Time for a quick run-through of this month’s whisky auction highlights! There’s some amazing stuff from Macallan, Rosebank, Ardbeg and many more, so we’d best get cracking.
Some truly splendid Macallans in this month’s auction, with recent and relatively recent releases including several of this year’s Macallan Harmony Collection Fine Cacao, plus 2021’s Macallan Distil Your World – New York, a small batch made in collaboration with swish NY bistro El Celler De Can Roca and bottled at a bracing 49.5%. There’s also the discontinued Macallan Ruby, the 2012 edition of the Macallan Chairman’s Release (a rare prestige bottling for the China export market that’s seldom seen in the UK), a full set of the Macallan Travel Releases, and 2019’s Macallan Concept 2.
Other recent Macallans include the 2020 edition of Macallan Easter Elchies Black, plus 2018’s Macallan Genesis and the Macallan Coronation set released in 2013 featuring the artwork of Cecil Beaton and Julian Caulder – and while we’re talking about Macallan’s many artistic collaborations, this month also sees the return of Macallan X Sir Peter Blake.
Classic old Macallan releases in this month’s whisky auction include Macallan 1963 and Macallan 1965 25-Year-Old Anniversary Malts, the blue wooden box Macallan 30-Year-Old from the turn of the millennium (and its 2019 Macallan 30-Year-Old successor) and, even better, a pair of bottles of Macallan 1962, a classic chestnut-coloured Macallan bottled under licence in the 1970s by Campbell Hope & King – this is the wonderful 80-proof (46%) version that really sets hearts aflutter.
We have some superb indie Macallans this month too, including Gordon & MacPhail’s magnificent Macallan Speymalt 1950-2006 Cask 1681, a 55-year-old single refill sherry butt, plus the highly sought-after Macallan As We Get It 102 Proof and several great SMWS bottlings, the pick of which are probably Macallan 1990 18-Year-Old SMWS 24.104, a first fill sherry butt bottled in 2009, and Macallan 1973 33-Year-Old SMWS 24.93, an unspecified cask bottled in 2006 with the surprisingly restrained SMWS title After Dark…
The absolute highlight of this month’s Macallan, though, is the amazing Macallan 1946 52-Year-Old, a whisky of jaw-dropping majesty and complexity with an unusually potent thread of smoky flavour running through it. This was a highpoint in Macallan’s history on release in 1999 and its reputation has only grown in the intervening years.
As ever, this is just a tiny sample of the Macallans in this month’s whisky sale – you can browse all of this month’s Macallan bottlings here.
Some tremendous stuff from the magic isle this month! Beginning alphabetically with Ardbeg, we’ve got the welcome return of old favourites Ardbeg 17-Year-Old and Ardbeg 1978-1998, plus the latest of the distillery’s annual releases, Ardbeg Ardcore Committe Release, made with roasted black malt, and another belter from the fantastic selection of SMWS bottles in this month’s auction, Ardbeg 1977-1993 SMWS 33.18.
Best of all, though, is the return of Ardbeg 1974 Provenance First Edition, a truly stunning whisky that many aficionados would name as their favourite ever bottling from the distillery. Check out all this month’s Ardbeg here.
Staying on the southside, there’s some top class Lagavulin and Laphroaig in this month’s whisky auction, with notable Lagavulins including Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2015, Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1990 and The Syndicate’s Lagavulin 1979 38-Year-Old.
Laphroaig fans, meanwhile, are spoilt for choice, with a couple of early bottles of the classic Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Original Cask Strength and the still-underrated 1990s Laphroaig 15-Year-Old alongside the returning The Syndicate’s Laphroaig 1988 32-Year-Old, Hart Bros’ beautifully elegant Laphroaig 1968 26-Year-Old and some very tempting SMWS bottles including Laphroaig 1989 18-Year-Old SMWS 29.72 (subtitled Not Pink & Fluffy) from this month’s big SMWS stash.
Highlights from further north include a nice old bottle of Bowmore Darkest and the first edition of Bowmore Legend St Ives from 1994, plus gems from Bruichladdich including Bruichladdich 1988 30-Year-Old Rare Casks and the first edition of Bruichladdich 3D – The Peat Proposal, a dram that malt fans of a certain age will remember fondly as their first inkling of the smoky delights to come from the distillery.
Miscellaneous Islay drams in this month’s whisky auction include the rare white cap Caol Ila 15-year-Old Flora & Fauna, another bottle of the always welcome Bunnahabhain 1968 Family Silver and a cheeky Port Ellen 1983 23-Year-Old bottled by Douglas Laing for their McGibbon’s Provenance series back in 2006.
Beginning with the usual suspects, there’s several lovely Glendronachs including the splendid Glendronach 12-Year-Old Sherry Casks from the turn of the 1990s alongside more recent gems like Glendronach 1993 25-Year-Old Master Vintage and Glendronach Grandeur Batch 8. There’s also a slew of single cask 1990s vintage Glendronachs – check out all this month’s Glendronach here.
Other top class sherried malts include Strathisla 15-Year-Old 100 Proof bottled by Gordon & MacPhail in the 1980s, the Glen Elgin 15-Year-Old Managers Dram released in 1988 and the more recent Glenallachie 1978-2018 50th Anniversary. Glenfarclas fans, meanwhile, will be tracking the Glenfarclas 2002-2017 Family Casks and the magnificent Probably Speyside’s Finest 1968-2009 40-Year-Old bottled by Douglas Laing for the Old Malt Casks.
There’s also some great sherried Springbank in this month’s sale. Highlights include the Springbank 2000 16-Year-Old Single Cask, bottled in 2016 from a fresh sherry butt, plus the slightly lighter, dirtier 2015 release of Springbank Green 13-Year-Old and the Springbank 1997 17-Year-Old Sherry Wood, a combination of fresh and refill sherry casks. All fine drams, but the pick of the litter is this Murray McDavid Springbank 1965 34-Year-Old from back in 1999.
Rare old sherried drams in this month’s whisky sale include the remarkable Ben Nevis 1966 40-Year-Old bottled in 2000 for Whisky Shop’s Glenkeir Treasures series, another ridiculously rare SMWS gem, Rosebank 1977-1991 SMWS 25.4, and the stunning Glenmorangie 1971 Culloden released in 1996 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Battle of Culloden in 1746 that finished the Jacobite rebellion. This Glenmorangie shows strong Oloroso sherry notes in its dizzyingly complex palate and is widely known as one of the distillery’s greatest ever releases. For connoisseurs of whisky aesthetics, Glenmorangie Culloden is also one of the best presented whiskies you’ll ever find.
Finally, we come to the fascinating Dolamore Very Rare Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky. We should explain that this bottle has nothing to do with Dalmore for anyone who read that too fast – Dolamore was a wine merchant with branches in London and Cambridge, and this is a sherry-matured whisky they bottled around the 1950s with a wonderfully understated label.
As you’ll have noticed, there’s a strong Scotch Malt Whisky Society presence in this month’s auction, which is always great news. In fact, there’s nearly sixty tremendous SMWS drams in this month’s whisky sale, with a connoisseur’s selection of top class drams from classic, rare and lost distilleries bottled between from the early 1990s right up to the present day.
Several of the highlights from this collection have already appeared above, but there’s plenty more to point out. SMWS bottlings from lost distilleries include the Glen Albyn 1979 25-Year-Old SMWS 69.10 bottled at an impressive 58.7% in 2005 and the Glencraig 1974 32-Year-Old SMWS 104.7 made on the Lomond stills at Glenburgie that were decommissioned in 1981.
The most exciting lost distillery SMWS bottling in this month’s auction, though, is this Lochside 1966 SMWS 92.4 bottled in 1991 at a remarkable 61.3% – always great to see a 1960s vintage SMWS, and even better when it’s a nice low bottling number. The SMWS bottled several superb 1966 Lochsides, so we’re expecting plenty of interest for this.
Further show-stoppers from this outstanding selection of SMWS whiskies include the Springbank 1965-1992 SMWS 27.21, one of a series of utterly stunning 1965 Springbanks bottled at the beginning of the 1990s, plus the marvellous refill bourbon hogshead Glenfarclas 1966 41-Year-Old SMWS 1.141, and a pair of early SMWS Japanese malts, Yoichi 1987-2006 18-Year-Old SMWS 116.10 and Yoichi 1985-2008 SMWS 116.13. Anyone who’s been lucky enough to taste 1980s Yoichi knows how special these are, and the 1987 vintage in particular seems to have been an annus mirabilis for the distillery.
This is just a small selection, of course – for the full list of the SMWS delights in this month’s sale, click here.
Favourites and Curios
Returning favourites aplenty this month, with some legendary drams rubbing shoulders with underrated minor classics and obscure treasures from days gone by.
Lots that caught our eye include a pair of amazing Glenlivets: the Glenlivet 1963 21-Year-Old For the Chairman bottled in 1984 and, from an earlier era, this incredible Smith’s Glenlivet 1943 bottled by the venerable gents at Berry Bros & Rudd in 1960 and in excellent condition considering the bottle is over 60 years old.
There’s also the classic Talisker 25-Year-Old from 2007’s Special Releases, Ian MacLeod’s celebratory Rosebank 1990 30-year-Old First Release and a remarkable Signatory Ben Nevis 1963-1996 33-Year-Old Single Grain, one of the drams that demonstrated Andrew Symington’s extraordinary ability to get ahead of the curve and his genius as a cask selector.
Elsewhere, there’s also the small matter of the legendary Highland Park 1967-1991, accompanied by one of the most exciting Highland Parks we’ve seen for a long time: Highland Park St. Magnus Pot Still Pure Malt 100-Proof, bottled in the early 1970s. These exquisitely retro St. Magnus labels are a holy grail for collectors and drinkers alike, as the bottle is beautiful and the juice is out of this world, while the 57.1% strength is just the cherry on top. Bidding will be fierce for this one.
Top quality old favourites this month include the delicious 1970s Clynelish 12-Year-Old, the elegant, indulgent Balvenie 30-Year-Old, the cherry-tinged Glenmorangie 1975-2003 Tain L’Hermitage and the seriously underrated Glenlivet 1983-2003 Cellar Collection French Oak Finish.
Before we finish, there’s just time for a few old curios, such as this flagon of Littlemill 1950 30-Year-Old bottled in 1981, which became a highly desirable collector’s item after a great review and 93 point score from Whiskyfun a few years ago, and a bottle of Loch Lomond’s endearingly strange and very rarely bottled Rhosdhu spirit, Rhosdhu 1979 26-Year-Old by First Cask.
Fans of old blended whiskies, meanwhile, should keep an eye out for the pre-war Black & White Bottled 1939 and a nice 1980s bottle of Johnnie Walker Swing, while rum-lovers will be eyeing up this ancient Costa Fine Old Jamaica Dark Rum, bottled in Spain most likely sometime in the 1930s.
That’s it for this month – check out the full auction here, Good Luck and Happy Bidding!
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