Another raft of impressive prices were realised in our latest auction. The top item was, as expected, the cask of 1989 Macallan which fetched £90,100 – slightly higher than recent similar Macallan casks suggesting they may well be on the rise again as appetite remains undimmed. Perhaps more tellingly was the full set of Millennium Springbanks which hit £21,100, a record for this set by some distance. Given the way, prices have been going for older Springbanks recently this is hardly surprising. Hard to believe you could pick up a complete set for under £6000 a couple of years ago.
A second edition Black Bowmore was similarly impressive at £13,100. Although, given the track record of this series in recent times, these kinds of results are no longer that surprising. Neither was the £8400 paid for the Sherriff’s Bowmore 8-year-old pear-shaped. A stunning whisky of legendary repute which explains the serious prices people are clearly willing to pay for such a whisky. These kinds of bottles will likely never be cheaper again given their scarcity.
In fact, the whole upper end of the auction was a string of examples of these kinds of serious yet unsurprising prices for remarkable bottles. The UK version of the famed Samaroli Springbank 12-year-old at £10,100 is another perfect example. As is the Jura 1964 Cadenhead Dumpy for £3300. It seems these days that any bottle of seriously perceived whisky that rarely sees the secondary market is bound to fetch a hefty four-figure sum minimum. With many increasingly entering the five-figure range – some jumping there with rather staggering speed in recent months.
Of course, it isn’t only malts that impress. Famous blended brands such as the Islay Mist also do exceptionally well whenever they turn up – the 1950s bottling at £3600 being a particularly rare and pristine example. Given the repute of these whiskies, I’d almost say this price was on the soft side but it’s probably best not to start getting into the mindset of £3600 for a bottle of whisky being cheap.
The Macallans were all as you might expect price wise, as was the 1970s Laphroaig 10-year-old at £2150. Perhaps more interesting was the Ardbeg Provenance at £2250. It has taken a slow and winding time for the Provenances to reach this price point and they do seem slightly out of kilter with the more expensive sibling Ardbeg bottlings from the late 1990s. Given the quality of the Provenance whiskies, I wonder if they aren’t going to jump up another level in price within the next six months or so?
One of the most beautiful bottles in the sale was no doubt the Old Pulteney bottled by Cadenhead in the 1960s at 85 proof. A stunning and rarely seen whisky, this one is one of a few of this bottling that have found their way to market over the past year or so which explains it’s slightly softer £1800 result. However, this is still an impressive price which demonstrates the demand for older bottlings from the famous bottlers such as Cadenhead. Especially unusual ones such as this Pulteney.
The Lagavulin Syndicate 38-year-olds are all holding well at £1550. Once the initial supply of these bottles to the market has dried up I suspect the price of this one will start to climb fairly significantly. Something of a surprise at the same price tag was the Littlemill 1964 32-year-old distillery bottling from the 1990s. No doubt the recent uptick in interest for Littlemill and other closed distilleries, in general, helped this one along its way.
Demand for older Gordon & MacPhail bottlings also appears to remain undimmed with the Talisker 1967 100 Proof and the Highland Park St Magnus fetching £1550 and £1500 respectively. These are hefty prices, but given the great filling levels, general condition of the bottles and stunning reputations of the whiskies, these seem like fair prices for these whiskies in today’s market. If you can afford to bid at these price levels I think these are no-brainer bottles to go for.
Other notable results around the £1000 mark were the 1966 Macallan Speymalt by Gordon & MacPhail at £1300. A strong result for this bottling and maybe a sign of higher interest in Speymalt series – an inevitability given their repute, content and the price of similarly aged official Macallans.
There was the Laphroaig 1968 Hart Brothers at £1250, the Ardbeg 1974 Signatory at £1300 and the Springbank 1979 Cadenhead white label at £1150. All of which were strong results for these particular bottlings.
Going down through the middle of the sale stand out results include the Signatory 1974 Bowmore at £825, the Glendronach 1960 23-year-old Connoisseur’s Choice at £825 and the Glen Garioch 1970 27-year-old single cask for £825. All of which are something of a climb on recent results for these bottlings.
The Lagavulin 1984 – 1995 SMWS 111.3 bottling at £800 also demonstrates just how powerful the combination of a big name distillery and a rarely seen SMWS bottle number can be. A similar whisky of that age and vintage from another bottler wouldn’t have climbed that high. Just as a 1960s bottle of Jameson Crested Ten Irish Whiskey at £725 demonstrated that demand for older Irish Whiskeys is starting to increase significantly. No doubt the surge of excellent older bottlings on the market, coupled with increased global interest and many new distilleries starting up is fuelling new collector interest.
Even in today’s market Macallan can continue to surprise. A pair of standard 1990’s 10-year-olds at £575 apiece seems eye-wateringly daft. Especially when there’s a Highland Park 1973 SMWS 4.87 just beneath it for £525.
All in all, this was a strong sale with a wide spread of excellent bottles – quite a few of them scarcely seen in today’s secondary market. As a result, prices were pretty high across the board. Even for bottlings, you might not think much of on the face of it. For example, a 1978 21-year-old Glenlossie at £310 seems pretty steep. But this just demonstrates the breadth of the buying audience that exists around the world for good old malt whiskies these days. It doesn’t look as if things are going to change anytime soon. Until next time.
As you know at Malt Marketing we always like to keep you updated with news and all that’s happening in the world of premium whisky and if ever the term ‘premium’ was to be applied to any whisky, The Macallan would probably be first inline to be bestowed with such a title. With the recent opening of their new multi-million pound distillery and visitor centre, there is always something exciting happening in the world of Macallan. Below we share a clip from their recent Macallan Distillery light show held in celebration of this grand opening.
Earlier in August, Whisky-Online concluded their July auction recording some notable hammer prices in the process. With more and more investors and collectors turning to the secondary whisky market to buy and sell, auctions such as Whisky-Online provide the perfect platform for buyers and sellers to interact. Below Whisky-Online share some of the results from their recent July auction.
The last time we sold a Dalmore 50-year-old was in May 2017 when it fetched an impressive £18,600. Fifteen months later, last night, bottle number one finished up at £28,000 on the nose. At one time such a result would have been pretty staggering but it says a lot about the nature of today’s secondary market that these kinds of serious five-figure sums have become almost ubiquitous. Still, this is an impressive result no doubt and shows that whiskies of genuine and deserved legend such as the Dalmore 50 are going nowhere but up. There is in fact almost an argument that it always makes sense to buy them if you can because they will only ever be more expensive. Say this same whisky turns up again in five months time. Would it make sense to buy it for, say, £38,000 – 45,000? I would argue that it would because the year or two after you can most likely sell it for £60,000. It’s just a matter of cash flow really. Which brings us back to the reality that, at this level, whisky is very much a commodity and a rich person’s game.
Once again Macallan displayed impressive strength and consistency at the top level of the sale. £20,000 on the nose for the 1946 Fine & Rare, £4000 for the 1958 Anniversary Malt and – somewhat bewilderingly – £3600 for the Diamond Jubilee. This is the thing about Macallan, you can understand it when the whisky in question is of the stunning, old style sherried variety, it’s somewhat more bizarre when it is, essentially, a contemporary NAS single malt. Such is the power of the name.
In fact, save for two bottles, one of which was the Dalmore 50, Macallan dominated the entire top end of the sale all the way down to a Springbank 1964 Cadenhead 34-year-old at a healthy, and somewhat unsurprising, £2500. In between all that one of the most interesting, and telling, high results were for John Scott’s 1965 35-year-old Highland Park which finished up at £3300. I remember buying the 42-year-old in this series in London in 2008 for £180 and subsequently drinking it. Given the quality of the whisky in these John Scott Highland Park bottlings, it seems retrospectively obvious that they would end up at such prices.
It was good to see the Glenfarclas 105 40-year-old back, hitting a healthy £2150 after a reasonable period of absence. Similarly, the Mortlach 1936 45-year-old and MacPhail’s 1938 45-year-old both did well at £1950 and £1900 respectively.
Springbank 12-year-old 100 proof bottlings from the 1990s have sat around the £1000 mark for quite some time now, so it was interesting to see one last night finish up at £1850 – exactly the same as the 22-year-old Cadenhead dumpy Springbank. This looks like it could well represent a bump up to a new trading level for this bottle, something not underserved considering what a legendary whisky it is.
The Lagavulin Syndicate 38-year-old appears to be holding strong at £1600. Another of quite a few Springbanks in this sale, the 1969 Signatory 28-year-old, performed well at £1150. Similarly, independent Macallans are increasingly chasing their official siblings up the auction levels with three Douglas Laing 30-year-old single casks fetching £1100 and £1050 respectively.
The Ardbeg Mor 1st edition was back on strong form at £900. And the long-awaited inaugural bottling of Daftmill single malt looks like a strong future classic, trading as it is already at £625. The Ardbeg 1975 and 1977 official vintage releases at £600 and £575 respectively showed good solid growth for these old classic bottlings.
Other strong results were a 1947 White Horse for £490, although for the historic nature of this liquid this also still seems like a good price for a drinker as well. The Cragganmore 17-year-old Manager’s Dram and the Glen Elgin 16 Manager’s Dram both did well at £450 and £525 respectively. This whole series is on the upward move so it’s nice to see these two slightly underrated examples getting the attention they deserve.
Similarly, Glen Ord, another seriously underrated distillery, saw one of the best examples ever bottled fetch an impressive £410. Although, if you ask me, this still represents good value for the liquid. Old Balblairs are another area where plenty of examples were arguably too cheap for too long, it seems this is changing as well. The 1974 ‘Highland Selection’ Balblair fetched a solid £390.
Although, at the same price levels one of the bargains of the sale was the Strathisla 35-year-old Bicentenary for £390. Given this is known to be a 1947 Strathisla it’s a terrific price for a drinker. Similarly, the Ardbeg 1974 23 year old by Signatory for £360 was also something of a steal.
Looking further down the sale there is the usual mix of solid consistency, some bewildering results – I still don’t get why people are paying £280 for a litre of 1990s Scapa 10-year-old – and a tiny smattering of bargains. A Glenlochy 1980 27 year old by Part Des Anges looks good at £270 and a rare Laphroaig 10-year-old bottled for Japan around 1990 also looks good at £245.
Largely though, scrolling from around the £300 – £80 level of the sale, you’re mostly reminded of just how much has changed on the secondary market over the past two years. Bottles like litres of old 15-year-old Glendronach. The kind of thing you used to be able to pick up for £40-60 for so long, now trading at £130. While at the same time you can still get bottles like Tormore 1983 28 year old by the SMWS for £135. It’s a funny old whisky world. Thankfully it’s still also a lot of fun!
The Macallan Reflexion Decanter (43% ABV, £900) is a reflection of the foremost influence of first fill sherry seasoned oak casks, drawing its colour and flavour from maturation in hogshead casks. These are smaller casks which allow for greater surface area of wood to interact with the spirit to deliver an intricate character driven by the influence of both Spanish and American oak casks.
Sculpted through the inspiration of The Macallan’s iconic triangular shape, Reflexion is a masterpiece both in style and stature. Its exquisite angular facets each reflect the light to showcase the deep red mahogany hue of the whisky within.
The depth of the colour and the complexity of flavour of Reflexion derive from the casks selected for this distinctive expression by the Master Whisky Maker. Bold and full-bodied, Reflexion is a celebration of floral and vanilla notes, punctuated with fresh apples and apricots.
Reflexion – 43% ABV
Orange and citrus fruits open up like fresh fruit on a sunny market day, their zest is fresh, the fruit is firm. A slight waxy note fades to fresh green apples. Then the sweet stall: chocolate, thick fudge, boiled sweets, aniseed; caramel toffees almost overwhelm whilst white chocolate truffles are hidden. Just as you are ready to taste, a delivery of bananas in fresh, sweet oak arrives.
Initial light citrus zest with new oak quickly gives way to a juicier sweetness, thick and succulent, of lemon and orange. Raisin, sultana and apple, with a hint of cinnamon and ginger, are subtle. Boiled sweets add balance to a glimpse of toasted oak to give a medium and soft finish.
With the seemingly insatiable appetite for aged stock of single malt these days, prices of mature bonded stock have risen considerably – especially for those blue chip distilleries and names everyone wants. Those lucky or smart enough to buy some casks in the 1990s or earlier when they were – by today’s standards – astonishingly cheap (one day I’ll tell you the story about the 1965 hogshead of Lagavulin that someone thought was too expensive at £250 in 1990) are now reaping hitherto unimagined rewards.
Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the price now paid for privately owned casks of Macallan. Most are traded privately by brokers, bottlers and individuals for reportedly serious sums in the upper end of the five figure range. So, it’s rare that one, let alone two, mature casks of Macallan make it into a single auction. Auctioning casks is not something we’ve gone out of our way to do here at Whisky Online, but it’s always exciting when one turns up. So, needless to say, we were pretty thrilled to have a pair of 1993 Macallan hogsheads.
However, there’s always an element of risk involved in buying these kinds of casks if you aren’t able to check the liquid yourself. So, with this in mind, we thought we’d offer some tasting notes from the samples drawn at the time of the casks most recent gauging in April 2017 and sent to us by the vendor.
Macallan 1993. Cask 4130. Hogshead. 55.6%.
Nose: It’s a fresh and pretty classical, ‘naked’ style Macallan. Biscuit, varnished wood, a plush assortment of green fruits and even something tropical like a little passionfruit. Plenty typical notes of cereals, muesli – it’s quite savoury in fact – and a little green fruit compote. With water: becomes more mineral and gravelly. Notes of paprika and freshly ground white pepper. Again more very elegant tropical fruit notes linger in the back. Quite an intriguing nose for a Macallan – but the natural weight and heft of the distillate shines through well.
Palate: A little hot on delivery but gives way nicely to tobacco leaf, gingerbread and muscovado sugar. Also some nice leathery notes follow along with a pleasant leafiness. I suspect this is a refill sherry hogshead. It’s also quite diverse from the nose but in a pleasantly surprising way, the sherry components were not so evident on the nose. With water: more spicy with water along with added notes of treacle, plum wine and a little camphor as well. Again quite sturdy, classical Macallan.
Finish: Good length. Medium sweetness from the residual sherry influence along with some nutty and earthy notes which lift the whole thing nicely. Good balance between sweet and savoury throughout.
Comments: This is a quality Macallan. In my opinion, it would benefit from approximately another 5 years ageing. Although it is already of good character with some lovely idiosyncrasies such as these wee tropical touches on the nose and the more sherry-driven palate.
Macallan 1993. Cask 4131. Refill sherry hogshead. 53.3%.
Nose: Pow! Now this is Macallan! Beautifully resinous, mineral and nervous sherry. Ridden with nuts, wet earth, wax jackets, dundee cake, treacle and various dark fruit compotes. A wonderful throwback to style of Macallan that’s long disappeared from most contemporary bottlings. It feels like you could be nosing an old Anniversary Malt from the early 2000s. Goes on with some green fruit, black pepper, a little graphite perhaps – some dried mushrooms. With water: broader and more earthy with a beautiful and gentle streak of something medicinal like gentian. Some green peppercorns, aged pinot noir and furniture oil. Quite complex and compelling.
Palate: A wonderful continuation of the nose. Many dark fruits: dates, fig jam, damsons, sultanas and raisins stewed in cognac. Pepper, black tea, molasses, a touch of old rum and some old Vin Juane wine and walnut oil. Many classical flavours such as aged Balsamico and rancio all make appearances as well. With water: again its earthier and drier. The sherry is a little more ‘free and easy’ not quite as taught and nervous as to begin with. More notes of various red and dark fruit jams, some coal hearth notes and more chewy walnut notes.
Finish: Long, earthy, nicely drying, herbal and with resurgent notes of old balsamico, camphor and a little rancio.
Comments: An excellent and truly classical Macallan in the way the sherry and distillate integrate beautifully and with great deft and balance. This one you could bottle straight away or leave for perhaps another 2-3 years. But my feeling is that this one is really approaching its zenith.
Auction Ends Wednesday 5th July from 8 pm.
Any further queries please do not hesitate to ask.
Call: 01253 620 376 | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00 | Email: auctions@whisky-online.
Are you of legal drinking age in the country where you reside?
© Copyright Malt Marketing