Whisky-Online Auctions March Results 2019

Our latest auction featured a nice mix of the surprising and the consistent. The top lot being, rather predictably, the 1946 Macallan at £13,500. Down a little from our previous sale of this bottle at £15,100, and considering this was a 75cl US market version this perhaps could be seen in some lights as a bit of a bargain. However, we should remember this is still a pretty serious price for a bottle we were all speculating about whether it would ever break the five-figure mark not so long ago.

Perhaps more interesting was the Black Bowmore 2nd edition with low(ish) filling level that fetched £12,000. We expect these kinds of prices from the 1st edition but this is proof, if it were really needed, of just how much iconography and desire has built up around this entire series.

Perhaps most notable around the top end of the sale, however, was the Glenugie 1980 12-year-old Cadenhead 150th anniversary bottling selling for a whopping £4200. This is one of the highest prices ever paid for a Glenugie at auction and certainly a record for this particular bottling. Given the notorious quality of this bottling and many others from Glenugie, it’s perhaps not surprising to see this sort of result in this day and age. But, even still, to see this bottling competing at a similar price level to 1960 Laphroaig and 1972 Broras is really quite something. An anomaly? I doubt it.

Elsewhere, wading through the Macallans – all of them performing solidly at upper market value – it was good to see the scarcely seen Ardbeg 1974-2002 for Oddbins at £3200. While a Bowmore 1968 37-year-old looks strong at £2800, but, when you think about the quality of the whisky inside this bottle, it’s not unthinkable that it’s still got quite a way to go.

Another reminder of the potency of quality perception came in the form of the Clynelish 12-year-old late 1960s 12-year-old bottling. Containing whisky from the original pre-Brora distillery, it’s unsurprising that it fetched £2000 on the nose. These bottles are also going nowhere but upwards in value considering their scarcity and the quality of the liquid.

One of the star bottles of this auction was undoubtedly the Glendronach 18-year-old, an extremely rare official sherry matured release bottled for Japan in the 1980s. Hardly ever seen on the UK market, it’s no surprise to see this one finish at £1550. Although, while a high price, it’s also a good price for the buyer as this is not likely to be an opportunity that presents itself again anytime soon. And what’s more, as we discovered at the Whisky Show Old & Rare in February, the liquid is incredible.

Other notable prices were £1500 for a Port Ellen 1st release that had suffered some evaporation. A good illustration of the fact that these sorts of whisky’s value is still very much allied to the liquid itself. The Glen Elgin 15-year-old Manager’s Dram continued its skyward march with a hammer price of £1250. This is the last time I’ll point it out in this report, but it really is an incredible dram and these consistently high results shouldn’t come as any surprise. Next to it the Springbank 32-year-old official bottling still looks pretty good at £1200, still some way to climb for this bottling I suspect.

Cadenhead dumpies always do well, but it’s nice to see a lesser name like the Imperial 1962 18-year-old hit an impressive £1100 – again this is a terrific whisky so no surprise. Interesting to see the Lagavulin 25-year-old Special Release at £875 compared to the later 21-year-old at £1350. Understandably people love sherried Lagavulin and the 21 is a modern classic. However, I do think the 25 is seriously underrated and will prove a bit of a sleeper hit in years ahead.

Tullibardine 1966 cask 1112 at £775 shows these great older official single casks are finally starting to climb. They were ridiculous bargains for a long time so it’s no great surprise. Something which was a surprise was the Glenisla 1977 37-year-old Signatory bottling at £700 – some way over what these bottlings usually fetch. A spike? We shall see.

While many of the Manager’s Drams are racing ahead, the Ord 16-year-old at £440 is still, in my view, a very good price. Especially considering it is amongst the very best drams in the series. Old Glen Ord is perhaps one of the few makes which is still ‘slightly’ undervalued at auction. Brechin 1970 33 year old by Douglas Laing and the Glenlochy 1965 Gordon & MacPhail Rare Old were also both good buys at £430 apiece.

However, a few bottles here and there, it’s still the same old story of pretty much everything working its way up to market value and beyond. There are so many people, with such diversity of taste, watching these auctions now that finding bargains really becomes a challenge. Perhaps a North Port 1975 24 year old by Signatory at £235 was a pretty good price, but there’s otherwise pretty slim pickings.

It’s always interesting to see how the lower end of the sale evolves from month to month. What increasingly strikes is the fact that so many bottles that would originally have been around the £30-50 range are now approaching the £80-100 mark – or above. Perhaps more than the top end of the sale, this is the strongest barometer of the attention the secondary market is receiving these days. After all, it’s more diverse and a more exciting way to buy your whisky than the traditional retail route. Fascinating times. Let’s see what next month brings…

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