Here are some of the highlights from our January whisky and spirits auction.
It turns out that the theme this month was the colour red. Karuizawa 38 Year Old Ruby Geisha sold for £21000 and its sister bottle the Karuizawa 34 Year Old Ruby Geisha sold for £19000. The Macallan 40 Year Old from The Red Collection sold for £20500.
Then, there was a theme connecting the Japanese theme and the Macallan theme and it was this, a Macallan 1989 31 Year Old, finished in Mizunara Oak casks which fetched £7800.
My personal highlight was this Bowmore 25 Year Old bottled to commemorate the Auld Alliance Reception held at Chateau Lagrange in Bordeaux on 20 June 1995 which sold for £3300. It is one of only 75 bottles ever produced. They were presented to guests at the reception and these are rarely seen at auction. This particular bottle comes from the collection of well known Scottish broadcaster Jim McColl MBE, who was a presenter on BBC Scotland’s popular TV show The Beechgrove Garden show across four decades. Do take a moment to read about Jim’s extraordinary contribution to the whisky industry and about the other bottles from his collection.
Glenburgie 1962 bottled in 1986 as part of the handwritten labels series from legendary Italian bottler Silvano Samaroli sold for £3000.
A half bottle of Highland Park 8 Year Old 100 Proof bottled in the 1970s by Gordon & MacPhail (despite its diminutive stature) sold for £950 after some intense bidding.
A Rosebank 12 Year Old Flora and Flora ended just short of its previous auction record at £525.
This month’s auction included stunning decanters of Cognac. A gorgeous Baccarat crystal decanter of Richard Hennessy, named after the house’s founder, fetched £2700.
There was not one but three fine Baccarat decanters of Courvoisier Heritage de Louis Renard, named after Courvoisier’s first master blender of the twentieth century, and they fetched between £2500 and £2600 each. Only fifty bottles were produced of this blend of ‘Paradis’ Cognacs distilled between 1869 and 1914.
The stunning Frapin Cuvee 1888 decanter, decorated with 24 carat gold thread, fetched £2200, and there were a number of decanters of the iconic Remy Martin Louis XIII and Hennessy Paradis.
Blended whisky doesn’t always get the attention it deserves and yet again there were exceptional blends in the auction. The world’s most iconic blend was also the auction’s most valuable, Johnnie Walker.
Johnnie Walker 1805 Celebration Blend was released in 2005 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Walker. It was bottled at cask strength and is a blend of whiskies aged from 45 to 75 years, these bottles were not released for general sale, instead, they were presented to those who the company considered to have made ‘a significant contribution to modern life’. This one sold for £13,600.
Johnnie Walker Directors Blend 2012 was one of the rarest Johnnie Walkers ever created. The Directors Blend Series was also never on general sale, instead each bottle was given as a personal gift to esteemed friends of Johnnie Walker. This trio, presented in a wooden case, fetched £6,600.
Thirdly, The John Walker in a Baccarat Crystal decanter sold for £1,150. Named after the founder, the whiskies in this blend were sourced from nine distilleries, including malt from Glen Albyn which closed in 1983, and grain from Cambus, which closed in 1993.
More Blended Whisky
Whyte & Mackay 1966 50 Year Old fetched £900, an uptick on recent sales, and we saw increased interest in older blends such as Haig Dimple where prices were up on recent months.
Depending on where your political affiliations lie, there were also House of Commons and House of Lords blends signed by Boris Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, William Hague and Tony Blair. You can make up your own mind on what to take from the results.
Impressive results for vintage Campari continued this auction, and this 1960s Campari Bitter sold for £220. There were record results for Fernet Branca with two bottles from the 1950s selling for £290 and £300. Chartreuse saw a late bidding battle for this Yellow Chartreuse which was bottled between 1956 and 1964. It ended on £925.
A well preserved Royal Navy Rum Flagon had a hammer price of £2,200 and a few surprises in the category saw extended bidding battles for this Bacardi Superior that ended on £280 and a Havana Club 3 Year Old from the 1960s that fetched £340.