Our first auction of 2017 was another sale with a 100% sale rate and a string of impressive results. The top lot was a full case of 12 Macallan Private Eyes. With a hammer price of £21,000 that makes the price of each bottle around the top end of the current market value. It is often a subject of some debate as to whether – on the very rare occasions when they turn up – a full case sells better as a single lot or as separate lots. Judging by this result the seller saved themselves a small bundle of lotting fees and netted pretty much top market value on a per-bottle basis. Not bad for a whisky that initially cost £35 back in 1996.
Equally impressive was the Black Bowmore 42-year-old which hit a new record of £10,100, passing the five-figure threshold for the first time. It will be interesting to see if this represents a new base price for this bottling. Especially as there has since been a 5th release of 50-year-old Black Bowmore. Completists will have their work cut out for this series it now seems.
Co-incidentally the much sought after Macallan 1948 also saw another record result with an identical hammer price of £10,100, again the first time this bottle has crossed the five-figure mark. Once again we’ll have to see if this is a spike or a new trading level. Given the hunger for these old Macallan’s, it seems inevitable that this bottling will soon be trading above the £10,000 mark quite consistently. The fact that the 1969 Fine & Rare Macallan hit £9,500 would suggest all the high-end official Macallans are about to undergo something of a price hike.
Elsewhere around the top end of the sale Gold and White Bowmore both hit a comfortable £6100 a piece – further highlighting the unique allure of ‘Black’ Bowmore. The Glenury Royal 50-year-old hit an impressive £4100, further cementing it as the king of the Special Releases series. The Clynelish Royal Marine hotel showed that, even with a loss of filling level, these legendary bottlings still command strong interest with a hammer price of £3900.
Other impressive prices were achieved by the Macallan 1963 Anniversary Malt – one of the rarest vintages in this series – with a hammer price of £3200. The great Highland Park 1958 40-year-old with £3100 and the Johnnie Walker Epic Dates 1920 edition also showed that this most iconic of blended whiskies still has a potent fan base.
In terms of old and rare bottlings in the upper ends of the sale the Caol Ila 12-year-old by James MacArthur really shone with a hammer price of £2800 – far outstripping previous prices for this bottle which have been around the £800-1000 mark. With 96 points on Whiskyfun this is indeed legendary liquid and a good barometer of just how intense the demand for these old glories is nowadays.
The Bruichladdich 1964 40-year-old saw another record tumble with an impressive hammer price of £2400, great to see this long underrated bottling finally getting the attention it deserves. Macallan really dominated a lot of the upper end of this sale, the 1963 official vintage bottling hit £1900 – not that long ago you could pick these up for £600-800.
There has been a raft of old Gordon & MacPhail 100 proof Taliskers hitting the market in recent months and they’ve been achieving some impressive prices, demand for these glorious old whiskies is potent at the moment. The 1964 and 1967 editions in last night’s sale hit £1250 and £1100 respectively. Another bottling we’ve seen a lot of has been the Cadenhead Uitvlugt long aged rums, all of which have been achieving impressive prices, the even rarer 1964 36-year-old hit a remarkable £1050 though, appetite for rum is increasing all the time so it will be interesting to see how these high-end examples continue to perform this year at auction.
The Bunnahabhain Auld Acquaintance hit £925, it won’t be long before this great bottling creeps past the £1000 mark. Glenfarclas also continued to show signs of its increasing muscle at auction as a 12-year-old Pinerolo bottling from the 1970s hit an impressive £750. Likewise, a 12-year-old 1980s Lagavulin hit £700, again you wonder how long it will be before these bottles are up around the £1000 mark. A name you don’t hear a lot about at auction is Miltonduff, but four beautiful old examples – two old official 13-year-olds from the 1960s and two 20-year-old cask strength versions for Forth Wines – all hit £550 and £525. These could be picked up for a quarter of this price a few years back. It just goes to show, beautiful whiskies from any distillery are starting to gain increasing recognition as awareness and education of old bottles spreads.
Other notable prices from above the £100 threshold were a beautiful thistle label 10-year-old Glen Grant by Gordon & MacPhail at £360, not long ago these were £150 or less. A 10-year-old Talisker from the 1990s for £130 seems like something of a spike. And a number of other old Glen Grants from the 1970s seem a little like bargains at under £200. It was also good to see some very old Madeiras and some rather tasty vintage wines fetching decent prices.
There were plenty rather juicy bottles in the lower-mid ranges of this sale that all look like fair market value for collectors and drinkers alike. Which is encouraging for those of us trying to buy for drinking, work or just plain old curiosity and enjoyment. Not to mention potential bargains for investment. In general, the story of this sale though was of some remarkable new records at the top, strong top market prices in the mid-range and a good mix of results around the lower levels of the sale. All in all, healthy and impressive. A good start to the year from multiple perspectives.
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