March Auction Highlights

This month’s sale is completely rammed with quality whiskies from all regions of Scotland. We will start off with just a few highlights that deserve to be mentioned on their own.

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The Macallan 50-year-old in Lalique, the highlight of any sale and surprisingly the first time we have had the pleasure of auctioning such a precious showpiece. Released back in 2006 this is the first release in an epic series of modern masterpieces which remains the ultimate in prestige and one of the best Macallan’s ever bottled.

Macallan 50 Year OldKaruizawa 1964 - 48 Year Old - Wealth Solutions

A more recent release is the 1964 Karuizawa; Bottled in 2012 for Polish collectors & investment company Wealth Solutions. Cask 3603, a 48-year-old is one of the oldest Japanese single malt whiskies in history. The whisky originates from one of the last casks from the 1960s made in the closed Japanese Karuizawa distillery.

Black Bowmores

The elite of sherry matured whisky! ”Black Bowmore” – notorious for their almost coal-black appearance and unrivalled profile. Instantly a legend when first released back in 1993. All four expressions have continued to climb in both price and rarity over the past 20+ years and have surpassed all expectations. With only one of each expressions appearing in our auction in 2016, it goes to show how scares these legendary whiskies are getting.

Speyside has the greatest number of distilleries of any of the whisky-producing areas of Scotland and therefore we see a high number of bottles from these regions. One of the highest concentrations of bottles in this sale from Speyside is Macallan. We have the likes of the legendary over 50-year-old which is widely regarded as one of the most significant bottlings in the history of Scottish malt whisky. The whisky is composed of three casks distilled between 1926 and 1928, making the whisky in fact 55 years old at least. The naturally low cask strength of 38.6% (77 proof), one of very few bottling’s ever to be released beneath the standard filling strength of 40%. Over the years this whisky has acquired a reputation as one of the greatest ever bottled, however, there are so few people who have tasted it that it remains one of the most sought after bottling’s in the world today. Alongside this, you with find an extremely rare 1949 Macallan produced for a private company in Japan. Drawn from the cask at 40.25% after spending 50 years maturing in a single sherry cask. Only 160 of these 8 sided Baccarat Crystal decanters were filled in 1999. Sticking with long aged Macallan we have the 1946 52-year-old and the 1948 51-year-old. Elsewhere and not to be sniffed at is the likes of a 1938 & 1950 Hand Written labels by Rinaldi and a whole host of various single casks and vintage releases that are too long to mention. Other great releases from Speyside include several single cask Glenfiddich’s from 1965, 1968 & 1975. A 1959, 1967 and 30-year-old Glenlivet’s from their Cellar Collection as well as the 20cl Vintage set that includes a 1967, 1967, 1969, 1970 and a 1972.

Moving onto Highland and we have a 35-year-old Brora from 2013 and a couple of the 30-year-olds from 2009 & 2010. Glenmorangie is represented well with two 1963s, two 1971 Culloden’s and a great selection of their early wood finishes. Balblair see’s a handful of vintages from 20052009 and a 33-year-old we haven’t sold since early 2014. Old Pulteney welcomes back the 40-year-old and so does Glenury Royal for the 36-year-old bottled in 2007 for Diageo’s Special Releases. Last but no means least from the Highlands is the all-time great Royal Brackla 60-year-old distilled in 1924: presented to dignitaries in 1991 to celebrate the reopening of the distillery. Only 62 bottles are believed to have been bottled! This is a bona fide fruit bomb and although bottled at 40% still holds all its minerals after so many years in the bottle.For the few Island distilleries, we have a beast of a Talisker distilled in 1955 and bottled in 1993 by Gordon & MacPhail. A 20-year-old Highland Park bottled in 2003 for their cask strength collection. These were available exclusively through the distilleries visitors centre. A 1974 Ledaig bottled in 1990 by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and a first distillation from Arran.

Finally, we meet with Islay; if not the most popular region in Scotland that produces some of the most desirable whiskies in the world. Our personal favourite is Bowmore, in particular, the Bicentenary bottled in 1979 which is composed of casks distilled in the 1950s through to the 1960s. Over to Ardbeg from 1950s distillate, you will find two slightly different official 12-year-olds bottled in the 1960s and a super sexy 1967 single cask bottled by Signatory from a dark Oloroso sherry cask. Along with these, you will find many excellent expressions from Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Kilchoman & Port Ellen.

March Auction Highlights

As always all bottles will start off at £10 with no reserves set meaning every bid is a potential winning bid.

All the best from all of us here at Whisky Online Auctions.

 

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Old & Rare Whisky Show – Glasgow 2017

Whisky-Online Auctions made our first ever official appearance at a whisky festival recently, with a stand at the inaugural Old & Rare Whisky Show in Glasgow.  The show took place in the city’s Grand Central Hotel, which has recently undergone an extremely painstaking (read: expensive and time-consuming) facelift to restore it to its former glory.

https://whiskyshow.com/glasgow/exhibitors/6971/whisky-online-auctions/

WhiskyShow-old&rare2

So it was that on the Saturday and Sunday of 18th-19th February a total of around 700 committed whisky devotees flowed into the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, a beautiful high-ceilinged, multi-chandeliered space, to partake in some of the finest, oldest and rarest drams ever assembled in the UK.  The £100 ticket price seems expensive but becomes an amazing deal when one takes into account that this includes your first £50 of whisky tokens to spend at the stands.

As it was their debut event, Wayne and Harrison Ormerod from Whisky-Online were determined to impress the crowds with their drams. To that end, they put together an absolutely stellar line-up of whiskies for visitors to try. Wayne and Harrison were joined on the stand by whisky writer Tim Forbes for a bit of experienced help.

Old & Rare Whisky Show Dram List

The format of the show was very simple – all the exhibitors’ drams were sold in measures of 1cl (10ml), payable in either tokens or cash.  This system has many benefits – it encourages responsible drinking, visitors can try many more whiskies without becoming inebriated and it brings the price of the most expensive drams down so that visitors can taste whiskies at a level they might not normally be able to afford. The exhibitors really played their part as well, with some very sensible (even generous) pricing on a range of to-die-for whiskies.

Prices on the Whisky-Online Auctions stand started at just £3 for a range of cracking drams from the 1980s and earlier – standout drams included a heavily-sherried Macallan 12yo OB litre bottle from the 1980s and a pair of 12yo OB Obans, one bottled late 1970s and one just after the metric labels came into force at the beginning of the 1980s.  Along with some 1970s Glen Grant square bottles these saw plenty of action throughout the show.

Getting into the more serious stuff, the stand also had a very rare blend – a black-and-gold label Old Vatted Glenlivet estimated to have been bottled around the 1930s, priced at just £10 for 1cl.  This one became more and more popular as the show went on and word got out about it.  Also at this price was a ‘secret’ Bowmore 1961 bottled in 1974 for Berry Bros. & Rudd, a very gentle, tropical dram.

Moving up another level to around £16-20 per dram and now the customers were really spoiled with a series of very rare single malts.  These included a pair of Highland Parks: the spectacular 1955 G&M Cask and a 1961 22yo bottled for Duthie – even Serge Valentin hadn’t seen this one before.  There was also the famous 1971 Glen Garioch bottled for Oddbins in the 1990s, which was a steal for just £16.

The most popular dram at this price range, though, was the mysterious Springbank 20yo ‘Dell Fines’ – a really brilliant spirit-led dram distilled at some point during the golden period from mid-1960s to early 1970s.  No-one really knows anything about this dram, other than it was probably bottled in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and only two bottles have ever turned up on the market – one of which was now open.

Fortunately, the quality of the whisky was certainly never in doubt – it was truly extraordinary and the punters were soon flocking to the stand to try it. Opening this bottle was a real brainwave by the boys, and at £20 for a 1cl dram it represented an amazing opportunity for the show visitors, especially as the only other known bottle is retailing at £2000 elsewhere.

Finally to the Whisky-Online Auction’s two absolute ne plus ultra-highlights at the show: The Brora 40yo, which was going for £110 per cl; and the 1967 Largiemeanoch 12yo at £200 a measure.  The Brora 40yo was very popular, and it wasn’t hard to see why – this was a famously high-scoring dram and remains the oldest official Brora ever released.  The large square crystal decanter looked very impressive on the Whisky-Online Auction stand (although it was so chunky that pouring accurately without spilling was rather difficult), and just about everyone who bought a dram was taking pictures of the bottle to show their friends back home.

As for the Largiemeanoch, well… the word ‘legendary’ gets overused a lot but this is a truly legendary whisky.  Bottled, possibly by Cadenhead’s, for the Howgate Wine Co. at the end of the 1970s, Largiemeanoch 12yo is a mix of three consecutive casks bottled at 54.2% and is now regarded by many cognoscenti not only as one of the best Bowmores ever bottled, but also one of the greatest ever single malts. It’s a brilliant fusion of heavy phenolic and massively intense tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Truly breathtaking stuff.

Famously, this bottling received 97 points on Whiskyfun, and it was clear at the show that its reputation had preceded it.  There was the group of Dutch whisky enthusiasts who had bought tickets and flown over to the show specifically to taste it, and who insisted on having their pictures taken caressing it behind the stand; there was the customer who bought ten measures of it right at the start of the show to take back for his friends in Singapore; and there was the Asian man who, unable to attend the show himself, had bought his girlfriend a ticket and sent her in with a list of whiskies to buy, with the Brora and Largiemeanoch top of the list.

Special mention, however, goes to the unsuspecting fellow who misread the price ticket and ordered a dram of Largiemeanoch believing it to be £20.  After the whisky was poured he was understandably taken aback when asked for another £180, but to his eternal credit he took a sniff of the whisky and then marched straight to an ATM for the rest of the money. We can only doff our caps to him, and hope that his wife didn’t find out.

Over the course of the show over half the bottle of Largiemeanoch was sold, and there were several visitors trying (unsuccessfully) to buy the remains of both the Brora and the Largie at the end of the event. Wayne and Harrison couldn’t be tempted, though – they must have a plan for it.

Overall, the show was a great experience for the Whisky-Online Auction team and there’s no doubt that their whiskies made a lot of lucky visitors very happy. Mission accomplished, and hopefully that’s the first of many successful events for the team.

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February 2017 Auction Results

One of the continuing trends in last night’s auction was the new trading levels of older, high-end Macallans. The Fine & Rare series continues to strengthen at auction with results of £10,600 and £8200 for the 1965 and 1971 respectively. Similarly the 1938 handwritten label – a bottle that has been static around the £5000 mark for quite some time – took a step higher again up to £6000. Other impressive prices at the top of the sale included the Laphroaig 1960 for Oddbins with a whopping £5900 hammer price, the Highland Park 1958 with a very healthy £2800 and a Macallan Royal Marriage for £2700.

Macallan-Auction-Result

But it wasn’t just the expected heavy hitters. Increasingly we’re seeing the old and rare whiskies creeping into the very upper levels of the auction, bottles which, until recently, might not have gone into four figures at all. The Springbank 1965 Cadenhead White Label series fetched a cool £2450 and the Talisker 1957 100 proof £2250, both showing just how intense the competition and desire for these magnificent liquids are becoming these days.

The rest of the upper end of the auction was the same story of consistency and top end market value for most of the bottles. There was an impressive selection of Macallan and looking over all the various vintages and expressions so regularly seen at auction now, what strikes is just how many of these bottles have moved from the £700-1000 mark into the £1500-2000 bracket over the past year. Will this pace continue of will we see a plateau effect for a while?

Some other impressive results for older bottlings were the Macallan As We Get It 1960s bottling which finished up at £1200. Demand for older examples of this series seems to be going up and up these days. Similarly an old example of Ainslie’s King’s Legend (a Clynelish heavy blend) from around 1930 with a spring cap settled on a muscular £1250. As knowledge about old blends and their constituent malts has proliferated in recent years we’ve seen a remarkable corresponding jump in their prices at auction.

The thirst for old Midleton bottlings continues unabated with a 1987 example hitting £1100. The Laphroaig Cairdeas 30 year old passed the £1000 mark with a hammer price of £1050 and the Bowmore 1972 and Glen Moray 1959 distillery releases settled comfortably on £1000 apiece.

Midleton Auction Results

Moving down through the sale there were strong results for the scarcely seen Balblair 1951 private bottling at £900, the Bowmore 1980 Still Decanter at £925, the Glenmorangie 1993 Truffle Oak at £875, the Lochside 1965 46-year-old by Adelphi at £775. And a 1977 30-year-old Macallan by Douglas Laing and the Laphroaig 13-year-old festival bottling both at £750 look like quite remarkable prices for these bottlings.

It seems that it isn’t only the upper-end Macallans that are hitting new trading levels, but their midrange bottlings have all moved up a notch as well. The NAS Cask Strength bottling from the early 2000s hit a whopping £750, the 1990 15-year-old Easter Elchies hit £725 and the 2011 Easter Elchies hit £900! It wasn’t just Macallan though, there was a whole host of bottlings going for what some might call ‘crazy money’. Another Midleton – the 1991 bottling this time – finished up at £725, a Glendullan 1967 32 year old by Cadenheads hit a remarkable £700 (you could buy these at auction for £200-300 quite recently) as did the Ardbeg 1998 – 2011 Festival release. All quite remarkable prices. Perhaps less surprisingly a Brora 1972 cask end fetched £625.

Looking through the sale from the mid-range down there are very few bargains. A 1966 Dalwhinnie at £410 seems like a decent price but not by much, as does the Glenrothes 1972 and 1984 vintage pair for the same amount. Some of the old Gordon & MacPhail Strathislas and Glen Grants for under the £250 mark finished up at very drinkable prices.

In conclusion, though, it was a hugely impressive sale. One that cements new trading levels for numerous Macallans as well as many bottles which, as recently as last year, could be picked up for a few hundred pounds less. There were a few ‘bargains’ around the lower-mid ends of the sale but by and large it was a consistent and impressive slew of results.

 

February auction highlights

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