December Auction Highlights 2017

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Old Oban Whisky Circa 1900

One of, if not the greatest and most fascinating bottles of whisky we’ve ever had the pleasure of auctioning. We collected this bottle from an elderly lady in West Brom. This bottle along with a 1940s Blair Athol was part of an estate the vendor inherited many years ago. Both bottles have been sat in a side cabinet ever since.
Established in 1793 Oban is the only surviving distillery in the Oban area. Today Oban is renowned for being part of the Classic Malt Selection whilst older bottlings are few and far between with the distinct diamond shaped 12 year old from the 1970s springing to mind. Reminiscing and the only other bottle remotely close to this era is the Old Mull Blend from 1917 we auctioned in December 2016. The reason why I mention this example is because Oban is known as one of the main malt contributors for Old Mull.
The hotel mentioned on the label is located in the heart of Oban and is approximately half a mile from the distillery. The hotel now trades under the name Kelvin Hotel. The hotel is a grade B listed building and is one of the oldest and most original in the 19th century planned town. From our research the Scottish architect who made alterations to the hotel in 1896 was James Begg. This relates to when we believe the whisky was bottled.
The bottle itself is so original with its beautiful imperfections. To say this bottle is over a century old and the fact it’s survived two World Wars is incredible and unbelievable. Whoever wins this bottle will certainly be sat on a serious piece of Scottish liquid history. Truthfully it deserves spotlight in a museum. One of a kind and once in a lifetime.

This month’s auction features a collection of 24 Murray McDavid bottlings. The majority of the collection consists of whiskies distilled in the late 1960s and 1970s with the exception of one or two from the early 1980s. You will find obscurity such as the 1969 Islay Trilogy; a 36 year old marriage of selected Islay malts matured in both bourbon and sherry casks. There’s some unusual cask types such as a 1967 Strathisla from Bourbon, Grenachie Banyuls casks to a 1969 Macallan from Bourbon, Marsanne, Roussanne Casks! And sought after distilleries such as Glendronach that you rarely see bottled by independents.

We’ve got another great selection of casks that are held in bond, in Scotland. There’s a 1990 Sherry Hogshead Macallan that would currently yield approximately 240 bottles at 27 years of age and a 1996 Sherry Butt that would currently yield approximately 526 bottles at 21 years of age. It’s a bold and well-structured mid-age Macallan. This one has a clear and clean sherry influence which should really start to hit perfect within the next decade. Another one that is well worth hanging onto and being patient for. Even if it is already excellent. Then we have a run of 1992 Isle of Jura. Cask 5486 would currently yield approximately 172 bottles at 47.1%. This is a solid and expressive example of Jura. Ideal for bottling within the next year given the strength. Interestingly, cask 5487 would yield approximately 64 at 32.8%. On its own this is too weak to legally be called whisky, but as a component to vat with a younger or higher abv whisky it could work extremely well. Especially with one of the other, higher abv, sister casks of Jura. Cask 5488 would currently yield approximately 197 bottled at 49.6%. Probably the best of the four Jura casks. And also the one with the most future staying power. Although, my feeling is it would not really take more than a further two years maturation and that it could quite easily be bottled now or in the next few months. Finally cask 5490 would currently yield approximately 172 at 47.4%. This is another solid mid-aged Jura. Again ideal for bottling now or in the next 12 months.

The only official vintage Ardbeg distilled in the 1960s. A vatting of two casks from 1965 left at the distillery when LVMH took over. Casks 3678 and 3679 made up a yield of a mere 261 bottles at just short of 40 years old. Surprisingly this appearance in our Special Extended Christmas sale is the first time we’ve had the pleasure of auctioning this showpiece.

The very first Macallan Lalique makes a welcome return for our highlight auction of the year. First released in 2006 with an outturn of only 470 bottles; a large proportion of the stock in this bottling was substantially older than 50 years. Another often overlooked fact about the first Lalique edition is that many of them were opened and consumed, as a result the true number that remains is now far lower than many actually realise making this the hardest in the Lalique series to acquire now. A truly remarkable feat of design, cask selection, blending and execution by Lalique and Macallan, and one of the great modern masterpieces of single malt scotch whisky. This starting block for the other entries in the Lalique series that followed remains the ultimate in prestige and one of the best Macallans ever bottled.

Blair Althol is one of two surviving distilleries in the Pitlochry area and is often overlooked as a single malt with its association to Bell’s. Available official bottlings generally date back to the late 1960s and 1970s but believe it or not, these don’t appear as often as you may think, nevermind a 1940s. The distillery was mothballed between 1932 – 1949 and rebuilt in 1949. It went with the times in the late 1950s where it was modernised. In 1973 two more stills were added and in 1975 the dark grains plant was built.

What makes this bottling so rare is the fact it’s composed of whisky from the original distillery before it was mothballed in 1932. This is the first time we’ve laid eyes on such an old bottle from this distillery and the likelihood of us coming across another would be a miracle. So, if you’re looking to add this to your collection or you’re simply as curious as us to see what it tastes like, you won’t be disappointed either way.

Finally we will end with this simple crock that holds possibly the greatest whisky we’ll ever live to see. A 1955 Bowmore bottled for the opening of the visitors center in 1974. This was passed down to the vendor by their grandfather who worked at the distillery at the time. Great provenance and surprisingly this one is rammed to the top.

Don’t stop here as there’s so much more to see. Click through to our site and browse the entire selection of unique whiskies we’ve put together for our final auction of 2017.
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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Have a wonderful Christmas & New Year from all of us here at ​Whisky Online Auctions.

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November Auction Results 2017

We should probably start with the somewhat unsurprising record price of £24,200 achieved for the Macallan 1949 50 year old Millennium decanter. What’s most amusing from a personal perspective is that it wasn’t so long ago that this sort of result (indeed this is the second time that Whisky Online has achieved a record price for this bottling) would have had all chinwagging. Nowadays, however, such prices for these old Macallan bottlings have become pretty commonplace.

The theme of the Millennium dominated the top of the auction this time with the Springbank Millennium set also performing strongly at £12,900. I’m sure I’ve written before about how this set could be picked up for £4000-5000 not so long ago. Suddenly that doesn’t seem too expensive.

Then a pleasing run of Bowmores. The most notable of which was probably the 2nd edition Black Bowmore for the US at 75cl hitting £8200. Although, in terms of Bowmore rarities, the 1969 single cask for Fecchio & Frassa was the real gem of this auction. Indeed, the fact it sold eventually for £5500 is testament to both its rarity and the lauded reputation of the liquid itself. I suspect it will be a long time before we see another of these – or another might show up next month. Stranger things have happened.

Another pair of impressive results were the two PLOWED society bottlings from Douglas Laing. With the Ardbeg 1972 fetching £4600 and the Brora 1972 a whopping £5800. Two more examples of just how intensely in demand these sorts of legendary whiskies are these days.

The Campbell Hope & King Macallans showed no signs of slowing down either. An excellent example of one of the harder to find editions in the series, the 1951, hit an impressive £4600. While the 1957 nudged £3700. I suspect these bottlings will only continue to climb in the coming months and years.

One of the more surprising results was the cask of Arran 1997. Given the strong performance of other bonded casks recently it was somewhat surprising to see this one at £4100. Given the quality of the liquid as well it looks as though someone got themselves a wee bit of a bargain.

Some other notable results were bottlings such as the Bowmore 1962 Moon Import – a serious rarity these days – at £2350. The Gordon & MacPhail Talisker 1957 CASK at £2300 – another bottling which isn’t getting cheaper anytime soon I suspect. Similarly the 1955 variant hit £2050. The Laphroaig 1967 First Cask continued its recent strength of form with a hammer price of £2050 and a Bowmore Bicentenary hit £2000. It seems amazing juice is still the ultimate bringer of serious results at auction these days.

Strong results from the SMWS collection in this sale were also in evidence with the Springbank 1965 hitting £2000 and the Lomond 1972 Yoichi 1986 116.1 both achieving £1800. There were plenty strong results from Macallan in the upper ends of the sale – something so ubiquitous from sale to sale now I’ve kind of stopped commenting on it almost – but the 15 year old 1957 by Gordon & MacPhail fetching £1700 was still rather impressive. Something that goes to show good, old Macallan just isn’t cheap no matter what bottling it is.

Deviating from Whisky it was nice to be reminded that old rums are also somewhat ‘in vogue’ with collectors and drinkers these days. The 1930s Frederick Smith example fetched an impressive £1550. Similarly Midleton collectors were out in force for the scarcely seen 1990 edition, pushing it all the way to £1500. The thirst for old and rare examples of Ainslie’s blends showed no signs of stopping with the 1940s King’s Legend hitting £1450 and the 1950s Ainslie’s Specially Selected on £925. Again these are the sorts of bottles which could be bought for less than £150 a piece not so long ago.

The superbly dark sherry SMWS early editions of Rosebank have garnered quite a reputation in recent years since a couple were opened and written about. Unsurprisingly the 25.3 Rosebank hit £1300, with the 25.4 not too far behind it on £1000. Around this price level other impressive results were the MacPhail’s 1945 44 year old. These don’t tend to perform as well as the named distillery Gordon & MacPhail bottlings from the same era but I suspect the fact it was a wartime vintage helped propel it to £1050. Not too far away was the Oban Bicentenary Manager’s Dram 16 year old for £975. For so long this bottling sat still around the £400-500 mark so it’s nice to see this great dram getting some recognition. Similarly the Aberfeldy 19 year old Manager’s Dram hit an impressive £875 – it seems this boost in prices we’ve been seeing recently for the old Manager’s Drams is here to stay.

 

Older bottlings did well across the board this sale with the 1960s Springbank 5 year old hitting £825 and the 1950s Dalmore 12 achieving £800. Both in impressive condition neither result is particularly surprising but both do represent an increase on other recent results for these bottlings. No doubt next time they’ll be even higher.

 

A few other impressive SMWS results – unsurprising given how rarely many of these bottlings turn up at auction – were the dark sherry Glenfiddich 1978 15.6 for £575. The rather crazy Inchgower 1966 18.15 for £550. And the Macallan 1977 24.17 for £500. At this point it would be remiss not to point out what was probably the bargain of the sale with the Glenlochy 1969 25 year old Rare Malts selling for £525 – not sure what happened there but I’m sad I missed it is all I can say. Goes to show there’s always something in every auction.

Looking through the rest of the sale though, it is rather hard to discern too many other bargains. One of the things that stands out is the prices paid for almost any old SMWS bottlings these days. Even some of the more mundane bottlings can fetch impressive prices. Whether this is being driven primarily by collectors of drinkers seeking real obscurities I’m not sure. Almost certainly, as usual with these things, it’s a combination of both. Until next time…

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