One of the continuing trends in last night’s auction was the new trading levels of older, high-end Macallans. The Fine & Rare series continues to strengthen at auction with results of £10,600 and £8200 for the 1965 and 1971 respectively. Similarly the 1938 handwritten label – a bottle that has been static around the £5000 mark for quite some time – took a step higher again up to £6000. Other impressive prices at the top of the sale included the Laphroaig 1960 for Oddbins with a whopping £5900 hammer price, the Highland Park 1958 with a very healthy £2800 and a Macallan Royal Marriage for £2700.
But it wasn’t just the expected heavy hitters. Increasingly we’re seeing the old and rare whiskies creeping into the very upper levels of the auction, bottles which, until recently, might not have gone into four figures at all. The Springbank 1965 Cadenhead White Label series fetched a cool £2450 and the Talisker 1957 100 proof £2250, both showing just how intense the competition and desire for these magnificent liquids are becoming these days.
The rest of the upper end of the auction was the same story of consistency and top end market value for most of the bottles. There was an impressive selection of Macallan and looking over all the various vintages and expressions so regularly seen at auction now, what strikes is just how many of these bottles have moved from the £700-1000 mark into the £1500-2000 bracket over the past year. Will this pace continue of will we see a plateau effect for a while?
Some other impressive results for older bottlings were the Macallan As We Get It 1960s bottling which finished up at £1200. Demand for older examples of this series seems to be going up and up these days. Similarly an old example of Ainslie’s King’s Legend (a Clynelish heavy blend) from around 1930 with a spring cap settled on a muscular £1250. As knowledge about old blends and their constituent malts has proliferated in recent years we’ve seen a remarkable corresponding jump in their prices at auction.
The thirst for old Midleton bottlings continues unabated with a 1987 example hitting £1100. The Laphroaig Cairdeas 30 year old passed the £1000 mark with a hammer price of £1050 and the Bowmore 1972 and Glen Moray 1959 distillery releases settled comfortably on £1000 apiece.
Moving down through the sale there were strong results for the scarcely seen Balblair 1951 private bottling at £900, the Bowmore 1980 Still Decanter at £925, the Glenmorangie 1993 Truffle Oak at £875, the Lochside 1965 46-year-old by Adelphi at £775. And a 1977 30-year-old Macallan by Douglas Laing and the Laphroaig 13-year-old festival bottling both at £750 look like quite remarkable prices for these bottlings.
It seems that it isn’t only the upper-end Macallans that are hitting new trading levels, but their midrange bottlings have all moved up a notch as well. The NAS Cask Strength bottling from the early 2000s hit a whopping £750, the 1990 15-year-old Easter Elchies hit £725 and the 2011 Easter Elchies hit £900! It wasn’t just Macallan though, there was a whole host of bottlings going for what some might call ‘crazy money’. Another Midleton – the 1991 bottling this time – finished up at £725, a Glendullan 1967 32 year old by Cadenheads hit a remarkable £700 (you could buy these at auction for £200-300 quite recently) as did the Ardbeg 1998 – 2011 Festival release. All quite remarkable prices. Perhaps less surprisingly a Brora 1972 cask end fetched £625.
Looking through the sale from the mid-range down there are very few bargains. A 1966 Dalwhinnie at £410 seems like a decent price but not by much, as does the Glenrothes 1972 and 1984 vintage pair for the same amount. Some of the old Gordon & MacPhail Strathislas and Glen Grants for under the £250 mark finished up at very drinkable prices.
In conclusion, though, it was a hugely impressive sale. One that cements new trading levels for numerous Macallans as well as many bottles which, as recently as last year, could be picked up for a few hundred pounds less. There were a few ‘bargains’ around the lower-mid ends of the sale but by and large it was a consistent and impressive slew of results.