The first Whisky & Spirits auction of the year is in the books and there was plenty to whet the appetites of collectors and connoisseurs. Here’s a quick tour through some of the highlights.
Leading the way this month with a hammer price of £8,000 was this bottle of Macallan Distil Your World London Edition, a collaboration between Macallan and the Roca Brothers, owners of the esteemed El Celler de Can Roca, for the Distil Your World series and one of only 2000 bottles produced from six first fill Oloroso Sherry casks. The single cask version of the Macallan 2008 Distil Your World London Edition also featured and sold for £5,400. This version was from a smaller run of 465 bottles and only released to selected hotels, bars and restaurants in London.
There was a bunch of Macallan 18 Year Olds from various vintages and including a selection of Gran Reserva with the 1979, 1981 and 1982 all appearing and selling for between £3,000-£3,600 each, only missing the 1980 vintage for the complete set. A Macallan 1950 Handwritten Label, bottled by Gordon & MacPhail fetched £5,000, and for £3,600, one bidder picked up a Macallan Coronation containing two 35cl bottles of Macallan released in an edition of 1953 sets to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
Finally, another bottle worth a mention is this glossy presentation of the 7th Magnum Edition in the Macallan Masters of Photography series. The shiny red box contains a bottle of Macallan aged in no fewer than eight different cask types presented with prints from six world-class photographers capturing various aspects of the Macallan distillery. This sold for a winning bid of £1,900.
There was plenty to watch out for besides Macallan in the way of Scotch malts. Following closely behind the Distil Your World was this deliciously dark Springbank 1965 Cask 2164, bottled by Cadenhead’s as part of their cask strength white label series. It fetched a hammer price of £7200 setting a new auction record for this bottle.
Other stand outs included the likes of a Highland Park 1958 40 Year Old, complete with crystal decanter and commemorative book ‘Reflections on Orkney, Time and Highland Park’ signed by then distillery manager James Robertson and a simple but beautifully labelled Glenlivet 1971 Sherry Wood bottled by Samaroli and sold for £1,750. There was also a pair of 1971 single sherry casks from Glendronach bottled at 38 and 41 years of age that were hotly contested and sold for £2,100 and £3,200.
Undoubtedly, the longest bidding battle of the night was fought over a blended malt, this gorgeous 1922 White Horse, which after a tense wait watching the clock tick down, eventually settled on £4,000.
Our featured charity bottles this month, raising money for The Chaffinch Trust, were kindly donated by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal who is a patron of the charity. The Chaffinch Trust aims to encourage communication and collaboration amongst organisations and individuals in order to develop initiatives and projects that support and encourage those living in areas of disadvantage. Two bottles of Lakes Single Malt The Princess Royal’s Private Reserve each fetched £2,500 to be donated to this worthy cause.
Looking beyond the whiskies there was an eclectic range of spirits and more available for bidding on. For fans of vintage cocktails this was a particularly good sale for finding interesting ingredients. Vintage Campari continues to grow in popularity with bottles selling for as much as £410 and a Campari Cordial reached £300. A 1960s Fernet Branca Menta (£150) saw plenty of interest, as did Aperol Barbieri with a number of 1980s bottlings fetching £120 each.
There was an early auction bidding scrap over a 1960s bottle of Sauza Hornitos Tequila that ended on £370. Another popular bottle was a rare Havana Peppermint Liqueur Creme De Menthe, sold for £525. From the same producer was this bottle of Havana Club Hunters & Frankau rum, bottled for the 225th anniversary of the cigar importer and one of only 500 bottles.
A case of 1970s Beefeater London Distilled Dry Gin was won for £650, while a single bottle fetched £290. There were older gins such as this 1955 Booth’s London Dry Gin (£130) and a quartet of Coates & Co. Plymouth Gin dating from the 1950s-60s that fetched £95 each.
Our Japanese section as ever provided a range of stunning whiskies led this month by some mature malts from Yamazaki, Karuizawa and Hakushu. Topping the category was a Yamazaki 25 Year Old, selling for £5,800 and there were also Yamazaki Sherry Cask releases from 2012 and 2013 selling for between £2,900-£3,500 each. The equivalent bottles from Hakushu were also on offer with the 25 Year Old fetching £2,100 and a duo of Hakushu Sherry Cask 2013 releases selling for £1,400 and £1,450.
Closed distillery Karuizawa provided some of the most enticing bottles of the auction with a Karuizawa 1981 Cask #162, bottled for La Maison Du Whisky as part of the Cocktail labels series, selling for £5,000 and a pair of Karuizawa 1995 23 Year Old Cask#5038, The Crowning Cask, matured in a single red wine cask and bottled at a hefty 69% ABV, fetching £3,300-£3,400.
There was an international feel to the auction with whiskies from far and wide. A Lakes Distillery Whiskymaker’s Reserve No.1 fetched £875. Some late bidding pushed two Seagram’s Crown Royal 1952 up to £410 a piece. Some of the wide ranging locations included an Alrik Smoked Single Malt from Germany (£85), a private bottling of Milk & Honey Single Malt from Israel (£75), and a Swiss Santis 7 Year Old Malt (£60).
Ireland had an variety of Midleton Very Rare releases ranging from 1994 up to 2022 and from the USA there was a lot of interest in collectors favourite Jack Daniels’ with a Barrel House 1 fetching £1,200 and a Bicentennial bottling reaching £360. A half pint bottle of Very Old Fitzgerald 1953 8 Year Old bottled at 100 proof sold for £1,100 and a Jim Beam 20 Year Old Distillers’ Masterpiece finished in Port casks sold for £1,050.