June 2017 Auction Results
Looking over the impressive results from our latest auction it is tempting to jump upon the prices paid for the two casks of Macallan and gawp at their respective £55,900 and £52,600 hammer prices. However, while undoubtedly impressive this is pretty much bang on market value for casks of Macallan these days. It says a lot about just how far things have come in whisky and the perceived value there is in bonded stock as well as bottled whiskies these days. If we’d had these casks only a few years ago the prices would have been a fraction of what they were last night. So, if you’ve got any casks sitting around in bond – not all will fetch Macallan prices of course – you might be surprised at what you’d get for it at auction.
Anyway, on with the bottles. Once again Macallan dominated the top end of the auction with the 1938 Fine & Rare fetching an impressive £18,600 and the 1948 51-year-old £12,900 – record prices for both bottles and further proof, as if it were needed, of Macallan’s dominance at auction. However, Bowmore and certain other older Islay whiskies are creeping up behind. The two Black Bowmores in this sale – a 1st release and a 75cl 3rd release for the US market – fetched £8400 and £7600 respectively. Not records but strong and consistent prices. Another impressive result for an Islay whisky was the Laphroaig 1966 12-year-old Cadenhead Dumpy at £2800, it seems any 60s Laphroaig will soon be unobtainable for less than the £2000 mark.
Other strong performers were, unsurprisingly, the Brora 1972 Rare Malts 61.1% at £7100, and another Rare Malts bottling, the Clynelish 1972 58.95% variant at an impressive £2200. I suspect it won’t be too long before a 72 Brora cracks the five-figure mark, and in another five years who knows how far the likes of the Clynelish might follow it.
The rest of the upper end of the sale was largely dominated by consistent and high prices for Macallans and Japanese Whiskies. One of the more interesting results was the Berry Brothers 1961 – 1973 Single Malt. Those that know this whisky know it is Bowmore inside, however before this was widely known this bottling could often be picked up for less than £180. How powerful a little knowledge can be in the whisky world as evidenced by this one selling for £1550.
Other impressive results which showed upward movement for certain bottlings were the Macallan Exceptional Cask series cask 9780 hitting £1200 – this series really seems to be on the march at the moment – and the Balvenie Rose also hitting £1200. Balvenie collectors seem to be a force to be reckoned with.
Moving down the scale further it was interesting to see bottlings such as the Balblair 1966 38-year-old and the Glen Elgin 15-year-old Manager’s Dram hitting £700 and £600 respectively. Terrific whiskies starting to attract more serious attention. The same can be said for the Mortlach 1972 22-year-old Rare Malts at £575 and the Balblair 1969 31-year-old Highland Selection series at £525. It’s nice to see Balblair getting a bit more attention as a whisky these days.
There were, what seem to me at any rate, a couple of bargains around this bit of the sale. A historic Johnnie Walker bottling of Australian Rum from the 1940s in near pristine condition seems like something of a bargain at £575. As does the 1950s Unblended Glenlivet at £400. But it’s little things like this that keep auctions interesting for buyers, as well as sellers and they, are important, especially in today’s market which is very much a seller’s market.
The Glen Old 30-year-old Special Releases hit £300, this incredible bottling seems to be finally gaining a bit more, long overdue attention at auction. The rest of this end of the sale was very much again a story of consistency with a few bargains thrown in, some Manager’s Drams, in particular, older ones such as the Cardhu and the Cragganmore, going for somewhat more ‘drinkable’ prices. Looking through the £100-250 range what also stands out is just how much the old official single malt bottlings from the 1970s and 1980s are fetching these days. Bottlings which not so long ago could be picked up quite comfortably for less than £100 are now fetching well over this price level. The common factor? They’re all examples of great, old style whisky. Let’s not forget how much the quality and desirability of the liquid itself is still driving these prices.
So, all in all, another impressive and consistent auction where rarity and quality of liquid still continue to drive prices skyward at both ends of the price spectrum. As we pass the halfway point in the year prices show no sign of flagging so it will be interesting to see how thing develop over the following six months. Until next time…