale). This ridiculously rare beauty is from a parcel of tasting stock on the Venice Simplon Orient Express luxury train which took VIPs from Verona to Paris for the launch event in November 1995 and was never for sale at retail – read the full story here.

Cognac-fanciers are well catered for this month, with other highlights including a 1980s Hennessy Napoleon library decanter, Courvoisier Silver Jubilee and an old 1970s edition of Martell Cordon Bleu.  And speaking of malternatives and Silver Jubilees, we’ve also got this Silver Jubilee Very Special Rum 100-Proof bottled in 1977 for Her Maj.

To go with these extra special spirits, there’s even some top-drawer vintage cigars in our auction this month, including La Aurora, King Edward and some lovely Bolivar Coronas.

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

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