Cast your mind back, if you will, to July and recall how we all gawped at two casks of 1993 Macallan upon which the hammer finally fell at £55,900 and £52,600. Madness we cried. Well, last night a similar pair of casks fetched £90,600 and £82,100 a piece (although Cask 2317 would currently yield 65 more bottles than Cask 2316, quality prevailed over quantity). What are we to make of this? Appetite is clearly through the roof, not just for possessing great old bottles, but also for having your own bottling from a legendary distillery – even if it isn’t official. Some will decry it as madness, others will say it is a natural function of supply and demand with ever-dwindling supply. About the only thing we can all agree on, I suspect, is: if you’ve also got a privately owned cask of mature Macallan slumbering away in a bond somewhere, perhaps now might be the time to think about doing something with it…
And all this before we get onto the fact that a barrel of 1990 Littlemill fetched £31,100. This seems a little more manageable in the light of the Macallan results and the fact that this liquid is of significant age from a closed distillery makes this result seems just slightly more realistic. Still, suddenly owning your own cask of whisky suddenly seems like retrospectively a great idea in the 1990s.
Onto the bottles (will this become a regular thing to write in the second or third paragraphs of these reports in future?). A full set of the Bowmore ‘colours’ trilogy hit an impressive £30,100 – or about £10k a piece which is sturdy upper market value. This was followed by the Macallan 1946 – a bottle which was selling for £6000-8000 not so long ago – at £12,100. As we’ve said before in these reports, where will such bottles end up eventually? Is there a peak for such whiskies? Perhaps the most striking results were the Clynelish 1965 Corti Brothers bottling for £8100. A bundle of these turned up in America last year and already this is around double its recent retail price. The power of an immense reputation and legendary distillate still goes an exceptionally long way in today’s market. Similarly, the Glenury Royal 50-year-old selling for £8100 was quite flabbergasting. This was pretty much a retail price for this bottle given that the previous best result was with us in February this year for £4100. This is likely a spike but it does suggest this beautiful and often overlooked bottle will soon be trading at a new high.
The following run of Macallans were all at upper current market value and showed no signs of the thirst for these old sherried beauties diminishing. It was good to see the Caol Ila 15 Manager’s Dram continue its ever skyward trudge finishing at £2800 on this occasion, just a hair under the £3000 we achieved for another in September. Although, considering that almost all the legendary peat/sherry bottlings are now starting to sail past the £6000 mark, does this make the Caol Ila begin to seem a bit cheaper by comparison?
One surprise from Macallan was the Easter Elchies 2008 edition hitting a mighty £2800. While this is a great dram, it isn’t in the same league liquid wise as the old Campbell Hope & King bottlings. It goes to show that with Macallan, so much of it is about the name and about collectability. And its popularity with the deeply pocketed.
A pair of Sherriff’s Bowmore’s finished up at £2150 and £2050 a piece which is the first time these bottlings have gone past the £2000 mark. Demand for these old rarities and examples of legendary liquid seems insatiable at the moment. Although, it’s important to remember this is no doubt helped by a weak pound as well. A good time to sell if you’re in the UK and have these kinds of bottles no doubt.
There were further healthy results for a Glenfiddich 1976 Concorde edition at £1800 and a single cask 1954 Mortlach by Gordon & MacPhail for £1750. The Lagavulin 38-year-old Syndicate bottlings look reasonable around the £1500 mark for now, but I bet you anything they won’t stay at that level for long. The Ainslie’s King’s Legend 1940s bottling showed it isn’t just malts that can fetch crazy prices these days, legendary blends are attracting serious attention as well with this beautifully preserved example all the way up at £1400.
Dalmore got a look in as well with a 1981 Amoroso Sherry Finish ending up at an impressive £1300 – it seems Dalmore still has plenty of admirers out there. The Springbank 12-year-old 1990s 100 proof edition is another bottle which only seems to go from strength to strength off the back of its legendary liquid with this one hitting £1250.
Around the £1000 mark, there were a number of notable results. Including the Brora 1972 Connoisseur’s Choice which hit £1000 for the first time. The Glenfiddich 1978 34-year-old also hit the four-figure threshold. As did the Laphroaig Cairdeas 30-year-old, a bottling which has kind of crept up under the radar over the past couple of years and is now seemingly outflanking the original 30-year-old. One of the more curious bottles at the £1000 mark was the Jameson 7 year old from the 1930s, it seems appetite for Irish Whiskey is still going strong.
The rare pair of Talisker 8-year-olds from the late 1960s were two of the more interesting bottles this auction. The clear glass one hit an unsurprising £925 – being the rarer of the two variants – while the green glass one hit £700 – both solid results for beautiful bottles. Another interesting result at this level was the Lagavulin 15-year-old White Horse ceramic at £875. These have long been around the £300-400 mark and represented great value considering how stunning the whisky is. Speaking of White Horse, there was a great spread of these bottles in this auction with the 1940s example hitting the high of £925 while other examples followed at £825 and £775. Again these old legendary blends build around famous distilleries such as Lagavulin are understandably becoming more and more desirable.
There were literally too many bottles in this auction to talk about. So a few more highlights is all we really have space and time for. A 1990s Macallan As We Get It for £625 shows any sherried Macallan seems to be guaranteed a high price these days. £525 for an Edradour 30-year-old shows that even lesser regarded distilleries still have gems which can be keenly fought over. And even brand new distilleries can drive people a little crazy with the Wolfburn first release hitting £380.
I always like to try and highlight a few bargains in these sales and there were one or two. The Jura 1966 Signatory for £650 seems a fair price considering this liquid’s reputation. The Stuart’s Rare Old 27-year-old from the 1960s at £350 seems a bargain. But then, in a sale often dominated by amazing old blends, it seems unsurprising that one or two might slip through. The same could be said of the two 1930s Hanky Bannisters for £230 and £145. And the Talisker 30-year-old 2006 edition for £240 is an utter bargain. But really there were slim pickings on this front. By and large, this was a sale which on confirmed and cemented the stratospheric prices which whiskies – and other great spirits – are achieving across the board just now. Will it last? That remains to be seen. For now though, you could do a lot worse than be a seller in this market.
Next Auction Starts Wednesday 25th October
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