November whisky auction results
Our most recent auction revealed a quirky mix of results. For starters, the Macallan 1990 hogshead in bond finished up at £49,500 which, in the context of recent results for bonded casks of Macallan of this age, appears somewhat middling. Although, in a wider context it is still mightily impressive given how swiftly the market has elevated these kinds of casks to such levels of value.
For the top end bottles, it was more business as usual. The Black Bowmore 1st Edition hit an online record of £17,600. Unsurprising in many ways given the weight of the iconography that now surrounds this series, not to mention the fact this is one of the rare examples of this bottling with a fill level still into the neck. Still, the greatest of the Black Bowmore bottlings and most likely will always remain the most sought after by collectors and drinkers alike. I doubt it will be long before we see this one comfortably above 20k.
Similarly, the 1964 Fino 37-year-old Bowmore continued its steady climb ever skywards with a healthy £14,600 result. Once again the legendary nature of the whisky in this series of bottlings all but guarantees it will never decrease in price for the foreseeable future. Another one that will no doubt break the 20k barrier quite soon.
Perhaps more interesting were the Brora 40-year-old and the Ardbeg 1965 which fetched £12,900 and £9300 respectively. The Brora is extremely highly regarded as a whisky – often considered one of, if not the, greatest Broras ever bottled. Little wonder it has nearly doubled its original retail price. The Ardbeg, however, is probably amongst the least highly regarded examples of aged Ardbeg from the 60s or 70s amongst the official releases. Although some way above its original price tag now, it has taken a long time to get there. Just goes to show the power of reputation and the effect it can have on the rapidity of price increase.
Other interesting examples around the top end of the sale were the Macallan 25-year-old crystal decanter for a hefty £3300, although hardly surprising for Macallan these days. While the Signatory bottling of Glenfarclas 1958 40-year-old for their 10th Anniversary which hit £3100 showed just how much traction this distillery now has at auction. The same can be said for the Glenugie 1980 Cadenhead White Label dark sherry release for Oddbins in the 1990s. Its hammer price of £2600 is a long way from the £400-600 it regularly fetched only a year or so ago.
Back to bonded casks and the results for the Tullibardines were interesting. £5300 and £3100 respectively for the sherry and bourbon casks. While nowhere near the 1990 Macallan this is still pricey for casks of Tullibardine. These prices mean that someone selling these whiskies once bottled would need to be thinking about a price tag nudging into three figures per bottle. That’s a lot for 12-year-old Tullibardine.
Elsewhere around the upper end of the sale the extremely rare Glenlochy 1958 26-year-old Cadenhead Dumpy fetched £2050 which almost seems like a bargain for such an amazing bottle. Just goes to show there are still wee bargains to be found in every sale – even at such heights.
The Springbank 12-year-old 100 proof bottling from the 1990s continued to show potency at auction with a price of £1550. Once again, how long before this bottling regularly trades above the 2k mark? The name Samaroli continues from strength to strength with the Longrow 1987 Dreams bottling finishing up at an impressive £1400. Interestingly a full hundred pounds above the Glen Moray 1959 40-year-old’s £1300. Very different whiskies but interesting to see where their values sit. Other notable results around this price level were the Bunnahabhain 1966 35-year-old which fetched £1100, good to see such a great whisky getting serious recognition. The same can be said for the Glen Garioch 1971 Oddbins bottling at £1100.
Dipping below this level and another older bottling that is starting to move north in price after a long static period is the Caol Ila 20-year-old 150th-anniversary bottling. Anyone who has ever tasted this one shouldn’t be surprised to see it nudging up to £775. No doubt it still has further to go.
Other prices that jump out include a Springbank 21-year-old tall bottle for £600, a Macallan 12-year-old litre for £625, a Bruichladdich 21-year-old cask strength with a lower level for £500 and a Springbank 15-year-old 1980s edition for £700! On the flip side, the bargain of the sale was undoubtedly a cask strength 1956 Smith’s Glenlivet for £450. Some other good value bottles were the Collector’s Item 1955 20-year-old Bourbon for £290, the SMWS 1978 Glenugie 17.5cl bottling for £310 and a beautiful 1930s Spey Royal half bottle for £165.
Overall there were perhaps a few more bargains, or at least ‘drinkably priced’ bottles towards the lower ranges of this sale. Even if it was generally the same story for more serious bottles at the mid and upper ranges of the sale. As ever, for the most sought-after bottlings, the prices are spiralling away into the stratosphere as we’ve come to expect. But the overall impression was a slightly more refreshing one than usual for those of us who like to scrabble about looking for the more reasonably priced ‘openable’ bottles. Good news and nice to see there are still some inklings of balance to today’s secondary market. Even if they remain fleeting.