Our December Whisky & Spirits auction saw an eclectic range of bottles on offer as well as unique lots donated for charity. Here’s a look through some of the highlights.
Cream of the Crop
Running alongside our whisky & spirits auction this month was The Drinks Trust Charity Auction raising money to help those in need in the drinks industry. Up for grabs were some stunning unique bottles and bespoke experiences kindly donated by the drinks industry.
One of the star lots was this rare bottle of Foursquare ‘The Sly’ 15 Year Old, bottled by Master Distiller Richard Seale as a gift to Sly Augustin (owner of globally renowned rum bar Trailer Happiness) after his bar was devastated by the London flash floods in July 2021. One of only 3 bottles in existence and with a unique label hand written by global brand ambassador Gayle Seale, the bottle raised an incredible £10,000. There was plenty of interest and a flurry of late bidding on this Glenfarclas 1977 42 Year Old, one of only 101 decanters released, which sold for £3,000.
A range of unique experiences were on offer from hotel stays to Michelin star dinners and private tasting events. VIP Tickets to the Lords Dining Club Presented by The Balvenie featuring a vip drinks reception in the England dressing room as well as a meal cooked by Michelin star chef Tommy Banks were won for £725. A one night stay in Covent Garden’s stunning boutique NoMad Hotel with dinner sold for £525. For whisky connoisseurs there was the chance to bid on a ‘Dream Drams’ Private Whisky Tasting at the legendary Milroy’s for 2 people, which raised £370.
This month’s top lot honours went to a complete set of Karuizawa 1999-2000 The Last Masterpiece that sold for £27,500. Known as the Colours set due to it’s brightly coloured labels, the set is named The Last Masterpiece as these bottles contain the last Karuizawa to be distilled in its final vintages of 1999 and 2000. From another closed Japanese distillery, there was this Hanyu 1990 Ichiro’s Malt 7 of Hearts, part of the Card Series, that fetched £4,900.
As ever there was strong interest in Islay malts and there were plenty of intriguing bottles to choose from. Our top Islay lot was this Bowmore Bicentenary 1779-1979, sold for £4,600, not the old fashioned hand-blown decanter version, but the far more rarely seen Italian import from Fecchia & Frassa, bottled at a cask strength of 56.2% ABV in 1979 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery. Also bottled to celebrate an anniversary was this Port Ellen Maltings 1973 21 Year Old, bottled for the 25th Anniversary of Port Ellen Maltings in 1998 that fetched £2,400. This deliciously dark Ardbeg 30 Year Old, distilled in 1967, from Signatory Vintage fetched £3,800 and a Bowmore 1969 sherry cask finished on £2,200. Lagavulin is rarely seen as an independent bottling and this SMWS 111.4 1984 11 Year Old from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society fetched £1,250.
There is always interest in closed distilleries and collectors, connoisseurs and investors alike are all drawn to the rarity of the liquid in these bottles. Old whiskies from the recently reopened Brora Distillery saw some competitive bidding with this Brora 1970 32 Year Old and Brora 1977 26 Year Old, both from Douglas Laing’s Old & Rare Platinum Selection, selling for £3,000 and £1,450 respectively. There was a selection of malts from distilleries such as Brora, St Magdalene, Glenury Royal and Millburn from indie bottlers including the ever popular Diageo Rare Malts Selection. Of particular note was a bottle of Glenlochy 1952 49 Year Old The Old Malt Cask bottled by Douglas Laing, one of only 311 bottles, that sold for £1,450.
Other lots worth a mention include this this rather sparkly bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin Crystalized with Swarovski, which sold for £825. Interest in Kweichow Moutai shows no signs of abating with this 50 Year Old Baijiu fetching £3,600 and a bottle dating from the 1970s to 1980s fetching £2,400. Chartreuse also continued to perform strongly with this Charteuse Green produced in Tarragona between 1973-1985 fetching £800 and a 35cl bottle of Chartreuse Green from 1956-1964 sold for £650.