We’re excited to announce we will be teaming up with Halewood International to host our first ever Gin tasting.
Halewood boast a quality selection of Gins with the following featuring on the evening.
Whitley Neill Gin
Whitley Neill Rhubarb and Ginger Gin
Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin
Liverpool Rose Petal Gin
Aberfalls Sweet Violet Gin Liqueur
Aberfalls Orange Marmalade Gin
The tasting will be held on Friday 10th August 2018 at Blackpool Football Club in The Directors Box . All attendees should arrive at 19:30 for 20:00 start.
On arrival you will be greeted by a member of the Whisky-Online team and offered a Mystery Gin & Tonic and a selection of Canapés.
Our host Jenny from Halewood will be delighted to educate everyone throughout the evening and will be keen to talk you through their 6 different gins on offer. Jenny will also be keen to guide you on the perfect serves for each Gin.
All Gins tasted on the evening will be avalible to purchase with a 10% discount. please note discount is only avalible at the event.
Tickets are £30.00 per person and can be purchased by contacting Debbie or Tim on 01253 620376 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Book now to avoid disappointment as tickets are limited.
So, a few weeks ago Wayne, Harrison and Sarah traveled to Birmingham to pick up Alex Barclay’s miniature collection. With the help of Alex it took the four of them a solid 5 hours to carefully pick over 5,000 bottles off the shelves and pack them in to forty five, 45 litre tubs. Over the next several months we will be auctioning approximately 1000 bottles per sale. So for example in this sale you will find just under 500 different examples from James MacArthur, numerous Japanese and Taiwanese miniatures along with distillery bottlings from A-B.
To learn a little more about Alex’s collection head over to our blog Learn more »
History of James MacArthur miniatures
The company James MacArthur has been bottling scotch whisky since the 1980s and it wasn’t until the early 1990s did they start producing miniatures to accompany their full size counterparts. I assume the idea was to give enthusiasts the opportunity to try whiskies without forking out big money for a full sized bottle. Similar to the modern craze of samples.
As Alex didn’t want to risk not been able to get each release, he decided to contact MacArthurs direct. He was put in touch with a chap called Arthur Winning. Arthur agreed to provide a number of each of his minis to the Mini Bottle Club.
It is worth mentioning and interesting to know some MacArthur miniatures were produced for the Mini Bottle Club and commercially with the same label. But if this was ever the case, green bottles were used for the commercial bottlings and clear bottles for the MBC issues. You will therefore find a few minis with the same labels but different coloured bottles.
Some minis were produced in sets of up to 240 of each malt, while others were produced in numbers as low as 60.
Arthur also agreed to set aside one mini of each produced for Alex. Although he still had to buy them at normal commercial prices but at least he didn’t have to hunt for them.
Following some discussions, Arthur agreed to re-bottle full sized bottles as miniatures for the club, as several of these had never been bottled in miniature form.
This was an expensive operation and some of the malts were only available in small quantities so the number of minis produced varied from as few as 14 up to around 60.
Eventually his stocks were exhausted but there was still a demand for MacArthur minis from some club members. So Arthur started to re-bottle some other malts as minis. Most of them were produced from full sized bottles such as examples from the SMWS. The miniatures produced varied from 14 to 30 bottles.
These were often numbered and Alex was generally able to get bottle no.1 of each one produced.
This process eventually came to an end in the late 1990s but MacArthurs continued to produce some commercial minis often with the 500 Years of Scotch label. As far as Alex is aware they stopped producing minis in the early 2000s.
Malt Mill 1959
Without a doubt the rarest miniature of them all. There’s probably a lot of doubt in certain people regarding this miniature. However, the provenance of this miniature lies with Alex and his friend who sourced a sample bottle from an ex-distillery worker in the 1990s. With their ongoing relationship with the bottler MacArthurs, it was decided they were the guys to bottle the sample into 4 5cl miniatures which were issued to members of the UK mini bottle club. See more details »
Just under 500 different James MacArthur bottlings
Alex said: ”I think that the story of Malt Mill is well known but some other rare minis produced include two Lomond minis (the only Lomond minis that I know of) from SMWS bottles, a few Ladyburn minis from re-bottled Wm Grant bottles, a Kininvie from a sample that was obtained from a distillery worker and a Port Ellen 12 year Old with the Tall Still label (only TWO of these minis exist as all others had the original MacArthurs label).”
”As far as I know there were only three MacArthur minis that I failed to get all with the 500 Years of Scotch label – Teaninich 21yo 57.2%, Teaninich 1974 58.4% and Imperial 1979 43%. These were amongst the last MacArthur minis to be produced.”
”I have kept 8 MacArthur minis in my collection – Dailuaine Millennium edition distilled in 1962, Glenlossie 12yo gold label, Lomond 19yo tall still label, Mosstowie 13yo tall still label, Ladyburn 12yo tall still label, Lochside Grain, Ben Nevis Grain, and Cambus Grain. All of the others are available in auction!”
Joining all the James MacArthur’s are a ridiculous selection of Japanese whiskies. Alex acquired many of these miniatures during business trips to Japan in the 1980s. He was also fortunate enough to meet up with the late Taizo Shiratsuchi while in Osaka. Taizo and Alex traded for many years prior to his sad passing. He was able to get several Japanese minis for Alex which were either trade or tasting samples which were very hard to get.
What else to look out for…
From the proprietors you will find examples from Arran, Auchentoshan, Ardbeg, Aberlour, Aberfeldy, AnCnoc, Aultmore, Bowmore, Balvenie, Bruichladdich, Balblair, Bunnahabhain, Blair Athol, Benriach and Bladnoch.
As always there’s a whole host of interesting miniatures to choose from whether you’re a collector or drinker. If you’re not already registered, you can do so here.
In our latest auction we saw what could be described as a curious mixture of solid consistency and the usual July quiet spell. Once again we had a couple of bonded casks of whisky at the top of the sale, this time a pair of delicious 1996 Ben Nevis butts. At £13,000 a piece this seems a more sensible, traditional market value result than some previous casks have fetched. Although still well above what you’d have paid from a broker until recently, this perhaps represents the big difference in cultural perception between Ben Nevis and the likes of Macallan or a closed distillery such as Littlemill.
Moving to the bottles and Macallan predictably had another good turn out with £4200 for the 1957 Anniversary Malt and £3900 for the 40 year old Gordon & MacPhail bottling for Italy from the 1970s. While impressive it seems as though it won’t be long until these early Anniversary Malts will be spiralling even higher towards a five figure sum. Let’s see what’s happening a year from now, in today’s market it’s getting harder and harder to be surprised by anything. We used to baulk at the likes of the Macallan Diamond Jubilee fetching north of £1200, and yet, here we are with last night’s example fetching £3600. Interesting times…
Other solidly performing Macallans were a pair of Private Eyes for £3300 apiece and a 1970 Anniversary Malt for £3000. It seems, despite constant supply, the market still has appetite for these kinds of bottlings.
It was good to see the Bowmore 1956 official distillery bottling return. Unsurprisingly it ended up at £4100, even at this price it seems good for such an incredible whisky. Interestingly the Brora 1972 Rare Malts 58.7% fetched £2800, down a little on previous results. Could this be the lower filling level, over-supply, or just summer doldrums? Time will tell, but I suspect whoever bought it nabbed themselves a wee bargain.
Other stunning whiskies in the upper ends of the sale included the Bowmore Bicentenary at £1750. This is another bottling that, despite ubiquity at auction, is going nowhere but up in price. When everyone wants to a bottling, for both collecting and drinking then value is pretty much bullet proof these days. Similarly, it was good to see the Highland Park Rebus 20 year old fetching £1650. This is a lesser known bottling, but those who have been lucky enough to taste it will understand the desirability.
Undeniably our favourite bottle this sale was the Ainslie Baillie & Co from the early 20th century. It’s so rare to find old genuine bottles like this in such stunning condition. This would have contained a significant proportion of Clynelish and I can only imagine what it must taste like. £1500 is a solid price.
Another interesting result was for the Lagavulin 12 year old White Horse 1970s bottling. This is a bottle that I’ve often mentioned in these reports, however, the fact it jumped right up to £1200 last night shows that it is likely entering a new trading level. It’s understandable when the quality of the whisky in these bottles has been lauded for years now and desirability is only going up and up.
Similarly the two old vintage dumpy Highland Park bottlings at £1150 a piece is also understandable, these bottlings are becoming more and more popular these days as knowledge about just how beautiful the whisky contained within is proliferates. Again, it will be very interesting to see where these bottlings are sitting at a year from now.
Other solid results were the Macallan Travel series for £1050, the Springbank 25 year old dumpy official bottling for £1050 and rather beautiful old official 1960s Rosebank for £975. Interestingly, an identical bottle sold for £575 as well. The only difference? Some splitting to the seal. It’s interesting to see how these kinds of wee details can make a different to collectors.
Midleton whiskies have long been collectable, however, in recent months we’ve noticed how prices across the board for their official releases have started to really skyrocket. For years you could pick up the 1990 Midleton release for around £160-220. Last night one fetched £825 and a 1997 release hit £650. With earlier releases in the series now consistently at four figures, how long before the 1990s releases all go the same way?
Another bottling which, conversely, seems like it’s taking its time to get above four figures is the Rare Malts Port Ellen releases. These bottlings have long sat around the £500-700 mark. Last night one fetched £825 which is a solid result. I suspect that one day these will jump above the £1000 mark and then it’ll be impossible to get one for less. Now might be a good time to snap one up if you’ve ever eyed one…
In terms of bargains this month there were perhaps one or two more than usual, although by old standards they are still thin on the ground and today’s definition of ‘bargain’ on the secondary market perhaps needs updating from what it meant in 2012-14. A 1968 Dalmore bottled in 1983 by Avery’s of Bristol seems like decent value at £575 for such a rare bottling. The Highland Park Ice at £105 also looks good compared to other recent sales.
Beyond that though, it’s rather slim pickings. As usual almost everything at the lower ends of the sale is really starting to hit or outstrip what might be considered its regular market value. Although, given the rapid and volatile nature of today’s secondary market, is there still really such a thing as ‘market value’? Probably not for an increasing number of whiskies I’d say…
Baillie’s T.Y.O Scotch Whisky
Ainslie, Baillie & Co Ltd.
Highlighting our June auction is without a doubt this amazing bottle of Baillie’s T.Y.O. Scotch Whisky. It’s sure to be over 100 years old and not something we’ve ever come across before. We’re excited to offer this to our audience and to see what interest it stirs up – particularly with those who are mad about anything remotely close to the Original Clynelish. We’ve done some digging on the history of this bottle, so if you’re interest, head over to our blog and learn all about this incredible bottle of liquid history. Continue reading »
Rosebank Celebrated –
Pure Malt 1960s
Two rather sexy official Rosebank’s bottled during the nineteen sixties. We collected these from the vendors house in Wimbledon. He acquired them many years ago from his uncle. In fact these were once apart of a full case of 12 before he drank them. I like how it states on the label ‘Celebrated Pure Malt’. You don’t see other distilleries mention this so it must be unique for Rosebank. We’ve never come across an official bottle of Rosebank from as early as this before so it will be interesting to see what level of interest they reach. See more details »
The Macallan 1957 bottled in 1983 is the first release in the 25 year old Anniversary Malt series. It is also one of the best whiskies out of them all – It displays everything that is old sherried Macallan. View product »
The 1956 Bowmore is also the first in a series of vintage labels which depict the famous seagulls flying over the distillery. This series is also concentrated around whiskies matured in selected sherry casks. View product »
Casks Held In Bond
Those looking to purchase maturing stock, we have two sister casks of 1996 Ben Nevis in this sale. Both casks are currently at 22 years old and are suitable to bottle now or if you wanted to leave them longer they would happily sit and mature comfortably for many more years. Read our tasting notes »
Ben Nevis 1996 #1458
An excellent example of Ben Nevis at its peak. The sort of cask you could easily bottle now but should also continue to hold its quality or improve for a further 3-6 years. The kind of exemplary, distinctive and characterful Scottish single malt it is increasingly hard to find in this day and age. See more details »
Ben Nevis 1996 #1459
The same conclusion can be reached about cask 1459: this is a cask which is in top condition now but should maintain this quality – or even surpass it – over the next 3-6 years. The kind of characterful, distinctive – and valuable – malt whisky that very few distilleries are producing these days. See more details »
Old Blended Scotch Whisky
Apart from the epic Baillie’s we’ve already highlighted, you will find a few more old blends such as several Black & White’s from the 1950s. An unusual variation of King George VI & another Victoria Vat from the 1940s. The most obscure of the lot is a Weston’s Choicest Liqueur Blended Scotch Whisky. It was blended & bottled by a company called Duncan Weston & Co, Ltd and imported to the US by The Caledonian Corporation, Rockefeller Centre New York in the 1940s. Whether you’re a collector or drinker, these old blends are getting harder and harder to find nowadays. View all blends »
What else to look out for…
There’s plenty to keep your eye on in this sale; for example there’s a 1966 Banff & Tamdhu by Douglas Laing for their Old Malt Cask series. The Banff is one of the very first bottlings ever released by Douglas Laing in 1998 and is a particularly hard example to find with only 181 bottles being produced. You will find numerous examples by Signatory’s, including a few gems from their Silent Stills. In my opinion this is the best series out there to collect. Not only are they all from closed distilleries, they have everything going for them in terms of attributes. They’re arguably one of the hardest series to complete due to the fact many sets have now been split up for their miniatures.
Amongst the many Gordon & MacPhail bottlings, the most impressive in this sale is a ridiculously dark 1969 Miltonduff. You don’t see many Miltonduff on the market so this example is a treat. Equally aesthetically pleasing is a 1988 Littlemill from a lesser know Gordon & Company. If you’re ever going to judge a whisky with your eyes, surely its going to be one of these. If you’re looking for certain quality then take a look at the 1965 Springbank for Milroy’s. This was bottled in 1992 for their Anniversary – we’ve never come across this example, but if it is remotely like any Springbank from the 1960s you’re in for a treat. Or why not try the offering by Blackadder, a 1965 40 year old Blairfindy. This is well thought of as Glenfarclas, although there’s no mention of this on the label.
Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Ben Nevis 1996 cask #1458
Nose: As with many of these mid-late 1990s Ben Nevis which are currently reaching the market, this one possesses a typical richness. At first it is dominated by honey and freshly baked bread aromas. Indeed, there is a pronounced autolytic character. The profile develops with further notes of mead and some gentle background fruitiness; white stone fruits; mirabelle; pear eau de vie. Some gingerbread is also present. Globally it is fresh, rich and with a sense of elegance and complexity.
Palate: Here the Ben Nevis personality really strikes deep. Dense exotic and green fruits which are both syrupy and oily in texture. Barley sugar, quince, lemon curd and a turmeric/earthy quality. This really is excellent whisky. It is reminiscent of some of these late 1980s aged Irish single malts which have been bottled extensively these past few years. Underneath there are various tertiary complexities such as toasted seeds, yellow flowers and lanolin. An excellent Ben Nevis.
Finish: Long, heathery, spicy, lightly fruity, oily and with a sense of fragrant, herbal waxiness.
Comments: An excellent example of Ben Nevis at its peak. The sort of cask you could easily bottle now but should also continue to hold its quality or improve for a further 3-6 years. The kind of exemplary, distinctive and characterful Scottish single malt it is increasingly hard to find in this day and age.
Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Ben Nevis 1996 cask #1459
Nose: Aromatically similar to its sister cask although 1459 moves more in the direction of syrupy sweetness; golden syrup, icing sugar, treacle, coconut – even a touch of rancio. There is a more plain, straightforward earthiness as well, and some denser, darker fruits such as sultanas and prunes. Globally though this is a similarly fat, characterful and aromatically rich style.
Palate: Heather ale, fragrant waxes, soot, green banana, ripe melon, guava and dried mango. Some pineapple chunks, toasted sunflower seeds, trail mix, damp earthen floored cellars, aged sweet wines. Again the profile is similar to the sister cask – the differences lie in the subtle, tertiary deviations in flavour. The quality overall is equal and the texture is similarly oily, syrupy and fat with these rather glistening fruit aspects.
Finish: Long, more spice driven, slightly dryer, coal dust, a mineral aspect and some notes of meat and leather in the aftertaste.
Comments: The same conclusion can be reached about cask 1459: this is a cask which is in top condition now but should maintain this quality – or even surpass it – over the next 3-6 years. The kind of characterful, distinctive – and valuable – malt whisky that very few distilleries are producing these days.
Both of these cask are avalible to bid on in our June auction which ends on the 4th July 2018. Start Bidding » from the 27th June, 8pm.
We just had to flag up one of the most interesting lots from our upcoming auction, which starts on Wednesday, 27th June: this rather fabulous bottling of Baillie’s Ten Years Old (T.Y.O.), bottled around a century ago by Ainslie, Baillie & Co.
Quite aside from this bottle’s incredible age and condition, it’s the bottling company rather than the brand that makes this antique blend even more special. Keen fans of old blends and Clynelish distillery will have pricked up their ears at the mention of Ainslie, for it was James Ainslie & Co. that bought the Clynelish distillery in 1896, and it was under the Ainslie & Heilbron name that many of the best ‘old Clynelish’ single malts from the distillery that became known as Brora were bottled in the 1960s and 1970s.
By then, of course, Ainslie & Heilbron had long been a part of the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) that eventually became what we know today as Diageo. What’s so interesting about this bottle is that Ainslie, Baillie & Co. only existed for a short time, enabling us to date this bottle from the period 1913-21.
James Ainslie & Co. had refurbished the Clynelish distillery, which was already one of the foremost distilleries in Scotland, in 1898, the year of the Pattison Crash. Ainslie & Co. were badly damaged financially in the crash and eventually, in 1912, the company was facing bankruptcy.
James Ainslie and his brother Thomas both retired, James Ainslie & Co. was dissolved and their partner John Risk, who owned half of Ainslie & Co., sold the Ainslie family’s shares in Clynelish to the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL).
The following year, 1913, the remaining assets of James Ainslie & Co. were merged with Walter Baillie & Sons, Robertson Brothers – which Baillie & Sons had bought in 1903 – and John Gillon & Co. to form the new company Ainslie, Baillie & Co., but this company was only to last until the retirement of James Ainslie’s son Robert in 1921.
Ainslie, Baillie & Co. was then itself liquidated and its assets were acquired by Sir James Calder, who merged it with the whisky merchants David Heilbron & Co. and the distillers Colville, Greenlees & Co. to form Ainslie & Heilbron (Distillers) Ltd.
Ainslie & Heilbron was moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow in 1922 and formally became part of the DCL empire in 1926, where the company was reunited with the Clynelish distillery, which was now wholly-owned by DCL, who had bought out John Risk the previous year. However, Ainslie & Heilbron would have been working in tandem with DCL since its inception, as Sir James Calder had been in partnership with, and indeed on the board of, DCL since 1921.
Quite the history, eh? In these days of mega-brands and global conglomerates it’s easy to forget how different the whisky industry was a hundred years ago, when hundreds of independent blenders and distillers existed and were constantly changing hands.
This bottle of Baillie’s Ten Year Old, then, really represents a truly fascinating period in the whisky industry and given the Ainslie name we feel there must be a strong possibility that some of the ten year old whisky in this bottle would have been distilled at Old Clynelish. Bearing in mind the fact that many top-line blends of the day were up to 50% malt whisky, this is a mouthwatering idea.
At the time that Ainslie’s bought the distillery in 1896 Clynelish was already well-known as having the most valuable spirit in the industry – indeed, for many years previously Clynelish had been able to sell every drop of whisky it produced to private customers, and refused trade orders. It was Ainslie & Co.’s rebuilding and expansion of the distillery in 1896-8 that enabled greater production and the ability to service both private and industry customers, meaning that Clynelish began to feature in more blended whiskies from the beginning of the 20th century.
In later years, the Ainslie & Heilbron company would become the home to established blends including Ainslie’s Royal Edinburgh, Ainslie’s King’s Liqueur and King’s Legend and The Real McTavish, which are all believed to have contained a proportion of Old Clynelish in their recipes. We can’t know for sure if that was also the case with this Baillie’s but the Ainslie connection means it’s a very strong possibility, and with the blend being stated as ten years old the prospect is certainly an enticing one.
In any case, and all speculation aside, this is a remarkably well-preserved bottle of historical significance. It was obviously a premium product of its era – don’t forget that age statements for whiskies were relatively rare at this time, particularly for blends.
From the fact that the back label’s ‘certificate of analysis’ (dated 1904) and the capsule both have the name of the pre-merger Walter Baillie & Sons on them, we believe that this bottle dates from very soon after the creation of Ainslie, Baillie & Co. (1913, to save you referring back to the earlier history lesson) and we expect there to be a lot of interest when this bottle comes under our hammer in our next auction, which begins on Wednesday 27th June. Keep an eye on this one!
For much more information on the convoluted history of the Ainslie company, Clynelish and Brora, do check out whiskyfun’s fascinating Brora History page.
If you’re interested in this Lot, you can register on our website here.
It’s been a long time coming, but Daftmill distillery is finally making its debut on the whisky scene. We’ve got a sample of the enigmatic Lowlander’s Inaugural Release which I’ll be trying shortly, but first here’s some history and background on this most unusual and enigmatic of distilleries.
What’s so unusual about Daftmill? Well, they just do everything their own way. The distillery is a side-project on a working farm in Fife, an hour’s drive north of Edinburgh, and distillation takes place sporadically during the main farm’s quiet periods: two months in summer and then between November and February.
If you’ve never heard of Daftmill before and are wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s a few facts and a potted history.
Daftmill was established by brothers Francis and Ian Cuthbert in 2003 with the conversion of old mill buildings on the farm into a microdistillery. The License to Distil was granted in 2005 on St. Andrew’s Day (30th November) and the first cask was filled on 16th December of that year.
The Cuthbert family have been producing malting barley in Fife for six generations – Francis and Ian’s grandfather finally bought the estate in 1984 – and also grow potatoes and herd cattle. The Cuthberts are believed to be only the third owners of their land since the 13th century.
Aside from the barley they keep for their own distilling, Daftmill sell the rest of their crop to other distillers, with Edrington Group (Macallan and Highland Park) being their biggest customer.
The distillery is, therefore, arguably the most self-sufficient in Scotland, with their own barley and water from the Daftmill stream. There is a story that Daftmill got its name because this stream, which originally served the mill, appears to run uphill.
Apart from the stills, the spirit safe and the mash tun which were made in Rothes, all the equipment and work to convert the old mill into a distillery was sourced within a few miles of the distillery. Francis conducts almost the entirety of the distillation process himself with occasional help from his brother Ian, whose day job is running the estate quarry.
The production process is geared towards generating a fruity spirit, which means clear wort, long, slow fermentations of 96-100 hours and slow distillation with minimal foreshots and very narrow cut points. The stills are small, are charged below capacity and have large condensers, all to ensure lots of copper contact for the spirit, again to try and ensure a light, fruity style.
Byproducts of the brewing and distillation process are used on the farm, with a heat exchanger heating water to help prevent the duck pond freezing over in winter, spent grains being fed to the family’s prize beef herd and even the distillery effluent being used as fertiliser.
The distillery currently produces just 20,000 litres of alcohol per year and even during the distilling seasons production is not continuous as the main business of the farm must take precedence. In practice, this has led to the filling of around 100 casks per year, making Daftmill one of the lowest-producing distilleries in Scotland.
Around 90% of Daftmill’s new make is filled into fresh bourbon casks, the majority of which are from Heaven Hill, with the remainder being sherry hogsheads and butts. The casks mature onsite in the distillery’s dunnage warehouses.
This small scale production was certainly rare when Daftmill began production, if not unique – Kilchoman, which also began production in 2005, originally shared many of the same characteristics. But in many other ways – most obviously commercially – these two distilleries are poles apart.
Kilchoman were straight to market the moment their spirit came of age, with a high profile press launch and accompanying hoopla, a robust marketing strategy, an expanding range packaged in bespoke bottles and literally hundreds of single cask releases for shops and independent retailers around the world.
An expansion in its third year of production now means that Kilchoman’s theoretical capacity is already over six times larger than Daftmill’s 20,000 litres a year. Indeed, with well over 400 different bottlings in just ten years since their spirit became whisky, Kilchoman’s Whiskybase page would already make a completist collector weep.
Daftmill, on the other hand, might appear to a casual observer to be almost deliberately obscurist. Marketing has been almost nil – the distillery’s website could easily be believed to have been created in 2005 and not updated since. There is no visitor centre on Daftmill farm and tours are available only by appointment in advance.
But all this is because Daftmill are only interested in their product, only concerned with the quality of their whisky. Back in the mists of 2013, I attended the inaugural Dramboree whisky festival in Aberfeldy, the highlight of which was the first Daftmill whisky tasting ever to have been conducted outside of the distillery, which was then in its eighth year of production. The spirits we tasted were already fantastic, but Francis’s mantra has been nothing if not consistent: “We’ll release it when we think it’s ready.”
That moment has finally arrived. The Inaugural Release of Daftmill is a small bottling of just three casks, but its impact will be far-ranging. This is not just another very welcome addition to the expanding range of Lowland distilleries. With Daftmill, we whisky fans are blessed with a fully evolved new single malt in a style that was almost extinct.
The first fill bourbon casks used for the inaugural release come from the earliest distillations at Daftmill; the whisky is twelve years old and has been bottled at 55.8%. The release is limited to 629 bottles: 250 of these were allocated by ballot by the company’s distributor, Berry Bros & Rudd with another 250 being split between eager retailers in the UK and internationally. We are very excited to have got our hands on a few bottles of this historic whisky, which will be available on our website from Sunday 17th June at approximately 5pm. We have a small allocation so it’s first come first served.
Daftmill Inaugural Release Tasting Notes by Whisky-Online
Nose: Very clean with the expected vanilla from the first fill bourbon, and underlying notes of autumn leaves and old polished bookcases. A little nervous at first, but settles down quickly and the vanilla fades into the background behind porridge, cereals, cream, honey and cranachan. Develops ripe green apples, nougat, milky Weetabix, hard icing sugar and faint scratched lemon peel. Water releases sweet cinnamon and milk chocolate aromas.
Palate: Medium-full, sweet but lively mouthfeel – not cloying at all. Mostly the cereal, patisserie and sweetshop flavours from the nose: marshmallows, nougat, honey, plus the Weetabix and a more noticeable nuttiness – unsalted almonds and brazil nuts. Faint Playdoh puttiness and pastry dough offset by a citric note. Water smooths the edges and adds notes of flapjacks and very faint summer fruit.
Finish: Good length, drying, sweet notes of pastry and a returning polished oakiness.
Comment: A startlingly mature release from a distinctly leftfield operation. Very high quality spirit – remarkable, considering that this is from among the very first casks to be distilled at Daftmill.
Daftmill Inaugural Release will be followed by annual Summer and Winter releases reflecting the distillery’s production cycles – this philosophy was already in place at the 2013 Dramboree tasting and the differences between the Summer and Winter output are striking. There are also plans for four single cask releases each year.
Just about everyone at that fabled Dramboree tasting five years ago would have bottled some of the six and seven year old whiskies we tasted that night on the spot if they’d had the option, but despite its modest, self-effacing demeanour Daftmill has always had luxuries that few, if any other recently-founded distilleries could afford.
Where the vast majority of new distillers are hamstrung by crippling start-up costs, Daftmill already owned their site and their raw materials, so only needed to renovate their building and pay for their equipment. With no staff to pay, the company only needs to sustain its running costs.
And while other new distillers have to produce gin or vodka to bring revenue in and make ends meet while they wait for their whisky to mature – not to mention paying for advertising and marketing costs – the distillery remains a side project from a working, profitable family farm business.
Daftmill answers to no investors hungry for a quick buck; there is no marketing department, no focus group, no overwhelming drive to expand or conquer the world. The Cuthberts have been able to make their own decisions on how and when to distil and how and when to come to market. Their only goal throughout all of this has been to make the best Lowland-style whisky that they are capable of producing. For the future, their sales need only to pay to keep the distillery running. The product design is in keeping with the rest of Daftmill project: minimal, unfussy.
But this image of the distillery as a side project – almost a glorified hobby for a man with a demanding full-time job – completely belies the pride that anyone who has met Francis Cuthbert will have detected as soon as he opens his mouth to talk about it.
Now, finally, we have a product to put with the name. Daftmill was almost a secret, or at least a frequently forgotten, almost theoretical whisky. You can be sure that if Francis had never thought it good enough, the product would never have been bottled.
With these new whiskies, the genie is finally out of the bottle and that forgotten status is irrevocably changed. It’s probably fair to expect that a lot more people will be phoning up for those appointment-only guided tours. But don’t expect a visitor centre just yet…
Macallan goes from strength to strength on the secondary market today and the top end of our latest sale only serves to underpin this fact. Results like the Macallan 1938 for £12,000 , breaking the previous record price recorded in our April sale two months ago of £11,600. The 1965 Anniversary Malt at £3500; the Annie Leibovitz Masters of Photography at £4000 and the Private Eye at £3200 were just a few of the universally impressive results for this zeitgeist distillery.
However, perhaps more interesting and illuminating was the Bowmore 1969 Fecchio & Frassa single cask which finished up at £7600. A deeply impressive result which builds on sister cask 6639 which we sold in November last year for £5500. The desire to posses these legendary and rare old bottlings of incredible whisky is skyrocketing just now, but likewise the knowledge and understanding of these whiskies is also becoming more widespread.
Also interesting was the Glen Grant 10 year old bottled in the 1960s by Peatling & Cawdron. An extremely rare and interesting example of the old classic Glen Grant labelling which fetched a whopping £2600. Not so long ago bottlings such as this one very rarely went outside the £400-600 range. This is a good example of how desirability is beginning to step outside the more obvious distilleries as knowledge and understanding of these old rarities increases across a wider range of wealthy buyers.
There were a few interesting Ardbeg results such as the 1974 single cask 5666 for £1950 – suddenly the £500 retail price in Oddbins doesn’t seem quite so steep. Then there was the 1966 Cadenhead 32 year old Ardbeg for £1800. Both these bottlings – amongst others – seem to have been at this price point for a while now. It’s likely we’ll soon see these sorts of Ardbegs jump up another level in value I suspect.
The old Andrew Usher Green Stripe from around 1900 hit a very respectable £1650. It’s always a pleasure to find bottles such as this one – true pieces of liquid history help brighten any whisky auction. Other notable four figure results were the Rare Malts 1977 Brora at an unusually impressive £1300. And, in what is likely the most expensive Pittyvaich ever, the 1974 26 year old single cask by Kingsbury fetched a mighty £1250. Every distillery has its legendary bottling and this, unequivocally, is Pittyvaich’s.
At this level of the sale almost everything performed toward the upper end of its market value, although the Talisker 1952 21 year old for £875 did seem like something of a bargain. Goes to show they can still happen even in today’s heady climate.
Other notable results around this end of the auction were the Gilbey’s Redbreast 10 year old from the 1960s for £550 – although interest in older Irish Whiskeys is only bound to increase these days. A pair of 1980 Dailuaine Flora & Fauna cask strengths for £525 each. And a 1930s Gilbey’s Spey Royal blend for £500, this isn’t normally a brand that commands too much at auction but this beautiful old example clearly got bidders interested. Surprising that it edged the 1950s Logan’s at £450. Macallan madness was also alive at this end of the sale as well with old examples of 10 and 12 year olds from the 1990s fetching £430 and £450 respectively. Brand power? Or just plain daftness? Time will tell…
Looking for bargains and once again there are slim pickings. A Glenlivet 1970 Duncan Taylor 39 year old looks pretty tasty at £290 – especially when a 1990s litre of Scapa 10 year old fetched £300! And a Balvenie 1974 15 year old by Signatory was a snip at £220. Although bargain of the sale should probably go to the Talisker 1979 21 year old Cadenhead for £215. But by and large most bottles hit or surpassed their market value. In fact, if this kind of sale proves anything, it is that the notion of a ‘market value’ in an increasingly brief, tenuous and unreliable concept in this day and age of whisky auctioneering. We bid in interesting times no doubt.
Fathers Day is upon us once again, and after Christmas it’s the biggest weekend of the year in the world of whisky. Across the country, happy Dads will be receiving bottles of whisky on Sunday 17th June, so here at Whisky-Online we’ve made a little guide with some great Fathers Day Whisky Offers to help make sure you get your Dad the right thing this year.
First up, for Dads who like a lighter style of whisky, we’ve got the Auchentoshan American Oak. This replaced the old Auchentoshan Classic a few years ago and it’s a light, easy-drinking intro to Lowland single malt, as well as being a perfect example of young, fresh bourbon cask-matured whisky. For Fathers Day, we’ve slashed the price by a huge £14 from £34.95 to £20.95 – and there’s even a free Auchentoshan glass included!
At the other end of the spectrum, for Dads who like big flavours and high strength whiskies, we’ve got a Fathers Day offer of £5 off the Speyburn 2006 Cask Strength bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. This one is from a refill sherry butt – and from the deep colour, we’d guess this was a pretty active cask. It’s a classic sherry profile: rich and full, with fruit cake, demerara sugar and spices, and it’s been bottled at a chunky 59.2%. This is a steal at just £46.95.
Lots of Dads like peaty, smoky whisky and we’ve got a pair of malts on offer that fit that particular bill. First up is the old favourite Big Peat from indie bottlers Douglas Laing. Big Peat is an Islay blended malt containing whisky from several Islay distillers including Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila and, remarkably, Port Ellen, so if your Dad (or you!) haven’t tried it, now is a great time to rectify that – it’s reduced by £5 from £35.95 to £30.95.
The other peated malt we’ve got on offer is slightly left of centre – it’s from Speyside rather than Islay. Benriach have been making peated malt alongside their standard drams since 1983, and this release has been fully matured in quarter casks, allowing the oak more influence in less time. Benriach Peated Quarter Cask is also reduced by £5 for Fathers Day, from £49 down to £44.
Finally, for Dads who are fans of rich, smooth whiskies, we’ve got a pair of Glenfiddichs on Special Offer for Fathers Day. The 18 year old and 21 year old are the pick of the Glenfiddich range, with the 18 year old being a good soft, contemplative dram and the 21 year old a great after-dinner malt thanks to an extra layer of sweetness afforded by a finishing period in rum casks. The Glenfiddich 18 Year Old comes with two glasses in a special gift pack and a hefty £8 Fathers Day discount brings the price down from £68.95 to £60.95, while the Glenfiddich 21 Year Old comes in a handsome gift box and has been reduced by a whopping £19 to £110.
Andrew Usher & Co. Edinburgh
Green Stripe early 20th century
From time to time we come across truly magical whiskies from eras that are long lost and whether they’re single malts or blends, they’re all worth getting excited about.
This bottle was purchased in 1914 by the vendors Grandfather (A Worcestershire farmer 1876 – 1960) at the beginning of the first World War with the intention of opening it to celebrate the end, which came in 1918. He never ended up drinking the whisky but instead passed it down to his son (Also a Worcestershire farmer). Again he never found the time to drink the whisky and consequently passed it down the his daughter, the current owner of the bottle. It has been sat in a cupboard in her home in Worcestershire until recently when Wayne I consigned the bottle for auction.
”I remember it sitting in the Cupboard waiting for a Suitable Event that would Warrant opening it!! I think that now, that decision maybe left to Another to choose the Occasion?”
Relics like this don’t turn up in auction often, especially with such precise provenance. Bottles like this deserve spot light in a museum or opened and shared with good friends. Either way we know this bottle will go to a good home with one of our bidders.
This is definitely one to look out for and one we’ve never seen in our auction before. A 1963 Ardbeg bottled in 1994 by Gordon & MacPhail for their Connoisseurs Choice Map label. We’re seeing less & less off these older 1960s distillate Ardbeg’s in auction and this is mainly down to their reputation of being absolutely spectacular whiskies.
Joining the 1963 Connoisseurs Choice Ardbeg is this 1966 32 year old. A single cask from Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection with the Chairman’s Stock Gold Seal; This gives you and idea they were impressed with his whisky when they bottled it – This will be equally as good and you could argue harder to find with only 120 bottles produced.
By far my favourite bottle in this months auction. We collected this from the vendors house in Chiddingfold. We’ve never come across this one under the Peatling & Cawdron label before and we’re excited to see what interest it creates.
Peatling & Cawdron is one of many business established by Thomas Peatling, a wine and spirits agent dating back to 1826. In 1988 Peatling & Cawdron was incorporated with several other small businesses before reverting to its original name of Thos. Peatling.
We have even more old blends avalible in our May auction. You will find numerous examples from White Horse, Black & White, Johnnie Walker, Haig & Logans. Along side these brands you will also find a very interesting 1930s Gilbey’s Spey-Royal. This will contain a high proportion of malt distilled at the Glen Spey distillery. Like many of the blends bottled before the war, the malt contributed was much more concentrated and often peaty. These make for fascinating drinking sessions and often the only way to experience the flavour profile of a distillery from this period is through blends like this.
With the hype of the official opening of the new (£140m) Macallan distillery, it would be rude not to share a few highlights from their old stock that are avalible in our May auction.
Macallan in 1996
In nineteen ninety six Macallan produced two iconic whiskies and arguably two of the most collectable whiskies every produced. The Macallan Private Eye, bottled in 1996 for the 35th anniversary of the magazine. The whisky is a vatting of several casks including a 1961 vintage to represent the year the magazine was founded. The very catching screen printed label was designed by Ralph Steadman, a freelance illustrator for the magazine. At the time of release they decided to keep the price of the whisky in theme with the occasion and therefore sold them for £35. To put things into perspective the p&p was £6.95. The Nicol’s Nectar is another classic collectable Macallan and is somewhat rarer than the Private Eye. Produced for the occasion of Peter Nicol’s retirement from the office. The label was drawn by artist Colin Rizza who has created numerous labels for the distillery. These were never sold publicly but instead given to everyone who worked at the distillery at the time. From a close and very reliable source approximately only 120 bottles were produced.
Experience Macallan ten, through the decades
We have a run of 10-year-olds bottled from the seventies through to the noughties. This would make a great line-up for anyone planning a whisky tasting and would given those attending a much clearer understanding of how the profiles of the same whisky can changes over many decades.
The Masters Of Photography by Rankin is a series of 1,000 bottles and unique portraits taken by Rankin on the Macallan estate that heavily features Easter Elchies House. Most will agree the best portraits include the nude shots of Tuuli, Rankin’s inspiration and wife. Each piece is presented with the original Polaroid that is depicted on the bottle of 30 year old with a booklet telling the story and Rankin’s signature to certify it’s an original.
”This project is very special to me for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve been able to come back to the country of my birth and portray its beauty through one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever attempted. The second reason is that this collection marks the full stop after Polaroid, as we head into the digital age.”
The Masters Of Photography by Annie Leibowizs is a set of four single cask Macallan that feature the actor Kevin McKidd. The scenes include The Library, The Skyline, The Bar & The Gallery. Within the whole series there were 1000 bottles produced. The library edition has the smallest outrun with only 145 bottles, the other three in this series yielded 285 bottles making The Library edition the rarest of the four bottlings. Taking this into account means there were only 145 possible complete sets available Worldwide.