Whisky Auction Results January 2019

Our last auction ended with a hefty slew of impressive and interesting prices. Not least a Macallan Lalique 55-year-old second edition which crowned the auction off at £45,100. Not a record for this bottle but a sign of a significantly healthy market for old Macallan. No surprises there, but it will be interesting to see what 2019 has in store for this auction behemoth of a brand.

Also interesting was the Brora 1972 40-year-old finishing up at £15,200. Suddenly the original retail price of £7000 doesn’t look quite so daft anymore. An astonishing whisky and one of the greatest Broras ever bottled make this an understandable high flyer these days. Brora will be another very interesting name to watch this year I expect.

Macallan hitting a new record price

The Macallan 1946 52-year-old managed on online record of £15,100, while the 40-year-old 2016 release wasn’t far behind on £14,300; further evidence of Macallan’s continued dominance. Although, it was interesting to note the difference in the two 1946 bottlings in this sale, the one with the lower filling level only hit £9200. Quite a discrepancy, one which underlines the impact and importance of a good filling level in such bottles.

Wading through the Macallans at the top of the sale, all of which pretty much performed as impressively as expected, we come to the Ardbeg 1967 30-year-old oloroso sherry cask at £3200. This was one of a slew of old sherried Ardbegs bottled in the 1990s by Signatory, all of which have deservedly potent reputations. They’re extremely scarce these days so it’s no surprise to see them fetching this kind of money. Although, interestingly, another incredible Ardbeg, the Manager’s Choice 1976, fetched £2900. Certainly a hefty price but not much above where it’s been sitting for at least a year now. Another bottle that may well have some significant upward traction coming soon.

Closed distillery bottling from the 1970s perform

An old Clynelish 12 year old from the 1970s proved the mileage still in this remarkable name with a hammer price of £2600. The iconic, pre-Brora, Clynelish whisky is increasingly being seen as one of the most revered makes ever produced and its prices are continually reflecting this. Back to the Ardbeg and a rare Cadenhead’s White Label 1975 bottling for Oddbins fetched a whopping £2300. Outstripping the stunning Talisker 1973 Special Releases of which there were only 100 bottles produced at £2150.

 

Other notable results around the upper end of the sale were the Laphroaig 1967 First Cask at £2050, the Lagavulin 38-year-old Syndicate bottling holding at £1600 and a Dalmore 1978 Sherry Finesse at a surprising £1500. A little further down an Ainslie’s King’s Legend spring cap bottling from the 1950s further fortifies the old Clynelish reputation with a final price of £1100. Outstripping even a Talisker 1967 Gordon & MacPhail 100 proof bottling at £1075. On the button at £1000 a 1936 MacPhail’s 45-year-old looks like a particularly good buy for anyone seeking out these pre-war relics for vaguely accessible prices these days.

Whiskies below £1,000

Dipping below the four-figure mark and the Caol Ila 32-year-old Director’s Special hit a new record high of £975, equalling a Rare Malts 1972 Clynelish which is no mean feat for a recently bottled Caol Ila. Also impressive were the Glengoyne Millennium Clock 30 year old at £950 and the Benromach 1998 20th anniversary bottling at £875. The Oban 16 Manager’s Dram still looks strong at £775, while conversely, the Macallan 10-year-old 100 proof from the 1990s looks like a slight bargain at the same price. Very much a sale of inversions at times it seems.

A 1954 28-year-old Glenrothes Connoisseur’s Choice did well at £725, as did another Gordon & MacPhail bottling: the Talisker 25-year-old Silver Jubilee edition at the same price. Another Manager’s Dram continued to climb, this time the Glen Elgin 16 year old which hit an impressive £600. Demand seems to be increasing for this series across the board at the moment. Something which can also be said for Irish Whiskey, as evidenced by the healthy £570 paid for the old 1930s 9-year-old Bushmills.

Whisky Bargains

Digging around for bargains, perhaps the Glendronach 1975 by Ian MacLeod looks good at £460. As does the old Lagavulin 11 year old from the 1980s at the same price. But bargains were generally thin on the ground this sale and I’m not sure those two even really count properly.

Caol Ila was another name that seems to have solidified a bit recently as well. The Cadenhead 1978 White Label and the Rare Malts 1975 both did well at £410 apiece. Scapa is another name that seems to be acquiring some more serious bidding attention as well, a 1990 SMWS 13-year-old example fetched an impressive £330. Outstripping such bottles as a Port Ellen 1982 18-year-old Provenance at £310 and a Glen Elgin 1972 30-year-old Platinum bottling at £320. Impressive stuff, although no doubt also helped along by the fact it is also an SMWS bottling and they seem to also be flying ever higher of late.

Whisky for the drinkers’

For drinkers, there were some good buys to be had a little lower down in the sale, a 1974 20-year-old Highland Park First Cask bottling for £190 looks pretty juicy. As does a Signatory bottling of 1976 24-year-old Convalmore for £170. Another curious result was the Johnnie Walker Around The World book published to mark the brand’s centenary in 1920. A fascinating piece of whisky history about one of its most iconic brands, it fetched £105. A lot for a book, but also an item which I thought might have gone a bit higher as well.

Overall a very interesting auction, lots of wee inversions of price and curious results which perhaps hint towards some new trends and developments in 2019. We’ll just have to wait and see how everything plays out of course, but for now, one thing is certain: it’s still very much a seller’s market for now.

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