Port Charlotte 2004. Bourbon Cask Up For Auction

After last month’s rather staggering success of the two 1993 Macallan casks, we’re delighted to have another very interesting and desirable bonded cask of whisky up for auction. This time it’s a 2004 Port Charlotte. These Port Charlottes were sold back in 2001 – 2005 for what now looks like bargain basement prices. Very few of them have sold on the secondary ‘open’ market before, with most of the cask sales taking place privately before now. So this should be an interesting experiment to find mature, bonded Port Charlotte’s current market value. Below is my assessment of the cask’s current qualities. The sample tasted was drawn from the cask’s most recent gaging.

Port-charlotte-cask Auction Lot and Certificate

Port Charlotte 2004. Cask 969. Bourbon. Tasting Notes

Colour: Gold

Nose: Bonfire smoke, wood ash, lots of briny and dense coastal characteristics and tertiary notes of iodine, mercurochrome, TCP and ink. The medical and coastal characteristics are both powerful but in balance and the overall impression is one of good maturity and potency. This is a BIG Islay whisky. With a little breathing, there are some more typical farmyard aspects which I find typify many early 2000s Port Charlottes of this age. Notes of hay, silage, some drying seaweed, old rope and kelp. There is a sense of building and increasing complexity with time and air. With water: The farmyard aspects really come to dominate now. More earthiness, notes of bark, black olives and an eventual drift back towards medicine. Quite excellent!

Palate: The arrival is quite intense and brings with it a sense of incense and smouldering wood. This quickly passes to reveal some notes of lemon oil and lemon zest, vanilla cream, smoked fish and a broad spectrum of medical complexities. There is also an underlying spiciness that adds balance to the natural sweetness of the distillate. Overall the texture is quite fat and oily, there is a ‘meatiness’ about it which alludes to chewing smoked mussels in brine. With water: lemon juice, sea salt, fresh oysters and more of these briny aspects mixed with a nice olive oil quality. Perhaps some herbal aspects as well, suggestions of dried rosemary and more kelp notes.

Impressions: This is a well-matured Port Charlotte from a clean and nicely balanced cask which has matured the distillate well without ever overshadowing or dominating the spirit. There is a strong sense of distillery identity and a natural ‘charisma’ about the distillate. These triumvirate Port Charlotte qualities of seashore, medicine and farmyard are all present and nicely balanced which leads to a complex, intriguing and delicious dram. This could easily be bottled now but should also continue to improve quite comfortably for at least another 3-4 years in bond. I would expect it to show particularly well at around 18 – 20 years of age.

Port Charlotte 2004 - Cask 969 - Click Here

Auction Ends Wednesday 2nd August From 8 pm.

Any further queries please do not hesitate to ask.
Call: 01253 620 376  | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00 | Email: auctions@whisky-online.com



July Auction Highlights

Topping the bill in this months auction and featuring for the first time in a UK whisky auction is undoubtedly the rarest single cask Ardbeg ever released. Cask number 2742 is a 31-year-old Islay single malt distilled in what some describe as the epic year of 1974. A mere 36 bottles of this exquisite malt were bottled back in 2005 and distributed exclusively to hotel and bars only. As a result the majority of which were opened and sold by the dram only adds to its unique rarity.

Next up and what seem’s to be a bit of a welcoming trend is another whole cask except this time from Port Charlotte. The spirit was filled into cask 969, a fresh bourbon barrel in 2004 and has been lying in bond ever since. Most cask sales were taking place privately before now, so it will be interesting to see if current market value achieved in auction changes how cask owners sell their casks in the future.

Although it’s great to provide a varied selection of whiskies each month, Whisky Online Auctions ambition is to uncover at least one desirable whisky from bygone times each sale. And they don’t come much more desirable than this Clynelish from Cadenhead. Bottled in 1985 as a 20-year-old and distilled at the original pre-Brora Clynelish distillery in 1965 this is appreciated as one of the most beautiful whiskies ever bottled.

Also from these captivating and complex Highland distilleries, we have several examples from the Rare Malts series including a 1972 Clynelish at 61.3% and not one but three 1972 Brora bottled at 58.7%. In fact, Rare Malts is bursting at the seams in this sale with a whole host of fine examples such as Port Ellen, St Magdalene, Hillside, Glen Mhor, Millburn, Coleburn and the list goes on… You can view all Rare Malts in this sale HERE.

Highlights from the indies are a 30-year-old Macduff by James MacArthur, a 20-year-old Ledaig by Douglas Murdoch, a 1974 20-year-old Caol Ila by Hart Brothers, a 1977 20-year-old Convalmore by Cadenhead, a 1976 19-year-old Ardbeg by Adelphi, and appearing for the first time is a 1967 Laphroaig First Cask. Carrying on and you with find a 1976 24-year-old Pittyvaich by Blackadder, a 1981 18-year-old Lochside by Murray McDavid and a 1979 Highland Park by the SMWS.

From Signatory, we have several Silent Stills including Mosstowie, Glen Albyn & Glenugie and from Duncan Taylor, there’s a 1973 31-year-old Ayrshire and a 1969 35-year-old Kinclaith. Also appearing for the first time is a splendid 1955 Talisker from Gordon & MacPhail for their CASK series. We’ve not had this particular variation from cask 1315 at 50.4% but if it’s anything like other Taliskers from this period it should be an absolutely cracking dram.

Douglas Laing is represented with a 1971 31-year-old Glenallachie from back in 2002 whilst Scotts Selection by a 1963 North Of Scotland single grain.

Onto whiskies with some good age behind them comprise of official offerings such as a single cask 1968 Balvenie, single cask 1968 Glengoyne and a 1969 Glenlivet bottled in 2006 for their Cellar Collection. For the untold Islay fans we’ve got a 1974 single cask Ardbeg from 2006 that was released for the UK market, the stupendous 1985 21 year old Lagavulin, a 1965 35 year old Bunnahabhain, the 1970 35 year old Bruichladdich bottled for their 125th Anniversary and the one and only Port Ellen released at the 2008 Islay Festival.

Finally, we’ll finish will a few gems from the 20th century; Starting from the 1940s there’s a rather interesting Hennessy 3 Star Cognac. Into the 1950s you will discover a beautiful White Horse Cellar, Haig Gold Label and a very striking Crawfords 5 Star we’ve never auctioned before. More curious blends from the 1960s come from White Horse and Black & White. Early 1970s is a wonderful and rather rare bottle of Glenfarclas bottled as a 12-year-old for the Italian market. Plenty more blends from the 1970s that are great to experiment with. To the 1980s there’s great official malts from Rosebank, Glendronach, Glenfarclas, Macallan, Laphroaig and Caol Ila to name but a few. Ending in the 1990s and it continues with Clynelish, Ledaig, Port Ellen and Springbank.

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

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


June 2017 Auction Results

Looking over the impressive results from our latest auction it is tempting to jump upon the prices paid for the two casks of Macallan and gawp at their respective £55,900 and £52,600 hammer prices. However, while undoubtedly impressive this is pretty much bang on market value for casks of Macallan these days. It says a lot about just how far things have come in whisky and the perceived value there is in bonded stock as well as bottled whiskies these days. If we’d had these casks only a few years ago the prices would have been a fraction of what they were last night. So, if you’ve got any casks sitting around in bond – not all will fetch Macallan prices of course – you might be surprised at what you’d get for it at auction.

June Auction Top Results

Anyway, on with the bottles. Once again Macallan dominated the top end of the auction with the 1938 Fine & Rare fetching an impressive £18,600 and the 1948 51-year-old £12,900 – record prices for both bottles and further proof, as if it were needed, of Macallan’s dominance at auction. However, Bowmore and certain other older Islay whiskies are creeping up behind. The two Black Bowmores in this sale – a 1st release and a 75cl 3rd release for the US market – fetched £8400 and £7600 respectively. Not records but strong and consistent prices. Another impressive result for an Islay whisky was the Laphroaig 1966 12-year-old Cadenhead Dumpy at £2800, it seems any 60s Laphroaig will soon be unobtainable for less than the £2000 mark.

Other strong performers were, unsurprisingly, the Brora 1972 Rare Malts 61.1% at £7100, and another Rare Malts bottling, the Clynelish 1972 58.95% variant at an impressive £2200. I suspect it won’t be too long before a 72 Brora cracks the five-figure mark, and in another five years who knows how far the likes of the Clynelish might follow it.

Rare Malts Auction Results

The rest of the upper end of the sale was largely dominated by consistent and high prices for Macallans and Japanese Whiskies. One of the more interesting results was the Berry Brothers 1961 – 1973 Single Malt. Those that know this whisky know it is Bowmore inside, however before this was widely known this bottling could often be picked up for less than £180. How powerful a little knowledge can be in the whisky world as evidenced by this one selling for £1550.

Other impressive results which showed upward movement for certain bottlings were the Macallan Exceptional Cask series cask 9780 hitting £1200 – this series really seems to be on the march at the moment – and the Balvenie Rose also hitting £1200. Balvenie collectors seem to be a force to be reckoned with.

Moving down the scale further it was interesting to see bottlings such as the Balblair 1966 38-year-old and the Glen Elgin 15-year-old Manager’s Dram hitting £700 and £600 respectively. Terrific whiskies starting to attract more serious attention. The same can be said for the Mortlach 1972 22-year-old Rare Malts at £575 and the Balblair 1969 31-year-old Highland Selection series at £525. It’s nice to see Balblair getting a bit more attention as a whisky these days.

There were, what seem to me at any rate, a couple of bargains around this bit of the sale. A historic Johnnie Walker bottling of Australian Rum from the 1940s in near pristine condition seems like something of a bargain at £575. As does the 1950s Unblended Glenlivet at £400. But it’s little things like this that keep auctions interesting for buyers, as well as sellers and they, are important, especially in today’s market which is very much a seller’s market.

The Glen Old 30-year-old Special Releases hit £300, this incredible bottling seems to be finally gaining a bit more, long overdue attention at auction. The rest of this end of the sale was very much again a story of consistency with a few bargains thrown in, some Manager’s Drams, in particular, older ones such as the Cardhu and the Cragganmore, going for somewhat more ‘drinkable’ prices. Looking through the £100-250 range what also stands out is just how much the old official single malt bottlings from the 1970s and 1980s are fetching these days. Bottlings which not so long ago could be picked up quite comfortably for less than £100 are now fetching well over this price level. The common factor? They’re all examples of great, old style whisky. Let’s not forget how much the quality and desirability of the liquid itself is still driving these prices.

So, all in all, another impressive and consistent auction where rarity and quality of liquid still continue to drive prices skyward at both ends of the price spectrum. As we pass the halfway point in the year prices show no sign of flagging so it will be interesting to see how thing develop over the following six months. Until next time…


June Auction Highlights


1993 Macallan Hogsheads Casks – UNDER THE HAMMER

With the seemingly insatiable appetite for aged stock of single malt these days, prices of mature bonded stock have risen considerably – especially for those blue chip distilleries and names everyone wants. Those lucky or smart enough to buy some casks in the 1990s or earlier when they were – by today’s standards – astonishingly cheap (one day I’ll tell you the story about the 1965 hogshead of Lagavulin that someone thought was too expensive at £250 in 1990) are now reaping hitherto unimagined rewards.

Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the price now paid for privately owned casks of Macallan. Most are traded privately by brokers, bottlers and individuals for reportedly serious sums in the upper end of the five figure range. So, it’s rare that one, let alone two, mature casks of Macallan make it into a single auction. Auctioning casks is not something we’ve gone out of our way to do here at Whisky Online, but it’s always exciting when one turns up. So, needless to say, we were pretty thrilled to have a pair of 1993 Macallan hogsheads.

However, there’s always an element of risk involved in buying these kinds of casks if you aren’t able to check the liquid yourself. So, with this in mind, we thought we’d offer some tasting notes from the samples drawn at the time of the casks most recent gauging in April 2017 and sent to us by the vendor.

Macallan 1993. Cask 4130. Hogshead. 55.6% – Tasting Notes

1 Full Hogshead Of Macallan 1993 - Cask 4130 - Held In Bond

Colour: Gold

Nose: It’s a fresh and pretty classical, ‘naked’ style Macallan. Biscuit, varnished wood, a plush assortment of green fruits and even something tropical like a little passionfruit. Plenty typical notes of cereals, muesli – it’s quite savoury in fact – and a little green fruit compote. With water: becomes more mineral and gravelly. Notes of paprika and freshly ground white pepper. Again more very elegant tropical fruit notes linger in the back. Quite an intriguing nose for a Macallan – but the natural weight and heft of the distillate shines through well.

Palate: A little hot on delivery but gives way nicely to tobacco leaf, gingerbread and muscovado sugar. Also some nice leathery notes follow along with a pleasant leafiness. I suspect this is a refill sherry hogshead. It’s also quite diverse from the nose but in a pleasantly surprising way, the sherry components were not so evident on the nose. With water: more spicy with water along with added notes of treacle, plum wine and a little camphor as well. Again quite sturdy, classical Macallan.

Finish: Good length. Medium sweetness from the residual sherry influence along with some nutty and earthy notes which lift the whole thing nicely. Good balance between sweet and savoury throughout.

Comments: This is a quality Macallan. In my opinion, it would benefit from approximately another 5 years ageing. Although it is already of good character with some lovely idiosyncrasies such as these wee tropical touches on the nose and the more sherry-driven palate.

1 Full Hogshead Of Macallan 1993 - Cask 4130 - Held In Bond

Macallan 1993. Cask 4131. Refill sherry hogshead. 53.3%- Tasting Notes

1 Full Sherry Hogshead Of Macallan 1993 - Cask 4131 - Held In Bond

Colour: Amber

Nose: Pow! Now this is Macallan! Beautifully resinous, mineral and nervous sherry. Ridden with nuts, wet earth, wax jackets, dundee cake, treacle and various dark fruit compotes. A wonderful throwback to style of Macallan that’s long disappeared from most contemporary bottlings. It feels like you could be nosing an old Anniversary Malt from the early 2000s. Goes on with some green fruit, black pepper, a little graphite perhaps – some dried mushrooms. With water: broader and more earthy with a beautiful and gentle streak of something medicinal like gentian. Some green peppercorns, aged pinot noir and furniture oil. Quite complex and compelling.

Palate: A wonderful continuation of the nose. Many dark fruits: dates, fig jam, damsons, sultanas and raisins stewed in cognac. Pepper, black tea, molasses, a touch of old rum and some old Vin Juane wine and walnut oil. Many classical flavours such as aged Balsamico and rancio all make appearances as well. With water: again its earthier and drier. The sherry is a little more ‘free and easy’ not quite as taught and nervous as to begin with. More notes of various red and dark fruit jams, some coal hearth notes and more chewy walnut notes.

Finish: Long, earthy, nicely drying, herbal and with resurgent notes of old balsamico, camphor and a little rancio.

Comments: An excellent and truly classical Macallan in the way the sherry and distillate integrate beautifully and with great deft and balance. This one you could bottle straight away or leave for perhaps another 2-3 years. But my feeling is that this one is really approaching its zenith.

1 Full Sherry Hogshead Of Macallan 1993 - Cask 4131 - Held In Bond

Auction Ends Wednesday 5th July from 8 pm.

Any further queries please do not hesitate to ask.

Call: 01253 620 376  | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00 | Email: auctions@whisky-online.com