Rather unsurprisingly, it was Macallan back near the top of the auction last night with the 1946 52-year-old – always a bottle we like to see – sitting very comfortably at £12,300. Slightly down on some previous results but still a strong showing.

More interestingly, the cask of 1995 Tobermory finished up in the number one spot at £13,000, a higher price than such a cask would have fetched a few years back but still looking reasonable for today’s market. Has the mania for casks at auction started to settle into something resembling common sense? We shall see. For now, though, £13k for a 1995 Tobermory is a solid result.

Top Lots

Moving further down through the top lots in the sale there were some expected results such as the Strathisla 1957 Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Ultra for £4700 and the Macallan 30-year-old for £4000. However, there were some more interesting and revealing results as well. Such as the case of Dunville’s half bottles rotation 1948 at £4000. Including commission that works out at £195 per bottle. Not bad for buyer or seller and a good indication of the continuing thirst there is for old Irish Whiskeys these days.

Ultra Rare Whiskies

This auction contained some particularly stunning and rare bottles, such as the cask strength version of the Bunnahabhain 1947 bottled in 1975 by Matthew Gloag. The more common 75 proof version is already something of a legend so to find this incredible 90.5 proof variant is a real coup. It’s no surprise that it finished up at £3600 after an extra half hour of bidding. Then on top of that, there was the immaculate Cadenhead’s bottling of Old Pulteney at 85 proof from the 1960s. Again it wasn’t a surprise to see it fetch £3000. For many serious whisky lovers these are dream bottles, they’ll always entail a fight when they appear on the secondary market.

The same can be said of the Miltonduff 13-year-old official 85 proof bottling from circa 1960. Another incredible and legendary whisky and again in immaculate condition. These used to trade for £400-500 not so long ago but, once again, it wasn’t a big surprise to see it hit £2150.

More Surprising Results

One of the more notable surprises last night was the Port Ellen 1st release. This bottling has been in a bit of a slump recently, sometimes selling as low as £1200. So it was heartening to see it back up at a very healthy £2500. Other Islay malts in the four-figure range did well too. Notably, the Lagavulin Syndicate 38-year-old and the Laphroaig 1977 at £1550 and £1450 respectively.

It was unsurprising to see the George Strachan’s Rosebank 34-year-old at £1400. However, it was interesting to note that the two bottles of Roses Edition 3 21-year-old Rosebank both hit £1100. Rosebank, in general, seems to be on the up, but it seems that the aesthetic allure of this series is giving it quite an added lift at auction.

Around £1,000

Around the £1000 mark, there was the usual raft of Macallans all doing what they should be doing, however, it was interesting to see the 15-year-old Gran Reserva at £900. Even now, Macallan can still surprise you at auction. And speaking of surprises: the Glen Grant 1952 25-year-old Jubilee edition from Gordon & MacPhail fetched £900. These normally waver around the £350-480 mark. Is this the start of a new price level or just an aberration? Will be interesting to see what happens with the next one of these. It stands out especially next to the SMWS Bowmore 1976 3.4 which finished at £825 – and that’s a bottle which gets 93 points on Whiskyfun and is considerably rarer than the Glen Grant. Interesting times and yet another funny result in what was an interesting auction full of unusual wee price spikes and inversions of value.

Mid Range Lots

Drifting down through the auction there were quite a few nice bottles in this sale. Particularly the beautifully preserved Glen Scotia 8-year-old official bottling at 80 proof from the 1960s. £675 is a good result for any Glen Scotia, but given the historic nature of this bottle now, even that seems a tad on the bargain side. Interestingly, the next Campbeltown malt down in the sale was the recently released Springbank 24-year-old single cask at £600 – a fair whack over its retail price.

Always interesting to see are the Signatory decanter bottlings. There were two in this sale: the Glenburgie 1962 36-year-old and the Dailuaine 1962 36-year-old. Both bottled for the 10th anniversary of Signatory and fetching £575 and £525 respectively. I’m always baffled as to why on earth they filled such grand whiskies into these silly decanters with so much head space, but even now, 20 years later, they’re still fetching solid prices. How long will they last though…?

Liquid Quality vs Bottle Quality

Another fun result was the Bowmore 12-year-old official dumpy bottling from circa 1980 with a low fill level and the Signatory single cask bottling of 1980 28-year-old Bowmore. Both fetched £250. An excellent example of how the perception of liquid condition and quality can sometimes meet in the middle. One should be pretty bad but in good nic; the other should be pretty amazing but possibly a bit on the fragile side. And speaking of Bowmore there were quite a few in this auction, with many of the more lauded 1990s distillates hitting the same or higher prices than their 1980s counterparts. More proof that the quality of the liquid is still one of the most powerful influencing factors on the secondary market. Long may it remain so!

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