Fourth Dedicated Alex Barclay Miniature Auction
It’s time for the fourth of our series of auctions featuring the collection of the president of the Mini Bottle Club, Alex Barclay. Last summer we collected over 5000 miniatures from Alex and he was kind enough to talk to us about this magnificent collection here. This month’s auction features another raft of fantastic miniatures and is dominated by Cadenhead’s – below are just a few of the highlights so make sure to check out the auction in full!
It’s not just about Cadenhead’s this month, of course – there’s also some amazing minis from other important independent bottlers including Douglas Laing, Hart Brothers and Duncan Taylor plus some beauties from smaller bottlers like Master of Malt. As ever, there are some real gems including many malts distilled in the 1960s and ‘70s and a ton of hard-to-find whiskies from closed distilleries.
We’ll start with Cadenhead’s. The collection represents an amazing history of this crucial independent bottler – pick a distillery, no matter how rare, and there’s probably a Cadenhead’s version here.
For starters, there’s a lot of whiskies distilled a very long time ago, including Blair Athol 1966, Benrinnes 1962, Glenfiddich 1963, Dalmore 1963, St. Magdalene 1964, Ord 1962, Macallan 1963, Bowmore 1964, and this fabulous Ardbeg 14yo bottled in the 1970s.
The Ardbeg illustrates an issue with many of the earlier Cadenhead’s bottlings: that they display an age but not a vintage. Some elementary detective work is required – in this instance, the fact that the strength is listed at 80 proof tells us the whisky was bottled in the 1970s, and therefore must have been distilled prior to 1966. The same logic makes these minis of Mortlach 22yo, Glen Grant 16yo and Springbank 17yo possibly even earlier – the Springbank cannot have been distilled later than 1962 while the Mortlach must be from the 1950s.
Alongside a few great examples from perennial favourites Brora and Port Ellen (I particularly like the look of the Brora 1982 bottled at a hefty 60.4% and a very unusual Port Ellen 15yo, whose label seems to suggest only 14 were bottled), Cadenhead’s also had access to casks from very rarely-seen distilleries – a few of these unicorn bottlings include Convalmore 1962, Lochside 1962, Coleburn 1978, Glen Esk (aka Hillside) 1982, Millburn 13yo, an incredible Glen Lochy 27yo bottled in the 1980s and those rarest of rarities: Littlemill and Kinclaith.
It’s a testament to the astonishing depth of Alex’s collection that neither the Littlemill nor the Kinclaith are the sole examples from these distilleries in this auction! Duncan Taylor chip in with a Kinclaith 1969, while there’s also a Hart Brothers Littlemill 1984 and the pre-Atom incarnation of Master of Malt have Littlemills from 1975 and 1990.
Moving away (reluctantly) from Cadenhead’s, let’s look at Hart Brothers: highlights include Bunnahabhain 1967, a classic Bowmore 1968, Benriach 1968, Ballindalloch 1967 (Glenfarclas), Macallan 1968, Glen Grant 1972, and a magnificent 40yo Glenfiddich 1964.
The (pre-Boutiquey) 1990s incarnation of Master of Malt are well represented – aside from the two Littlemills there’s Port Ellen 12yo, an Ardbeg 18yo in terrific condition and a Bunnahabhain 1964 25yo.
Duncan Taylor, meanwhile, have some beauties: Bowmore 1968, Macallan 1968 and Springbank 1967 are probably the top picks. Douglas Laing have plenty of Port Ellen, as you’d expect (I like the look of this Port Ellen 23yo), plus Caol Ila 24yo, Ardbeg 24yo, and a tantalising Ben Nevis 37yo. And of course the SMWS have some very exciting stuff too, including Rosebank 1980, St. Magdalene 1975, Ardbeg 1977 and a rare-as-hen’s-teeth Glenugie 1978.
We could go on, but you’ve probably got the message by now – this is yet another treasure trove of an auction, with fantastic single malts from the golden age. Time to get bidding!