Each month. Malt Marketing like to bring you updates from our clients and after their recent September auction, rare whisky auctioneer Whisky-Online share their results with some notable closing hammer prices fetched.
Last night’s auction finished with a slew of prices at the upper end of the sale that might once have been described as eye-popping. But think what it says about today’s secondary whisky market and how much things have changed in the space of only about 3 years, that we can look at a Macallan 65-year-old Lalique for £41,100, or a Bowmore 1964 Fino for £15,600 and simply take those prices in our stride? How times change…
Also interesting was the 1996 hogshead of Tobermory that fetched £12,700, not in the same league as other bigger named distilleries of similar ages, but this is a serious price for a name like Tobermory. It seems casks are now very much part of the fabric of whisky auctioneering. And, arguably, where the smart money went in recent years.
Most of the bottles at the upper end of this sale were predictably on the high side. Results such as the Bowmore Gold for £12,400 or the Macallan Anniversary Malt 1968 for £3300 were all pretty typical. More telling – and perhaps more interesting – was the Lagavulin SMWS 111.1 selling for £4100. Another of these bottles that shot from sub four figures to this sort of result in a very short space of time. And further evidence of the hunger there is out there, not just for older, sherried Islays or Lagavulin, but for Scotch Malt Whisky Society rarities. Especially low numbers.
Other tasty examples were the Wray & Nephews 1962 25-year-old commemorative rum. The name Wray & Nephew carries some serious clout amongst rum lovers so it wasn’t surprising to see it fetching £2600. Another long undervalued bottling was the Gordon & MacPhail Secret Stills Talisker 1955 which fetched £2350. Again, this bottling was hovering around the £400-600 mark for quite a long time and it is underrated liquid so it’s nice to see it garnering a little more limelight.
The Lagavulin 38-year-old Syndicate bottlings all held strong at £1600 a piece. Exactly the same result as the Dalmore 1981 Matusalem Sherry Finesse bottling. I know which one I’d rather drink, but that just goes to show how varied the secondary market is these days in terms of a buyer profile. And how the effects of that spending is creating multiple bubbles and effects. Speaking of Lagavulin, it was notable that the 1985 Special Releases 21-year-oldhit a muscular £1400, further confirming this bottling is comfortably on its way to the £2000 mark.
In terms of milestones though, perhaps the most notable was the Oban Bicentenary Manager’s Dram. Two bottles of which finished up at £1100, comfortably across the four-figure line. This bottling has been going from strength to strength lately, it will be interesting if it settles down now or continues it’s almost month by month march up the price range.
Laphroaig 1969 Connoisseur’s Choice performed well at £1000 and the Ardbeg Mor 1st release held strong at £950. While other examples of the Manager’s Dram series also continued to perform well, the Clynelish, Aberfeldy and Cardhu bottlings hitting £750, £725 and £675 respectively. While a 1980s 15-year-old Springbankknocked the ball out of the park at £700. These older official standard range Springbanks are good indicator that it is wise to never underestimate Springbank. Even today it’s probably worth putting aside a case of the current 10-year-old every so often. You never know how things will be in 10 – 20 years…
One long underrated bottling it was good to see doing a little better was the Glen Calder 40 year old at £550. Technically a blend, this beautiful old dram really just tastes like a late 1940s single malt. Nice to see it getting a bit more recognition. Impressive in a different way was the Compass Box Hedonism hitting £525. Exactly the same price as the Dunvilles rotation 1948 half bottle. Another juxtaposed pair that illustrates the wildly different spending habits and buyer profiles which are converging to create today’s secondary market.
It’s interesting to see how a large proportion of Port Ellen bottlings are sitting around the £400-500 mark rather consistently these days – especially numerous independent examples from the likes of Douglas Laing. I think these bottles are still worth buying at this price. Sooner or later there will be a market shift upwards to the £600-800 range and not long after that four figures will loom on the horizon. On a 3-5 year investment, these look like good buys. Not to mention if you’re a drinker looking for a slightly more reasonable Port Ellen – most are terrific drams!
Back to the Manager’s Drams and the Talisker 17-year-old landed on £400. Unsurprising as this terrific bottling was never going to sit around the £200 mark forever. In all likelihood, this one will continue to rise steadily for the foreseeable.
In terms of bargains then, once again and rather predictably, there weren’t many. The I W Harper 1946 – 1952 looked interesting for old Bourbon fans at £260. Just as the Johnnie Walker Liqueurlooked totally bewildering at £235 – the contemporary power of a brand name! The Balblair 1986 CASK bottling by Gordon & MacPhail was a good buy at £195, as was the Glenfarclas 1990 Family Cask 9246 at the same hammer price. Both exceptional drams.
Another soon to shift bottling, I suspect, will be all these 1980s Highland Park 12-year-olds in the old screen print dumpy presentation. Most contain wonderful, old school, subtly peaty, sherried Highland Park. They’ve sat, across almost all auctions, around the £160-200 mark for quite some time and represent pretty great drinking value at that price. I suspect it won’t be long before they move into the £250-300 range – then beyond. Might be worth snapping one up before they do. A 1952 – 1977 Hine Cognacalso looks highly quaffable, and something of an anomaly at £140.
Generally though, it was slim pickings for bargain hunters in this sale. As ever the market remains powerful and a weak pound hits UK buyers but helps sellers. The fever of whisky is far from diminishing. Let’s see what next month brings…
Whisky-Online July Auction – Choose from an extensive range of malts, blends and other rare and collectible whiskies available on the secondary whisky market. As well as boasting an impressive online whisky shop, Whisky-Online hold regular online auctions offering bidders the chance to buy many of those harder to find whiskies.
Whether adding to an existing collection, buying a special gift or merely choosing a finer whisky to compliment an upcoming special occasion, buying whisky at auction has become almost as common as buying from a high street or online retailer. In many ways, it is at auctions like these that many surprising expressions come up and while there are many good buys to be had, lets not forget that from a sellers point of view, whisky auctions also present opportunities for many record hammer prices to be achieved.
Bonhams Whisky Department specialises in the sourcing and global auction sales of Vintage Single Malt and Blended Whisky and is run by Martin Green who has been the whisky specialist at Bonhams since 2008 after a career in whisky auctions stretching back over 30 years.
He is credited with devising and holding the first ever dedicated whisky sale in 1989. Today, Bonhams holds four whisky sales a year in Edinburgh and four sales in Hong Kong (two of which are combined with Fine Wine). These attract buyers from around the world and regularly achieve sale rates of over 90%
Martin is acknowledged as one of the country’s foremost authorities on whisky and has written widely on the subject.
Notable single owner collections: The Willard S. Folsom Collection, sourced from San Francisco comprising of over 3500 bottles offered in Global sales at Bonhams during 2009 and 2010, the largest whisky collection to appear on the auction market.
The Bowmore Trilogy
The Bowmore Trilogy Black Bowmore-42 year old-1964, White Bowmore-43-year old-1964, Gold Bowmore-44 year old-1964 £17,500 Sourced from a private European collector
Johnnie Walker Old Highland Whisky-Early 20th Century £7,500, sourced from within the UK licensed trade
Johnnie Walker Old Highland Whisky-Early 20th Century Ardbeg-1965 £4,375, sourced from a private Scottish collector
Black Bowmore-1964 Lots 26 £11,875, 27 £12,500 , 28 £11,875, the three bottles sourced from a private UK collector
The highest auction results as of June 2017 for Black Bowmore at auction globally
The Dalmore Candella £16,250, sourced from a private Scottish collector
The Dalmore Candella
The Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve-1955 £46,850, offered for sale by the distillery on behalf of a Global Charity
The Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve-1955
Glenfiddich-64 year old-1937 £68,500, sourced from a private European collector
Glenfiddich-64 year old-1937 The current UK auction house record for the sale of a bottle of Single Malt Whisky and the highest price paid at auction for a bottle of Glenfiddich
The Macallan Millennium Decanter-40 year old-1949 £21,250, sourced from a private UK collector
The Macallan Millennium Decanter-40 year old-1949 Bonhams Specialist whisky auctions attract International interest and are held in March, June, October and December in Edinburgh and twice each year in Hong Kong from where the bottles are sourced
Dubai Airport based retailer Le Clos sets world record for most expensive whisky bottles ever sold at US$1.2m
Two extremely rare bottles of The Macallan 1926, with labels commissioned by artists Sir Peter Blake and Valerio Adami, bought by private collector
Bottles originally retailed for £20k, and the last known individual bottle sold in 2007 for US$75,000
(Dubai, UAE) 25 April 2018: Two extremely rare bottles of The Macallan 1926 have today set the world record for the most expensive whisky bottles ever sold after they changed hands for US$1.2m. The pair are labelled with original artworks by renowned artists Sir Peter Blake and Valerio Adami. The bottles were sold by Le Clos, the Dubai-Airport based luxury spirits retailer, to an international businessman for his private collection. Each bottle was sold for US$600,000.
These two bottles are two of the most unique bottles of whisky ever produced. The whisky itself is The Macallan 1926, which was distilled in 1926 then aged 60 years in sherry-seasoned oak barrels before being bottled and released in 1986. Of the 40 bottles produced, just 12 were given to British artist Sir Peter Blake, famed for co-creating the Beatles’ album cover for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and 12 were given to the Italian artist Valerio Adami, (released in 1993) one of the most acclaimed pop artists of the 21st century. Each artist created a bespoke label for the bottles, making them highly sought after by art-lovers and whisky collectors alike. The rare bottles are presented in cabinets, or tantaluses, and are based on the ‘brass and glass’ distillery spirit safe designs.
Each bottle originally retailed at £20k, and the last known individual bottle sold in 2007 at Christie’s for US$75,000.
The sale at Le Clos sets a new benchmark for private sales and completes another chapter in The Macallan’s history as a collector’s whisky – the distillery also currently holds the record for most expensive whisky bottle sold at auction with The Macallan M Imperiale achieving US$628,000 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2014.
Le Clos’ relationships and expertise within the luxury spirits market to source such rare and highly collectible products enabled the record-breaking sale to take place, building on several previous world-record sales in travel retail. Dubai Airport is the world’s new travel crossroads, and the partnership has made Macallan accessible to collectors around the globe.
Iain Delaney, Managing Director Le Clos, commented: “Le Clos has built a long-standing relationship with both The Macallan and Dubai Airports and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate our 10year anniversary with another world-record sale. This success is testament to the commitment of our partners who have supported the vision of Le Clos in becoming one of the world’s leading luxury retailers, not just in Dubai Airport but globally.
The desire to deliver world-class retailing excellence is engrained in our DNA as is our reputation for exploring the world to source unique fine wines and luxury spirits that are both accessible as they are different and bring them to the one of the world’s great cross roads.
It’s these attributes; the passion and ability to source some of the rarest bottles in the world, coupled with our world-class retailing credentials that have created the trust in the global market for private retail sales of this magnitude to take place.”
Geoff Kirk, Director of Prestige, The Macallan, said: “These represent some of the most exclusive bottles ever produced making this an iconic sale that will be remembered worldwide for years to come. It is incredibly rare for The Macallan 1926 to be made available for purchase, and the sale offers whisky connoisseurs the chance to secure historic bottles emblematic of 20th century pop culture. The Macallan is renowned for its outstanding quality and this sale demonstrates the brand standing as a leading figure in the whisky industry worldwide.”
“At Dubai International, we are focused on working with great partners who are committed to elevating the travel experience. One element of that experience is Le Clos’ unique product range, combined with the personal knowledge and service their team members offer. We are delighted that this industry record-breaking sale has taken place at our airport,” said Eugene Barry, Dubai Airports’ EVP Commercial.
Le Clos is owned and operated by Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), headquartered in Dubai with a vision to becoming one of the world’s leading independent beverage distributors in emerging markets.
On Wednesday 07th March, Bonhams plays host to The Whisky Sale in Edinburgh. With a number of exceptional whiskies going under the hammer including The Macallan, Bowmore and Talisker this really is a rare opportunity to acquire some truly iconic and collectible whiskies.
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