February whisky auction Highlights

Welcome to our February auction.

This month brings another great selection of bottles to the market and continues to showcase some wonderful examples from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society – the highlight of which this month is undoubtedly the stunning 26 Malts set. Only 20 of these were ever produced as complete sets and this one is in near pristine condition. Featuring 26 wonderful single cask malts presented beautifully through unique individual collaborations of artists and writers, this set is rarely seen at auction now so don’t miss this opportunity to snap it up.

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Undeniably though, there is one major highlight of this auction which stands out above all others: the Port Ellen 12 year old bottled for the Queen’s visit in August 1980. This is the first example to see auction since 2013 and remains in remarkably good condition with the original presentation box and an unmoved filling level. The highest ever scoring whisky on Whiskyfun at 99/100, the only known bottling of Port Ellen produced while the distillery was active and the only known example of Port Ellen distilled in 1967. All in all a totally spectacular, historic and highly desirable bottle. This near perfect example marks an exceptionally rare opportunity to acquire this bottle at auction.

There is plenty more to get excited about in this auction though. Laphroaig 40 year old, Brora 1972 Rare Malts 60.02%, the exceptionally rare Dallas Dhu 1970 Rare Malts 59.91%. We have both the 1973 Springbank ‘Green label’ Rum Butt bottlings by Cadenheads, along with a 1966 Local Barley, a 1965 Murray McDavid Springbank 30 year old for the USA and great condition example of the 21 year old Springbank bottled in the late 1980s. There’s a 1957 Glen Grant Cadenhead dumpy, six bottles of the new Lagavulin 1990 25 year old Syndicate bottling, A Glen Garioch 1965 and 1968 and a beautiful 1936 43 year old Mortlach Connoisseur’s Choice.

For Japanese whisky lovers we have Karuizawa 1981 cask 4943 of which only 119 bottles were released, Karuizawa 1984 cask 5410 from the Artifices series and a gorgeous looking single cask 20 year old Yoichi bottled exclusively for distillery visitors only. There’s also a Yamazaki 1990 single cask, the incredibly inviting 1979 Yamazaki SMWS 119.2 and the Chichi ePower double cask bottling.

We have a return appearance from the Johnnie Walker 2013 Director’s Blend, a Longrow 1974 18 year old, four bottles of 1975 Dom Perignon for you Champagne lovers and for Bourbon fanatics a 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle and a Hirsch 1974 16 year old.

Other SMWS highlights from this sale are the exceedingly rare 1966 Ardbeg 33.13, the two full festival sets 2006 and 2007. The 1977 Brora 61.12, the 1963 Glenfarclas 1.96, the 1969 Strathisla 58.5 and the Glen Keith 1968 81.3. There are two more St Magdalene 1975 49.1s, a 1981 Rosebank 25.26 and 1972 Glen Grant 9.30. These are just a few of the numerous old examples from the SMWS that are in this sale, there’s just no room to list them all here so you’ll have to dive in and have a look for yourself.

Other tasty and notable bottles include a gorgeous 45 year old Glen Grant bottled in the 1980s by G&M along with a 1946 41 year old MacPhails, a 1970 100 Proof Talisker, a 1970 Glenlochy Silent Stills, a 1980s Ardbeg 10 year old and literally hundreds of bottles of terrific old and rare drinking and collectable whisky. Dive in, enjoy and happy bidding!

The Whisky Online Auctions team

Whisky Auction Highlights

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Legendary Port Ellen Goes Under the Hammer

Every auctioneer has their dream bottles that they’d just kill to find for auction. Every so often one such bottle shows up here at Whisky Online Auctions, this time it’s one we’ve been after for a long time: the Port Ellen 12-year-old bottled for the Queen’s visit to the distillery in August 1980.

There’s so much that is special about this bottling, it was the first and only bottling – official or independent – of Port Ellen released during the distillery’s short second lifespan between 1967-1983. There were very few bottles ever created, just enough to present to the Queen, some SMD manager’s and members of the local council who were present at the occasion.

It has always been a desirable bottle but last year its legend went up another level thanks to a rather crazy whisky tour in February 2015, which I helped organise, where one of these bottles was opened. The bottle was opened in the old Malt Mill at Lagavulin Distillery and tasted by everyone on the tour and various members of staff. It became – and remains – the highest ever scoring whisky on Whiskyfun.com with an immense score of 99/100. Having been fortunate enough to taste it on two separate occasions now, I can confirm that the whisky is indeed truly remarkable and quite breathtaking.

The liquid itself is unique as well as it is the only known bottled example of Port Ellen from its first year of production in 1967. The whisky is a vatting of spirit from two refill hogsheads. It was selected and drawn at the time by legendary warehouseman Iain ‘Pinky’ McArthur who confirms that it was from 1967. The strength remains unknown, but from my conversations with Iain he recalls that it was bottled at cask strength, without dilution. Having tasted it, the whisky is certainly well above the usual 40-43% range.

Port Ellen 12 year old
Port Ellen 12 year old bottled for the Queen’s visit to the distillery in August 1980.

This particular example we have in our February auction is in wonderful condition. The level of the whisky is excellent, virtually unmoved from its original filling level and it also retains its original box and stopper. The bottle comes from an ex-SMD staff member who was present for the Queen’s visit and has kept the bottle ever since.

This really is a special bottling for us and a rare opportunity to acquire this whisky at auction. This bottling is now no longer available from any retailer and is exceedingly difficult to obtain – it could be a long time before another one of this provenance and quality appears on the market again.

Auction Starts Wednesday 24th February 8 pm GMT  – Register Now

 

 

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January Whisky Auction Results

Undoubtedly the most fascinating aspect of our most recent auction was the rather beautiful collection of SMWS bottles up for grabs.

This is the second fairly sizeable collection of SMWS bottlings we’ve uncovered over the years – the last one being back in our Christmas sale in 2013/2014. So, almost exactly two years later, it’s interesting to see how the appetite for old SMWS bottlings remains potent and undimmed. A slew of record prices were achieved and there was fierce bidding competition throughout the whole sale, not just during the last hour of the auction.

SMWS Highlights

The understandable highlights were the Brora 1976 61.1, the Ardbeg 1975 33.2 and the Lomond 1972 98.1. The last time we sold the Brora 61.1 was in our December 2014 sale, back then it fetched a healthy £1400. This time its price doubled to a remarkable £2800, this is quite impressive when you consider that the bottle was available on a retail site for £2750, once you include the buyer fees that takes it to £3276, that’s over £500 more than the retail price. This just goes to show the power that auctions hold when two very determined buyers end up slugging it out over a bottle they both desperately want.

Likewise the Ardbeg 33.2 sold for an impressive £2450, despite a poor condition label, once again proving that the value of so many of these older SMWS bottlings is very much in the number and the liquid. It also says a lot about the sheer scarcity of early SMWS Ardbeg bottlings.

The Lomond 1972 98.1 sold for £1800, perhaps slightly more predictable when you consider this is one of just two extant bottlings of this hyper-scarce single malt – both of which have been bottled by the SMWS. It was still another record price of this bottling though.

Karuizawa 1984 - 28 Year Old - SMWS 132.1 - Graph
Karuizawa 1984 – 28 Year Old – SMWS 132.1 – Bottle Performance (January 2014 – February 2016)

Despite the general slump in Karuizawa prices at the moment the Japanese SMWS bottlings showed remarkable buoyancy as well with some serious new records being achieved. The Karuizawa 132.1 hit £1450, the Yamazaki 119.1 £1400, the Yoichi 116.1 £1100 and the Hakushu 120.1 £1050. Another impressive result was the Laphroaig 1975 29.3 at £1000, this is doubly impressive when you consider that two of these bottles sold in one lot at Bonhams back in 2013 for £1000, and that price includes their rather hefty commission. The Lagavulin 1980 111.1 – another greatly sought after rarity – was also impressive with a final hammer price of £925.

Further down the auction, other SMWS.1 editions achieved impressive new records. St Magdalene 1975 49.1: £825. Banff 1978 67.1: £700. Glenugie 1978 99.1: £625. Old Fettercairn 1969 94.1: £625. Glenlochy 1976 62.1: £600. All in all, a super successful sale for old SMWS bottlings, the demand for these is huge at the moment so if you are sitting on a stash of old SMWS bottlings then it may well be worth getting in touch…

Elsewhere in the auction there were plenty other juicy results. A pair of 1981 18 year old Macallans hit an impressive £600 each, a pair of Macallan 30 year old Fine Oaks fetched £1250 each and a Glen Grant 1949 went for £775, further evidence of the increased interest in these wonderful old G&M vintage malts.

Elements of Islay

Perhaps some of the most astonishing results were for the Elements of Islay series, the Kilchoman sold for £430 and the Bunnahabhain sold for a fantastic £700! These were not expensive bottles upon release and there were not particularly limited either. It’s unlikely those kinds of prices are sustainable but it does go to show, if you’ve got bottles from a collectable series that haven’t seen auction for quite some time, selling one can sometimes yield an incredible return. Once again, probably worth having a rummage at home…

All in all this was an exciting and fascinating auction that provided an excellent barometer of market demand for rare and high quality old whisky – especially those bottlings from the SMWS. Unlike a lot of other bottlings a sizeable proportion of bottlings in this sale were bottles that haven’t seen auction for a long time. The resulting high prices and consistent competition throughout the week of the sale show that – for the right bottles – there continues to be significant market demand.

 


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