Welcome to our November Whisky Auction Highlights! There are some outstanding lots in this month’s sale, with some very old and incredibly rare bottles up for grabs from the likes of Ardbeg, Macallan, Ardmore, Clynelish and an official Benmore Distilleries bottling of Dallas Dhu (!), so we’d better crack on.
Wonderful Old Macallan
There’s some fabulous Macallan in this month’s sale. Recent bottlings including Macallan Folio Archival Series 2, Macallan Harmony Collection and Macallan 1991-2003 Elegancia, but the real action this month is with older bottlings from yesteryear. Highlights include Macallan 1962 25-Year-Old Anniversary Malt, Macallan 1964 25-Year-Old Anniversary Malt, Macallan 1966 18-Year-Old, Macallan 1968 25-Year-Old Anniversary Malt, Macallan 1972 18-Year-Old, Macallan 1975 25-Year-Old Anniversary Malt, Macallan 1984 18-Year-Old, a full case of the gorgeous 1990s Macallan 12-Year-Old, a 1990-ish Macallan 10-Year-Old 100-Proof, Macallan 1966 Speymalt and, last but not least, a rare gold-capped Macallan Private Eye, purported to have been bottled for sale at Fortnum & Mason.
Historic Diageo / United Distillers Bottles
There’s an extraordinary number of absolutely magnificent bottlings from the archives of the world’s biggest Scotch whisky distillers this month, from both the modern Diageo company and its predecessors United Distillers and DCL’s Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD). Beginning with the oldest bottlings, we have this amazing official bottling of Dallas Dhu – and like last month’s Banff, this is the earliest official bottling we’ve ever seen from this distillery.
This Dallas Dhu Highland Malt was bottled by Benmore Distilleries, a company that DCL bought in 1929. At the time of the DCL acquisition Benmore Distilleries also included the Benmore and Lochhead distilleries in Campbeltown and Lochindaal distillery on Islay, but these three all closed around the time of the DCL takeover.
Benmore Distilleries became part of DCL’s Scottish Malt Distillers subsidiary (SMD), and retained the license for Dallas Dhu until the distillery closed in May 1983. Today the Benmore name is known to most whisky fans only for the Benmore blended Scotch, a long-running historic brand whose last heyday was in overseas markets in the 1960s and 1970s.
This Dallas Dhu Highland Malt was bottled for the Belgian market and has a rotation number dated 1967 on the back label, which is consistent with the Saint-Gobain glassmaker’s mark on the base of the bottle. This is a very significant bottle – as far as we are aware, it’s the earliest official bottling of Dallas Dhu yet found, and the only official bottling we know of that was released during the distillery’s lifetime, making this Dallas Dhu an important missing jigsaw piece from the history of Highland malt whisky.
Remarkably, this Dallas Dhu is not the only 1960s SMD official bottling in this month’s auction: we’ve also got two bottles of wonderful old 1960s Linkwood! These are examples of a very rare Linkwood OB that appeared sporadically from the late 1960s until the late 1970s and it looks like we’ve got two very different batches – the first Linkwood OB is a significantly darker hue than the second Linkwood OB, whose label is much better preserved.
Meanwhile, from the United Distillers-Diageo era there’s tons of great Rare Malts bottlings up for grabs this month, including gems like Hillside (Glenesk) 1969 25-Year-Old, Glenlochy 1969 25-Year-Old, Glenury Royal 1970 29-Year-Old, St. Magdalene 1970 23-Year-Old, Royal Lochnagar 1974 30-Year-Old, Port Ellen 1978 20-Year-Old, Rosebank 1981 22-Year-Old, Brora 1982 20-Year-Old and Banff 1982 21-Year-Old.
Diageo Special Releases this month include 2014’s Rosebank 1992 21-Year-Old and Brora 35-Year-Old, 2011’s Talisker 30-Year-Old and Brora 32-Year-Old and both of the earlier amazing Talisker 20-year-olds: the legendary sherried Talisker 1981 20-Year-Old and the underappreciated bourbon cask Talisker 1982 20-Year-Old. There’s also the small matter of 2002’s second release Port Ellen 1978 24-Year-Old and first release Brora 30-Year-Old, plus 2003’s Glen Ord 28-Year-Old and Brora 30-Year-Old second release.
Finally, we’ve got Manager’s Dram bottlings of Cardhu 15-Year-Old (Bottled 1989) Oban 13-Year-Old (1990), Ord 16-Year-Old (1991) and Cragganmore 17-Year-Old (1992), not to mention a very early Distillers Edition Lagavulin 1980, bottled around 1999.
There’s only one place to start this section: we’ve found a truly superb old Ardmore 16-Year-Old Pure Malt! This 16-year-old Ardmore (like the later, more familiar 15-year-old) is believed to have been bottled from sherry butts around the end of the 1960s for the directors of W.M. Teacher’s, the blend that the distillery was constructed to provide for back in 1898 and still supplies today.
Bottled at 80 UK Proof (around 46%), this dense, dark Ardmore is exceptionally rare and hardly ever shows up at auction; although the label is rather cellar-soiled the level is still extremely good for its age and we are very excited to see it in this month’s sale.
Other top class sherried treasures this month include a really nice 1980s Glenfarclas 25-Year-Old, Signatory’s Miltonduff 1981 17-Year-Old, Hart Bros’ Benromach 1968 27-Year-Old, Glendronach 1972 39-Year-Old, Cadenhead’s Caperdonich 1977 35-Year-Old, the splendid cask strength Glengoyne 1969 Farewell Dram, and this glorious early 1970s Glenfarclas 8-Year-Old.
We’re also super-excited to have the near-mythical Glenfarclas 40-Year-Old Millennium back on our auction for the first time in a while – this is the Red Fox from ‘Kidnapped’ label, one of thirty different designs for this legendary bottling, which was assembled from Oloroso sherry casks (hogshead and butt) and limited to just 600 bottles on release in 1999.
Let’s move on to Islay, where we have some tremendous official and independent bottlings of everyone’s favourite smoky delights. We’ll start with Ardbeg, whose highlights include Ardbeg 1974-2006 Cask 4989, a beautiful bourbon cask that would no doubt make a fascinating comparison with Cadenhead’s Ardbeg 1966-1999 32-Year-Old and Douglas Laing’s famous Ardbeg 1972-2001 28-Year-Old. We’ve also got Ardbeg Lord of the Isles and the Ardbeg 21-Year-Old Committee Release, two desert island Ardbegs we could never tire of.
Laphroaig lovers are well-catered for this month, with 2008’s Laphroaig 30-Year-Old Cairdeas, a sadly diminished 1960s clear glass Laphroaig Old Liqueur Scotch, the much-loved green stripe Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Original Cask Strength and red stripe Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Original Cask Strength.
Perhaps best of all for Laphroggies, though, is this absolutely stunning 1950s Islay Mist. The famous Laphroaig-based blend is collected almost as avidly as Laphroaig itself; this is the oldest Islay Mist we’ve had and we’re delighted it’s in such superb condition for its age. Bottled at 25 under proof (43%) this incredible Islay Mist will likely also contain some old Speyside malts – Glenlivet and Glen Grant were often used in the recipe. We’re already very jealous of the lucky soul who ends up with this one.
Miscellaneous noteworthy Islays this month include Bowmore 20-Year-Old David Simson and the iconic Bowmore 30-Year-Old Sea Dragon, The Syndicate’s Lagavulin 1979 40-Year-Old and Caol Ila 1990 26-Year-Old, and a clutch of Port Ellens including the rare Douglas Murdoch Port Ellen 12-Year-Old, G&M’s Cask Strength Port Ellen 1979-1998 and the unprepossessing but excellent Port Ellen 25-Year-Old by Bladnoch Forum.
We’ve got some of the rarest distilleries ever to heat a still in this month’s auction, with a string of lesser-known but highly-sought-after names up for grabs. Highlights from these collectable unicorns include Inver House’s Glen Flagler 1973-2003 and Killyloch 1967-2003, and a pair of Whyte & MacKay’s Ben Wyvis bottlings: 1999’s Ben Wyvis 1972 27-Year-Old which was subtitled Final Resurrection, along with the subsequent bottling when they found an extra cask whose owner hadn’t paid the warehousing fees: Ben Wyvis 1965 37-Year-Old.
There’s a big place in our hearts for Cadenhead’s, one of the true pioneers of independent whisky, so we’re delighted to have some absolute belters from them in this month’s auction. Selected highlights include famous brown dumpy bottlings of Teaninich 1957 22-Year-Old, Dufftown-Glenlivet 1958 21-Year-Old and Glenury Royal 1966 23-Year-Old; the extraordinary white label sherried Clynelish 1972 Cask 5645 and Inchgower 1977 Cask 9791; and Cadenhead Authentic Collection editions of Ben Nevis 1977 16-Year-Old, and a dark sherried Glenugie 1980 12-Year-Old.
Not to be outdone, Gordon & MacPhail also have some breathtaking old bottles in this month’s sale, with a cellar-worn Strathisla 1937 and the remarkable Strathisla 1965-2014, a sumptuously sherried 1970s Glenlivet 15-Year-Old, an equally dark Glen Keith 1967-2003, the cult classic Talisker 1970 100-Proof and Ledaig 1973 15-Year-Old and some proper unicorn malts from lost distilleries. Highlights of the latter include Connoisseurs Choice bottles of Kinclaith 1967-1992, Glenlochy 1974 and the classic Brora 1972-1993, but make sure you check the full auction as there are a lot of other classic old Map Label Connoisseurs Choice bottlings this month.
Duncan Taylor, meanwhile, are represented by this mouthwatering sherried cask strength Glenesk (Hillside) 1983 24-Year-Old and a Bruichladdich 1966 39-Year-Old, while Signatory Vintage have some lovely bottles including Glenugie 1977 32-Year-Old, a young sherried cask strength Highland Park 1989-2000 and, for the grain fans, the venerable Cambus 1964 31-Year-Old.
Last word for this month, however, must go to one of the greatest unsung masterpieces ever bottled – The Whisky Connoisseur bottling of Balmenach Miltonhaugh 1966 28-Year-Old – we’ve written about this magnificent whisky before, and it’s always a genuine pleasure to see it crop up.
That’s it for this month’s whisky auction highlights – Good Luck and Happy Dramming!
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