OCTOBER AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Black Bowmore 1964
2nd Edition

When it comes to dark, heavily sherried whiskies the first whisky that comes to mind has to be the Black Bowmore. There’s a lot of hype over certain whiskies and sometimes the romance can spoil one’s expectations – but not this one! I’ve been lucky enough to try this on several occasions and it has blown me away every time.

This example was originally purchased in 1994 by the vendor direct from Gordon & MacPhail for their bar. This was a time when single malt whisky was yet to boom and a time when a case of 6 Black Bowmore cost a mere £504.16. The vendor said many locals preferred a pint and a shot of the going blend so the bottle sat behind the bar unopened for the best part of 15 years until he retired.

It’s been nearly a years since we’ve auction one of the original three Black Bowmore’s which puts into perspective how rare these ‘legendary’ whiskies are now becoming.

Sherriff’s Bowmore 8-year-old
Bottled 1960s

Another rare treat from Bowmore is this utterly beautiful Bowmore that wears its age on its sleeve. This was bottled under the Sherriff’s label sometime during the 1960s, but I’m not entirely convinced which side. Going from the collection this comes from it could possibly be the late-1960s which would make this an early 1960s distillate. If it was bottled in the early-mid-1960s we’re looking at mid-late-1950s distillate. Either way, you’re in for a treat as this has been ranked higher than the Black Bowmore.

Islay Mist D. Johnston & Co. Laphroaig Distillery
Strength 25 Under Proof

Without a doubt the most stunning and interesting whisky in this sale.

Islay Mist is a blend that was first created in the 1920s as a bit of a fluke by Ian Hunter, the distillery manager at Laphroaig. He was appointed by Hugh Morrison of Islay House to choose a whisky for his son’s 21st Birthday. Ian thought Laphroaig alone would be too peaty for some guests so he created a vatting with a number of Speyside whiskies. It was such a success it has long since been the go-to peated blend ever since.

Until 1992 Laphroaig has always been the base malt along with other key distilleries that often included Glenlivet & Glen Grant. This example from the 1950s is by far the oldest example we have ever come across. The whiskies composed to make up Islay Mist were generally at least 8 years old which means that it is possible this will contain whisky distilled in the 1940s.

For us, although surrounded by some of the most well thought of whiskies in the World, has to be the one to look out for in this sale. A classic example of old school blended whisky in pristine condition and yet another unseen whisky soon to join our sales archive.

Springbank 12-year-old – Sherry Cask
57.1% (100 PROOF SIKES)

Among the most desirable Springbank’s out there has to be this 100 Proof Springbank. We’ve only seen this variation appear once before and that was in one of our sales back in 2015. It’s very likely this is the same liquid as the legendary Samaroli Springbank. There’s no firm way to confirm this, however, their strengths are identical as is the colour of the liquid; so it would suggest it is the same incredible whisky as the famous Samaroli version which is one of only a tiny handful of whiskies to score 98/100 on whiskyfun. A great find and a very rare chance to get this extremely obscure variation of a legendary bottling.

Springbank 1977 Official Bottling
DOWTS Label

Another incredibly rare Springbank appearing in our October sale is this unusual official offering. This was bottled in 1996 as a private enterprise. The label was designed by artist Emma Dunbar. I spoke with Emma and her inspiration was based on the tasting notes at the time. DOWTS, I believe are the initials of the surnames of the original 5 people of the syndicate. The ‘stickmen’ represent the people’s occupations/hobbies.  There’s no ABV stated, however, the beading suggests its high and most certainly cask strength. Definitely, one to look out for whether you’re a drinker or collector!

Springbank Millennium Set

The Springbank Millennium Collection was originally launched back September 1998; the first to be released was the 25-year-old followed by the 30-year-old in March 1999, the 35-year-old in September 1999, the 40-year-old in March 2000, the 45-year-old in September 2000 and finally the 50-year-old in March 2001. As the vendor was the original purchaser he was able to complete the set with the miniatures which can also be found in this sale. A beautiful set with liquid to boot.

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

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OCTOBER AUCTION – CASK HELD IN BOND – TASTING NOTES

Macallan Whisky Cask For Sale

Maturing stock is becoming a regular feature in our monthly auctions now.  And this month we have another Macallan cask that will hit 30 years old in June next year.  Have a read of our tasting notes and let us know what you think…

Cask #9313: Originally filled on the 12/06/1989  into a 3rd fill Hogshead. This cask would currently yield approximately 213 x 70cl bottles of whisky currently at 29 years of age.

Colour: Straw

Nose: Light and very fresh. Cut grass, bailed hay, straw, citrus rind, peppery watercress and some light notes of shoe polish and new leather. Definitely towards the softer side of Macallan. With a little breathing time it begins to reveal herbal notes such as fresh oregano and rosemary. Also some earthier, rootier qualities and a sweetness that alludes to milk bottle sweets.

Palate: Similarly soft, delicate and gentle. Lots of citrus oils, earthy turmeric, a gentle sunflower oil note and some supple mineral notes. Again these greener qualities come through as chopped parsley and chives, cut grass and a foresty bracken note. Some hints of pine resin, clove, more polish notes and a light green pepper aspect.

Finish: Medium in length. A rising sootiness, more lemon aspects although this time manifesting in a more medicinal, cough syrupy fashion. These soft peppery qualities persist into the aftertaste giving a warming sensation.

Conclusions: A cask which really shows the lighter side of Macallan. Could potentially last until 30 quite well, although probably not much beyond. At the moment the alcohol level gives good bite and mouthfeel which helps bolster the otherwise rather soft qualities of the distillate.

If you are interested in buying this cask, you can register to bid on our auction here: https://www.whisky-onlineauctions.com/create-account/

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SEPTEMBER AUCTION RESULTS 2018

September whisky auction results

Last night’s auction finished with a slew of prices at the upper end of the sale that might once have been described as eye-popping. But think what it says about today’s secondary whisky market and how much things have changed in the space of only about 3 years, that we can look at a Macallan 65-year-old Lalique for £41,100, or a Bowmore 1964 Fino for £15,600 and simply take those prices in our stride? How times change… 

Also interesting was the 1996 hogshead of Tobermory that fetched £12,700, not in the same league as other bigger named distilleries of similar ages, but this is a serious price for a name like Tobermory. It seems casks are now very much part of the fabric of whisky auctioneering. And, arguably, where the smart money went in recent years.

Most of the bottles at the upper end of this sale were predictably on the high side. Results such as the Bowmore Gold for £12,400 or the Macallan Anniversary Malt 1968 for £3300 were all pretty typical. More telling – and perhaps more interesting – was the Lagavulin SMWS 111.1 selling for £4100. Another of these bottles that shot from sub four figures to this sort of result in a very short space of time. And further evidence of the hunger there is out there, not just for older, sherried Islays or Lagavulin, but for Scotch Malt Whisky Society rarities. Especially low numbers.

Other tasty examples were the Wray & Nephews 1962 25-year-old commemorative rum. The name Wray & Nephew carries some serious clout amongst rum lovers so it wasn’t surprising to see it fetching £2600. Another long undervalued bottling was the Gordon & MacPhail Secret Stills Talisker 1955 which fetched £2350. Again, this bottling was hovering around the £400-600 mark for quite a long time and it is underrated liquid so it’s nice to see it garnering a little more limelight.

The Lagavulin 38-year-old Syndicate bottlings all held strong at £1600 a piece. Exactly the same result as the Dalmore 1981 Matusalem Sherry Finesse bottling. I know which one I’d rather drink, but that just goes to show how varied the secondary market is these days in terms of a buyer profile. And how the effects of that spending is creating multiple bubbles and effects. Speaking of Lagavulin, it was notable that the 1985 Special Releases 21-year-old hit a muscular £1400, further confirming this bottling is comfortably on its way to the £2000 mark.

In terms of milestones though, perhaps the most notable was the Oban Bicentenary Manager’s Dram. Two bottles of which finished up at £1100, comfortably across the four-figure line. This bottling has been going from strength to strength lately, it will be interesting if it settles down now or continues it’s almost month by month march up the price range.

Laphroaig 1969 Connoisseur’s Choice performed well at £1000 and the Ardbeg Mor 1st release held strong at £950. While other examples of the Manager’s Dram series also continued to perform well, the Clynelish, Aberfeldy and Cardhu bottlings hitting £750, £725  and £675 respectively. While a 1980s 15-year-old Springbank knocked the ball out of the park at £700. These older official standard range Springbanks are good indicator that it is wise to never underestimate Springbank. Even today it’s probably worth putting aside a case of the current 10-year-old every so often. You never know how things will be in 10 – 20 years… 

One long underrated bottling it was good to see doing a little better was the Glen Calder 40 year old at £550. Technically a blend, this beautiful old dram really just tastes like a late 1940s single malt. Nice to see it getting a bit more recognition. Impressive in a different way was the Compass Box Hedonism hitting £525. Exactly the same price as the Dunvilles rotation 1948 half bottle. Another juxtaposed pair that illustrates the wildly different spending habits and buyer profiles which are converging to create today’s secondary market.

It’s interesting to see how a large proportion of Port Ellen bottlings are sitting around the £400-500 mark rather consistently these days – especially numerous independent examples from the likes of Douglas Laing. I think these bottles are still worth buying at this price. Sooner or later there will be a market shift upwards to the £600-800 range and not long after that four figures will loom on the horizon. On a 3-5 year investment, these look like good buys. Not to mention if you’re a drinker looking for a slightly more reasonable Port Ellen – most are terrific drams!

Back to the Manager’s Drams and the Talisker 17-year-old landed on £400. Unsurprising as this terrific bottling was never going to sit around the £200 mark forever. In all likelihood, this one will continue to rise steadily for the foreseeable.

In terms of bargains then, once again and rather predictably, there weren’t many. The I W Harper 1946 – 1952 looked interesting for old Bourbon fans at £260. Just as the Johnnie Walker Liqueur looked totally bewildering at £235 – the contemporary power of a brand name! The Balblair 1986 CASK bottling by Gordon & MacPhail was a good buy at £195, as was the Glenfarclas 1990 Family Cask 9246 at the same hammer price. Both exceptional drams.

Another soon to shift bottling, I suspect, will be all these 1980s Highland Park 12-year-olds in the old screen print dumpy presentation. Most contain wonderful, old school, subtly peaty, sherried Highland Park. They’ve sat, across almost all auctions, around the £160-200 mark for quite some time and represent pretty great drinking value at that price. I suspect it won’t be long before they move into the £250-300 range – then beyond. Might be worth snapping one up before they do. A 1952 – 1977 Hine Cognac also looks highly quaffable, and something of an anomaly at £140.

Generally though, it was slim pickings for bargain hunters in this sale. As ever the market remains powerful and a weak pound hits UK buyers but helps sellers. The fever of whisky is far from diminishing. Let’s see what next month brings… 

 

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