Last night saw another impressive slew of results and the continuation of the effects of a weak pound as buyers gatecrash the UK auction scene looking to scoop up bargains. The irony being there were very few bargains to be had at all.
First up we find ourselves talking – yet again – about the 1967 Largiemeanoch. After its previous record result here at Whisky Online in June of £8200, I didn’t think this bottle would be likely to appear again so soon. The fact that it jumped to such a dizzying new high of £10,200 and broke the five figure mark for the first time says a lot about just how insanely desirable this whisky has become and about the sheer force of the market these days. What will the next one fetch? Who knows, but this is new territory for these old legendary bottles, suddenly the days when it would sell for £2000-3000 a couple of years back seem a long long time ago. It also makes you wonder what similarly regarded bottles such as the Laphroaig 1967 Samaroli or the Port Ellen London Scottish James MacArthur would fetch were they to turn up again now…
Elsewhere at the top of the sale the Brora 40 year old saw auction for the first time and fetched an impressive £7100. By the time you include commission and VAT that’s some way above its current retail price where you can still find it in some airports. The Royal Brackla 60 year old looks to have settled into a new trading level at £6200 and the Brora 1972 Rare Malts continues to impress with another hefty result at £4900.
The Macallan 1945 Campbell, Hope & King is a bottle that very rarely sees auction these days. It’s the first in what has now become an iconic series by that great, sadly defunct Elgin bottler. So it was good to see it perform impressively with a final hammer price of £4900. The other upper end Macallans all enjoyed strong performances this month with the latter day Anniversary Malts all falling just shy to the £2000 mark – impressive considering how these traded for £700-900 not so long ago.
The Signatory Ardbeg 1967 fetched £1850 further cementing the high desirability of these great old single casks by Signatory. On the flip side of that the Bowmore 1971 OB fetched £1650 showing the continuing strength of the demand for the liquid from these pinnacle era Islay distilleries.
The new Ardbeg 21 year olds all finished up not too far above their initial retail price at £360-400. I suspect the seller’s might view that as a slight disappointment but it is perhaps a sign of market maturity and patience when it comes to these new Ardbeg releases. Despite the obvious heightened desirability of this new age statement release, perhaps buyers are biding their time for the inevitable high supply and slight cooling off that will follow in future auctions.
In the lower to mid-range there were some other solid results. The Old Pulteney 1974 Highland Selection fetched £300 showing that this series is starting to garner some overdue appreciation and the Bowmore 1993 TWE Masterpieces fetched £310. Drinkers have long been aware of just how incredible some of these 1993 Bowmores can be and this seems to suggest the broader market awareness is catching up.
The Macallan As We Get It bottled around 1980 fetched £290, which seems slightly low in comparison to how strongly this series has performed recently. Although that may be due to the fact it is a paler batch and colour is still king with many new buyers it seems. The Glendronach 8 year old Ruffino also seemed like a bit of a bargain at £225 considering the quality of the liquid. On the flip side the Lagavulin 16 year old White Horse 75cl versions from the late 1980s finally seem to be getting the recognition they deserve for just how incredible these bottlings are, one without a box fetched £225 last night. I suspect it won’t be long before these are over £300 every day of the week.
Glancing over the rest of the sale it seems there were few bargains this time, apart from a Longrow 1990 SMWS 114.3 for £87.50 and a few early 1990s Laphroaigs for drinkable prices there don’t seem to be too many anomalies. Much in keeping with last month where prices were strong across the board. It seems with everyone piling in trying to get bargains off the back of a weak pound it means little or no bargains to be found. A seller’s market indeed.