Whisky-Online Auctions April Results 2019

The latest auction provided its usual variety of curiosities, eye-popping prices and interesting trend indicators. Perhaps most interesting was the Black Bowmore 1st Edition which sold for £16,100. This is a strong price for this bottle, not a record, but strong, and it perhaps speaks to the fact that there is now a steady supply of these kinds of bottles to the market. As consistently high and undeniably attractive prices bring these kinds of bottles to the market more often, it’s understandable that there will be fluctuation within a narrow bracket of consistent prices. Still, 16k for a bottle that was 4k only a few years back isn’t bad.

Similarly, the Laphroaig 1960 performed well at £4900 – typically towards the upper end of its current market value. As did the Macallan Diamond Jubilee at £3500. This is one of the best examples of the crazier side of Macallan these days. What is essentially a NAS bottling that very few people have ever opened selling for four figures speaks volumes about the potency this name still holds for many buyers and collectors.

Another bottle that returned after a brief period of absence was the Ardbeg 1976 cask 2390 for the Islay Festival 2002. A stunning dram that sits alongside the Manager’s Choice bottling in terms of quality. At £2700 these 70s sherried Ardbegs are starting to look like a good buy as other Islay distilleries (Laphroaig and Bowmore) start to sail past them in terms of hammer prices. I suspect these old Ardbeg single casks are due another jump in value in the near future.

Other notable results in the upper end of the sale were the Bowmore 1972 27-year-old for £1900, the 38-year-old Syndicate Lagavulin for £1650 and the Springbank 1967 SMWS 27.29 for £1500. All strong results that show slow but steady climbing values for these bottlings.

Speaking of climbing values, the rocketing interest in Irish Whiskey was ably demonstrated by the official Midleton 1987 bottling fetching £1350. A pretty eye-watering price any day of the week, but when you consider that the filling level was at the base of the shoulder it’s quite a mad result.

The Port Ellen 11th release and the official 32-year-old Springbank bottle both also saw strong results, finishing up at £1250 apiece. As did the Talisker 1967 100 proof; it’s always a delight to see these old G&M Taliskers. And speaking of Port Ellen, it’s interesting to note that the 2nd, 12th, 9th, another bottle of the 11th, 6th, 10th and 8th releases all sold for £1200 each. A strong indicator of where the baseline value of these old official Port Ellen releases is lying these days. Trailing them all was the 3rd release at £1150, even after all these years it’s interesting that the 3rd release, with its higher outturn of bottles, still lags slightly behind the others. Just creeping up to the four-figure mark was another Port Ellen, the 1979 36-year-old Xtra Old Particular bottling by Douglas Laing finished up at £1000 on the nose. Exactly the same price as the 1954 official vintage Glenfarclas bottled 2000. Fascinating to see such diverse bottles fetching identical prices.

Speaking of identical prices and diversity: Laphroaig 1988 30-year-old Syndicate and Brora 1972 Connoisseur’s Choice both finished at £875. While Compass Box’s ‘The General’ and the Manager’s Dram Glen Elgin 15-year-old both hit £900. Make of such results what you will.

The Talisker 1977 Special Release 35-year-old performed strongly at £825, as did the old Highland Park 1973 single cask 11151 for Oddbins at £875. Both bottlings which were static for quite some time and are now starting to climb upwards in price. Although interestingly the sibling Highland Park cask, 11167, fetched £750. Still a strong result but starting to show a bit of discrepancy between its twin. The same could be said for the Lagavulin 25-year-old 2002 Special Releases bottling. Long overshadowed by the 21 and 30-year-old releases in that series, the 25 is finally starting to get a little long overdue recognition.

Another Diageo series which is starting, after quite a long time, to show some upward trajectory, is the Manager’s Choice series. The Lagavulin 1993 and Clynelish 1997 both finished at £725, while the Caol Ila 1997 did £700. All strong results, interestingly matching the Linlithgow 30-year-old Special Release bottling also at £700. Now, let’s not forget that these are the ‘blue chip’ names in this series, I suspect many of the others will be some time in reaching these kinds of prices. Interestingly the Talisker 1994 was only £440 in comparison, that’s certainly a bottle which will no doubt be matching the others before long.

Moving further down the auction there were plenty of strong results. But some more notable examples were the Brora 1982 Connoisseur’s Choice for £500. Not so far away from the 1972 at £875 – I know which one I’d rather go for. Ironically, just as the Brora 72 was equal in price to a Laphroaig, so too was the 1982 matched by a Laphroaig Cask Strength litre bottling from the 1990s, also at £500.

A Gordon & MacPhail 1969 Mortlach bottled in 1999 looks good at £470. While the official 1984 vintage bottling of Bowmore from the 1990s at £410 seems like a funny price for such a notoriously ‘perfumed’ whisky. And speaking of funny prices, seeing a 1980s Rosebank 8-year-old and the Convalmore 1977 28-year-old Special Releases both at £410. Followed by the Octomore 01.1 and Glengoyne 1970 at £410 and £400 respectively proved a neat illustration of the sheer diversity of interest – and spending power – there is on the secondary market now. That four such diverse whiskies all fetched roughly the same price says a lot about the diversity of people and tastes that drive today’s secondary market. Something which can only be healthy in my view.

Looking over the rest of the sale there wasn’t much in the way of bargains. The only thing I’d point to would be the Old Vatted Highland Whisky bottled around the 1920s, at £310 this is the buy of the sale in my view. A real slice of history that should make a fascinating dram. But, that’s what whisky auctions are all about. Every so often you find something like this that’s never been seen before and you nab yourself a wee slice of liquid history!

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