After the Macallan bonanza which was last month’s sale, it was good to see the upper end of our latest auction populated by a wider variety of rarities and legendary bottlings. Certainly, legendary, is a word that applies to the front-runner: the Dalmore 50-year-old which finished up at a whopping £18,600, closely followed by the Candela 50-year-old at £17,700. Releases like this go to show that Dalmore is still a hot contender at auction when the right bottlings come into play.
The official Glenfiddich 50-year-old rounded out the triumvirate of 50-year-old official releases with a hammer price of £13,200. Another bottle that could be scooped up for well under half that price not so long ago. Interestingly the official 1937 50-year-old Balvenie finished at £7300 some way beneath it, given this bottle had a rather significant loss of level it goes to show the importance of condition, storage history and filling level for these kinds of top end bottles.
The Springbank Millennium set is yet another of these releases which could be swiped for £4000-5000 until relatively recently. This latest set achieved £11,800 which goes to show just how much the market is waking up to the remarkable nature of many of these older official releases from years gone by. Speaking of waking up, the Brora 40 year old hit £8700 which is some way above its original retail price. This one is almost certainly set to climb towards the five figure mark now that it is totally sold out in travel retail.
Elsewhere in the top end of the sale, we saw the Laphroaig 1960 holding steady at £5200. Various Macallans all performing solidly at their new trading level, which for anything from the 1960s and earlier now seems to be at least £2000+. £1750 and £1600 secured a pair of very scarce 1937 Rosebank’s by Robert Stewart & Son, a price which almost seems a bit cheap when you think about just how historic and unique that liquid is. For those that say there are never any ‘bargains’ in the upper ends of a sale I would point them to these kinds of bottlings.
Perhaps one of the most impressive and telling results was the SMWS 1965 Glen Grant 32-year-old 9.24 which achieved £1550. This sort of bottling would normally have fetched around £300-400 until very recently. This price is a striking example of just how much interest there is – not only in older sherry cask single malts – but in older SMWS bottlings as well. It’s an upward trend we see time and again with older SMWS bottlings of all ages and distilleries.
Some other notable upper-end results were the Glen Garioch 1972 for Oddbins at £1300, the Laphroaig 1976 for £1100 and the Strathisla Gordon & MacPhail 1954 – 2003 for £1050. These old G&M bottlings are slowly but surely climbing ever upwards as stocks of these incredible whiskies dwindle and appreciation of just how special these bottlings were gradually solidifies. Gone are the days when they could be scooped up for £100. The same effect can be seen in the Glenlivet 1955-2001 for £800 and the Glen Grant 1952 – 1996 for £925.
Similar to, but not quite as extreme as, the SMWS Glen Grant 1965 was the Glenfarclas 1966 1.100 bottling which finished up on £800. Another sturdy result that further illustrates the serious desire there is for these old, blue-chip SMWS releases. Another series which has seen a notable increase in value in recent moths is the old Midleton releases, the 1984 hit a solid £725 showing desire is still strong for these earlier editions in the series.
The 2011 Lagavulin Jazz festival bottling shows that it is still very much the king of this series with a hammer price of £525. Unsurprising given how much scarcer this edition is. The Laphroaig 7-year-old Dr Jekyll was also impressive with a hammer price of £490 while the Octomore 1.1 edition also showed well finishing up at £490.
Further down the sale the SMWS rise is further evidenced by a 1991 13-year-old Laphroaig, 29.40, hitting what looks like a remarkable £230 for a 13-year-old single cask Laphroaig. It will be interesting if these sorts of prices can be sustained for these sorts of bottlings. With further SMWS bottlings such as a 1989 15-year-old Springbank, a 1978 19-year-old Glenlossie and a 1979 18-year-old Glenburgie all hitting £205, it would seem like these prices are here to stay for a while.
Once again looking around for bargains in this sale is tough. A 1979 Springbank for Quaich Society at £140 looks like a very drinkable price. As does a 12-year-old ceramic Springbank for £110. An early 1990s pre-Royal Warrant Laphroaig 10 for £87.50 is still terrific value drinking whisky considering the quality of the liquid and, if you’re a port drinker, the Ferreira 1963 for £77.50 goes to show that whisky auctions are often very good for wine lovers to find tasty obscurities.