Category Archives: Auction Highlights

JULY AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Dalmore 50 Year Old, Crystal Decanter

Highlighting our July auction is the magnificent Dalmore 50 year old.  This whisky is regarded as the best Dalmore ever bottled and probably the best 50 year old in the World. This was distilled during the 1920s and bottled back in 1978. There’s very few whiskies distilled in this period combined with such great age. Dalmore, along with a handful of other distilleries revolutionised the whisky industry and demonstrated how great certain whiskies can be at such an age. Even today there’s distilleries that have never reached this age. Not that all whiskies need to be old to be good! What’s interesting about this whisky is the fact it’s bottled at a hefty 52%, which is very unusual for such an old whisky. All this history is wrapped up in a hand-cut crystal decanter and bespoke wooden presentation box which is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity hand signed by Richard Patterson. Due to the value of this whisky until recently, there’s been plenty of these opened and with only 60 produced makes this one of the hardest official Dalmore’s to find nowadays.
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Macallan 1946, 56 Year Old, Fine & Rare

Joining the Dalmore Fifty at the top of this sale is a 56 year old Macallan distilled just after the War ended, in 1946. This has been bottled under the distilleries Fine & Rare series which displays Macallan at its best. This is one of the oldest bottlings in the Fine & Rare series that was an original, cask strength and fully matured release rather than a re-bottling. This coupled with the fact of the lack of coal due to the post-war years makes this one of the true gems of this fabled series and perhaps one of the most desirable and hardest to obtain.
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Springbank

If you follow us on Facebook you may already know we have a small haul of Springbank in this sale. A few highlights include two official releases bottled by the distillery in the 1990s. A 25 year old Sherry Cask and a 21 year old under the Archibald Mitchell label.

These are joined by two Dumpy Cadenhead bottlings. A 1973 18 year old – this was matured full term in a Rum Butt rather than just a finish as we tend to see in later bottlings. I assume from the information on label this was drawn from a single cask. Topping this is an incredibly rarer and harder to find Springbank Cadenhead bottling. This one was bottled at least before 1977 and therefore will certainly contain whisky distilled in the early/mid 1950s. The vendor bought this bottle from their local ‘wholesalers’ named Foster’s several decades ago and it’s interesting to see the original price tag (£9.45p) is still stuck on the top of the cap. How things have changed, aye!

Equally as rare is the 1964 31 year old bottled under Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection. This is a whisky I’ve been wanting to try for some time now and I missed my opportunity earlier this year at the Old & Rare! I believe this is a very impressive Sherry matured Springbank and is supposed to be up there with the official 1966 Local Barley’s.

Elsewhere from Springbank you will find numerous examples distilled in the sixties such as a 1967 by Duncan Taylor, a 1968 by Chieftain’s and a 1969 by Signatory.

Old Is The New New
1980s

Older whiskies are what we are all about here at Whisky-Online and we pride ourselves on uncovering a good selection each month. In this sale you will find a nice array of official single malts from the 1980s. These include a 1 litre Bowmore 12 year old. This is a fantastic whisky that’s silky smooth, fruity, peaty, flora and fresh. But be careful, you could easily bury a whole bottle in one session. You could say the same for the ‘Unblended’ Laphroaig 10 year old too. These are joined by several other 1980s bottlings such as a Isle Of Jura 8 year old, a Classic 18 year old Balvenie and a dumpy 12 year old Highland Park.

1970s

From the seventies we have a very rare semi-official Pulteney, one of several produced between the 1970s and 1980s for the Caithness Club under the original Pulteney ‘Lion’ label. Heading over to Clynelish with a very beautiful 12 year old. This livery was introduced in 1977 and the liquid itself is from the pre Brora Clynelish Distillery. This period displayed low levels of peat because it was no longer needed for Islay blends as Caol Ila was back in full production. Or if you’re wanting peat, take a look at the 1939 Glenlivet by Gordon & MacPhail. These pre-war single malts were noticeably smokier and peatier but with an equally intense and fruity character.

Old Blended Scotch Whisky

We always love to mention the old blends we have avalible each month. and standing out in this sale is a White Horse bottled in 1947. This will contain a high proportion of whisky distilled at the Lagavulin distillery in the 1940s. These early dated examples hardly ever turn up in auction and it’s great to see this one in such great condition with a well preserved filling level. A more obscure brand and one that you’d be lucky to find is a Benmore Liqueur Scotch Whisky. Blended & bottled by Benmore Distilleries Ltd. BDL have a long background in the whisky industry dating back to as far as 1920. This is when they purchased a now long lost Distillery named Benmore. – Benmore is one of thirty four lost distilleries in the Campbeltown area which closed in 1936. The company also owned the Dallas Dhu distillery from 1921 which was later mothballed in 1929 and sporadically until it finally closed in 1983. The distillery is now a museum and attracts thousands of visitors from around the World each year. Interestingly in 1921 the company also purchased the Lochindall distillery on Islay. This was a fairly short affair as it was sold off in 1929 to DCL who were starting to dominated the distilling industry. All old blends from before the 1950s are becoming very hard to find nowadays and as more and more enthusiasts realise how different this style of whiskies is, they’re only going to continue to become rarer and even more valuable.

 

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

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The Alex Barclay Dedicated Miniature Auction 2018

Auction 1 of 5

So, a few weeks ago Wayne, Harrison and Sarah traveled to Birmingham to pick up Alex Barclay’s miniature collection. With the help of Alex it took the four of them a solid 5 hours to carefully pick over 5,000 bottles off the shelves and pack them in to forty five, 45 litre tubs. Over the next several months we will be auctioning approximately 1000 bottles per sale. So for example in this sale you will find just under 500 different examples from James MacArthur, numerous Japanese and Taiwanese miniatures along with distillery bottlings from A-B.

To learn a little more about Alex’s collection head over to our blog Learn more »

History of James MacArthur miniatures

The company James MacArthur has been bottling scotch whisky since the 1980s and it wasn’t until the early 1990s did they start producing miniatures to accompany their full size counterparts. I assume the idea was to give enthusiasts the opportunity to try whiskies without forking out big money for a full sized bottle. Similar to the modern craze of samples.

As Alex didn’t want to risk not been able to get each release, he decided to contact MacArthurs direct. He was put in touch with a chap called Arthur Winning. Arthur agreed to provide a number of each of his minis to the Mini Bottle Club.

It is worth mentioning and interesting to know some MacArthur miniatures were produced for the Mini Bottle Club and commercially with the same label. But if this was ever the case, green bottles were used for the commercial bottlings and clear bottles for the MBC issues. You will therefore find a few minis with the same labels but different coloured bottles.

Some minis were produced in sets of up to 240 of each malt, while others were produced in numbers as low as 60.

Arthur also agreed to set aside one mini of each produced for Alex. Although he still had to buy them at normal commercial prices but at least he didn’t have to hunt for them.

Following some discussions, Arthur agreed to re-bottle full sized bottles as miniatures for the club, as several of these had never been bottled in miniature form.

This was an expensive operation and some of the malts were only available in small quantities so the number of minis produced varied from as few as 14 up to around 60.

Eventually his stocks were exhausted but there was still a demand for MacArthur minis from some club members. So Arthur started to re-bottle some other malts as minis. Most of them were produced from full sized bottles such as examples from the SMWS. The miniatures produced varied from 14 to 30 bottles.

These were often numbered and Alex was generally able to get bottle no.1 of each one produced.

This process eventually came to an end in the late 1990s but MacArthurs continued to produce some commercial minis often with the 500 Years of Scotch label. As far as Alex is aware they stopped producing minis in the early 2000s.

Malt Mill 1959

Without a doubt the rarest miniature of them all. There’s probably a lot of doubt in certain people regarding this miniature. However, the provenance of this miniature lies with Alex and his friend who sourced a sample bottle from an ex-distillery worker in the 1990s. With their ongoing relationship with the bottler MacArthurs, it was decided they were the guys to bottle the sample into 4 5cl miniatures which were issued to members of the UK mini bottle club.
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Just under 500 different James MacArthur bottlings

Alex said:
”I think that the story of Malt Mill is well known but some other rare minis produced include two Lomond minis (the only Lomond minis that I know of) from SMWS bottles, a few Ladyburn minis from re-bottled Wm Grant bottles, a Kininvie from a sample that was obtained from a distillery worker and a Port Ellen 12 year Old with the Tall Still label (only TWO of these minis exist as all others had the original MacArthurs label).”

”As far as I know there were only three MacArthur minis that I failed to get all with the 500 Years of Scotch label – Teaninich 21yo 57.2%, Teaninich 1974 58.4% and Imperial 1979 43%. These were amongst the last MacArthur minis to be produced.”

”I have kept 8 MacArthur minis in my collection – Dailuaine Millennium edition distilled in 1962, Glenlossie 12yo gold label, Lomond 19yo tall still label, Mosstowie 13yo tall still label, Ladyburn 12yo tall still label, Lochside Grain, Ben Nevis Grain, and Cambus Grain. All of the others are available in auction!

Japanese Whiskies

Joining all the James MacArthur’s are a ridiculous selection of Japanese whiskies. Alex acquired many of these miniatures during business trips to Japan in the 1980s. He was also fortunate enough to meet up with the late Taizo Shiratsuchi while in Osaka. Taizo and Alex traded for many years prior to his sad passing. He was able to get several Japanese minis for Alex which were either trade or tasting samples which were very hard to get.

What else to look out for…

From the proprietors you will find examples from Arran, Auchentoshan, Ardbeg, Aberlour, Aberfeldy, AnCnoc, Aultmore, Bowmore, Balvenie, Bruichladdich, Balblair, Bunnahabhain, Blair Athol, Benriach and Bladnoch.

As always there’s a whole host of interesting miniatures to choose from whether you’re a collector or drinker. If you’re not already registered, you can do so here.

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

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JUNE AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

Baillie’s T.Y.O Scotch Whisky
Ainslie, Baillie & Co Ltd.

Highlighting our June auction is without a doubt this amazing bottle of Baillie’s T.Y.O. Scotch Whisky. It’s sure to be over 100 years old and not something we’ve ever come across before. We’re excited to offer this to our audience and to see what interest it stirs up – particularly with those who are mad about anything remotely close to the Original Clynelish. We’ve done some digging on the history of this bottle, so if you’re interest, head over to our blog and learn all about this incredible bottle of liquid history.
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Rosebank Celebrated –
Pure Malt 1960s

Two rather sexy official Rosebank’s bottled during the nineteen sixties. We collected these from the vendors house in Wimbledon. He acquired them many years ago from his uncle. In fact these were once apart of a full case of 12 before he drank them. I like how it states on the label ‘Celebrated Pure Malt’. You don’t see other distilleries mention this so it must be unique for Rosebank. We’ve never come across an official bottle of Rosebank from as early as this before so it will be interesting to see what level of interest they reach.
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Macallan 1957
Anniversary Malt

The Macallan 1957 bottled in 1983 is the first release in the 25 year old Anniversary Malt series. It is also one of the best whiskies out of them all – It displays everything that is old sherried Macallan. View product »

Bowmore 1956
Sherry Cask

The 1956 Bowmore is also the first in a series of vintage labels which depict the famous seagulls flying over the distillery. This series is also concentrated around whiskies matured in selected sherry casks. View product »

Casks Held In Bond

Those looking to purchase maturing stock, we have two sister casks of 1996 Ben Nevis in this sale. Both casks are currently at 22 years old and are suitable to bottle now or if you wanted to leave them longer they would happily sit and mature comfortably for many more years. Read our tasting notes »

Ben Nevis 1996 #1458

An excellent example of Ben Nevis at its peak. The sort of cask you could easily bottle now but should also continue to hold its quality or improve for a further 3-6 years. The kind of exemplary, distinctive and characterful Scottish single malt it is increasingly hard to find in this day and age.
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Ben Nevis 1996 #1459

The same conclusion can be reached about cask 1459: this is a cask which is in top condition now but should maintain this quality – or even surpass it – over the next 3-6 years. The kind of characterful, distinctive – and valuable – malt whisky that very few distilleries are producing these days.
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Old Blended Scotch Whisky

Apart from the epic Baillie’s we’ve already highlighted, you will find a few more old blends such as several Black & White’s from the 1950s. An unusual variation of King George VI & another Victoria Vat from the 1940s. The most obscure of the lot is a Weston’s Choicest Liqueur Blended Scotch Whisky. It was blended & bottled by a company called Duncan Weston & Co, Ltd and imported to the US by The Caledonian Corporation, Rockefeller Centre New York in the 1940s. Whether you’re a collector or drinker, these old blends are getting harder and harder to find nowadays. View all blends »

What else to look out for…

There’s plenty to keep your eye on in this sale; for example there’s a 1966 Banff & Tamdhu by Douglas Laing for their Old Malt Cask series. The Banff is one of the very first bottlings ever released by Douglas Laing in 1998 and is a particularly hard example to find with only 181 bottles being produced. You will find numerous examples by Signatory’s, including a few gems from their Silent Stills. In my opinion this is the best series out there to collect. Not only are they all from closed distilleries, they have everything going for them in terms of attributes. They’re arguably one of the hardest series to complete due to the fact many sets have now been split up for their miniatures.

Amongst the many Gordon & MacPhail bottlings, the most impressive in this sale is a ridiculously dark 1969 Miltonduff. You don’t see many Miltonduff on the market so this example is a treat. Equally aesthetically pleasing is a 1988 Littlemill from a lesser know Gordon & Company. If you’re ever going to judge a whisky with your eyes, surely its going to be one of these. If you’re looking for certain quality then take a look at the 1965 Springbank for Milroy’s. This was bottled in 1992 for their Anniversary – we’ve never come across this example, but if it is remotely like any Springbank from the 1960s you’re in for a treat. Or why not try the offering by Blackadder, a 1965 40 year old Blairfindy. This is well thought of as Glenfarclas, although there’s no mention of this on the label.

Older official bottlings look pretty tasty with two old official Highland Parks produced for the Italian market. A 1956 18 year old and a 19 year old from what appears like a sherry cask. Amongst all the Macallan there’s a 1963 & 1964 Special Selection. The beautiful 1964 Aberlour matured in Sherry casks along with 1966 Glen Moray & 1967 Glenlivet. Another 1968 single cask Glen Garioch appears – this one is from cask 9 which I believe we’ve never had in before.

As always there’s a whole host of Old, Rare & Obscure whiskies for you to discover over on our web-site. If you’re not already registered, you can do so here.

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

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JUNE AUCTION – FULL CASKS HELD IN BOND – TASTING NOTES

Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Ben Nevis 1996 cask #1458

Colour: Gold.

Nose: As with many of these mid-late 1990s Ben Nevis which are currently reaching the market, this one possesses a typical richness. At first it is dominated by honey and freshly baked bread aromas. Indeed, there is a pronounced autolytic character. The profile develops with further notes of mead and some gentle background fruitiness; white stone fruits; mirabelle; pear eau de vie. Some gingerbread is also present. Globally it is fresh, rich and with a sense of elegance and complexity.

Palate: Here the Ben Nevis personality really strikes deep. Dense exotic and green fruits which are both syrupy and oily in texture. Barley sugar, quince, lemon curd and a turmeric/earthy quality. This really is excellent whisky. It is reminiscent of some of these late 1980s aged Irish single malts which have been bottled extensively these past few years. Underneath there are various tertiary complexities such as toasted seeds, yellow flowers and lanolin. An excellent Ben Nevis.

Finish: Long, heathery, spicy, lightly fruity, oily and with a sense of fragrant, herbal waxiness.

Comments: An excellent example of Ben Nevis at its peak. The sort of cask you could easily bottle now but should also continue to hold its quality or improve for a further 3-6 years. The kind of exemplary, distinctive and characterful Scottish single malt it is increasingly hard to find in this day and age.

Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Ben Nevis 1996 cask #1459

Colour: Gold

Nose: Aromatically similar to its sister cask although 1459 moves more in the direction of syrupy sweetness; golden syrup, icing sugar, treacle, coconut – even a touch of rancio. There is a more plain, straightforward earthiness as well, and some denser, darker fruits such as sultanas and prunes. Globally though this is a similarly fat, characterful and aromatically rich style.

Palate: Heather ale, fragrant waxes, soot, green banana, ripe melon, guava and dried mango. Some pineapple chunks, toasted sunflower seeds, trail mix, damp earthen floored cellars, aged sweet wines. Again the profile is similar to the sister cask – the differences lie in the subtle, tertiary deviations in flavour. The quality overall is equal and the texture is similarly oily, syrupy and fat with these rather glistening fruit aspects.

Finish: Long, more spice driven, slightly dryer, coal dust, a mineral aspect and some notes of meat and leather in the aftertaste.

Comments: The same conclusion can be reached about cask 1459: this is a cask which is in top condition now but should maintain this quality – or even surpass it – over the next 3-6 years. The kind of characterful, distinctive – and valuable – malt whisky that very few distilleries are producing these days.

Both of these cask are avalible to bid on in our June auction which ends on the 4th July 2018. Start Bidding » from the 27th June, 8pm.

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Baillie’s T.Y.O. Scotch Whisky – The Clynelish Connection?

We just had to flag up one of the most interesting lots from our upcoming auction, which starts on Wednesday, 27th June: this rather fabulous bottling of Baillie’s Ten Years Old (T.Y.O.), bottled around a century ago by Ainslie, Baillie & Co.

Quite aside from this bottle’s incredible age and condition, it’s the bottling company rather than the brand that makes this antique blend even more special. Keen fans of old blends and Clynelish distillery will have pricked up their ears at the mention of Ainslie, for it was James Ainslie & Co. that bought the Clynelish distillery in 1896, and it was under the Ainslie & Heilbron name that many of the best ‘old Clynelish’ single malts from the distillery that became known as Brora were bottled in the 1960s and 1970s.

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By then, of course, Ainslie & Heilbron had long been a part of the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) that eventually became what we know today as Diageo. What’s so interesting about this bottle is that Ainslie, Baillie & Co. only existed for a short time, enabling us to date this bottle from the period 1913-21.

James Ainslie & Co. had refurbished the Clynelish distillery, which was already one of the foremost distilleries in Scotland, in 1898, the year of the Pattison Crash. Ainslie & Co. were badly damaged financially in the crash and eventually, in 1912, the company was facing bankruptcy.

James Ainslie and his brother Thomas both retired, James Ainslie & Co. was dissolved and their partner John Risk, who owned half of Ainslie & Co., sold the Ainslie family’s shares in Clynelish to the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL). 

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The following year, 1913, the remaining assets of James Ainslie & Co. were merged with Walter Baillie & Sons, Robertson Brothers – which Baillie & Sons had bought in 1903 – and John Gillon & Co. to form the new company Ainslie, Baillie & Co., but this company was only to last until the retirement of James Ainslie’s son Robert in 1921.

Ainslie, Baillie & Co. was then itself liquidated and its assets were acquired by Sir James Calder, who merged it with the whisky merchants David Heilbron & Co. and the distillers Colville, Greenlees & Co. to form Ainslie & Heilbron (Distillers) Ltd.

Ainslie & Heilbron was moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow in 1922 and formally became part of the DCL empire in 1926, where the company was reunited with the Clynelish distillery, which was now wholly-owned by DCL, who had bought out John Risk the previous year. However, Ainslie & Heilbron would have been working in tandem with DCL since its inception, as Sir James Calder had been in partnership with, and indeed on the board of, DCL since 1921.

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Quite the history, eh? In these days of mega-brands and global conglomerates it’s easy to forget how different the whisky industry was a hundred years ago, when hundreds of independent blenders and distillers existed and were constantly changing hands.

This bottle of Baillie’s Ten Year Old, then, really represents a truly fascinating period in the whisky industry and given the Ainslie name we feel there must be a strong possibility that some of the ten year old whisky in this bottle would have been distilled at Old Clynelish. Bearing in mind the fact that many top-line blends of the day were up to 50% malt whisky, this is a mouthwatering idea.

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At the time that Ainslie’s bought the distillery in 1896 Clynelish was already well-known as having the most valuable spirit in the industry – indeed, for many years previously Clynelish had been able to sell every drop of whisky it produced to private customers, and refused trade orders. It was Ainslie & Co.’s rebuilding and expansion of the distillery in 1896-8 that enabled greater production and the ability to service both private and industry customers, meaning that Clynelish began to feature in more blended whiskies from the beginning of the 20th century.

In later years, the Ainslie & Heilbron company would become the home to established blends including Ainslie’s Royal Edinburgh, Ainslie’s King’s Liqueur and King’s Legend and The Real McTavish, which are all believed to have contained a proportion of Old Clynelish in their recipes. We can’t know for sure if that was also the case with this Baillie’s but the Ainslie connection means it’s a very strong possibility, and with the blend being stated as ten years old the prospect is certainly an enticing one.

 

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In any case, and all speculation aside, this is a remarkably well-preserved bottle of historical significance. It was obviously a premium product of its era – don’t forget that age statements for whiskies were relatively rare at this time, particularly for blends.

From the fact that the back label’s ‘certificate of analysis’ (dated 1904) and the capsule both have the name of the pre-merger Walter Baillie & Sons on them, we believe that this bottle dates from very soon after the creation of Ainslie, Baillie & Co. (1913, to save you referring back to the earlier history lesson) and we expect there to be a lot of interest when this bottle comes under our hammer in our next auction, which begins on Wednesday 27th June. Keep an eye on this one!

For much more information on the convoluted history of the Ainslie company, Clynelish and Brora, do check out whiskyfun’s fascinating Brora History page.

If you’re interested in this Lot, you can register on our website here.

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MAY AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Andrew Usher & Co. Edinburgh
Green Stripe early 20th century

From time to time we come across truly magical whiskies from eras that are long lost and whether they’re single malts or blends, they’re all worth getting excited about.
This bottle was purchased in 1914 by the vendors Grandfather (A Worcestershire farmer 1876 – 1960) at the beginning of the first World War with the intention of opening it to celebrate the end, which came in 1918. He never ended up drinking the whisky but instead passed it down to his son (Also a Worcestershire farmer). Again he never found the time to drink the whisky and consequently passed it down the his daughter, the current owner of the bottle. It has been sat in a cupboard in her home in Worcestershire until recently when Wayne I consigned the bottle for auction.

”I remember it sitting in the Cupboard waiting for a Suitable Event that would Warrant opening it!! I think that now, that decision maybe left to Another to choose the Occasion?”

Relics like this don’t turn up in auction often, especially with such precise provenance. Bottles like this deserve spot light in a museum or opened and shared with good friends. Either way we know this bottle will go to a good home with one of our bidders.

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Ardbeg 1963

This is definitely one to look out for and one we’ve never seen in our auction before. A 1963 Ardbeg bottled in 1994 by Gordon & MacPhail for their Connoisseurs Choice Map label. We’re seeing less & less off these older 1960s distillate Ardbeg’s in auction and this is mainly down to their reputation of being absolutely spectacular whiskies.

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Ardbeg 1966

Joining the 1963 Connoisseurs Choice Ardbeg is this 1966 32 year old. A single cask from Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection with the Chairman’s Stock Gold Seal; This gives you and idea they were impressed with his whisky when they bottled it – This will be equally as good and you could argue harder to find with only 120 bottles produced.

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Glen Grant 10-year-old
Dark Sherry 1960s

By far my favourite bottle in this months auction. We collected this from the vendors house in Chiddingfold. We’ve never come across this one under the Peatling & Cawdron label before and we’re excited to see what interest it creates.

Peatling & Cawdron is one of many business established by Thomas Peatling, a wine and spirits agent dating back to 1826. In 1988 Peatling & Cawdron was incorporated with several other small businesses before reverting to its original name of Thos. Peatling.

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Old Blended Scotch Whisky

We have even more old blends avalible in our May auction. You will find numerous examples from White Horse, Black & White, Johnnie Walker, Haig & Logans. Along side these brands you will also find a very interesting 1930s Gilbey’s Spey-Royal. This will contain a high proportion of malt distilled at the Glen Spey distillery. Like many of the blends bottled before the war, the malt contributed was much more concentrated and often peaty. These make for fascinating drinking sessions and often the only way to experience the flavour profile of a distillery from this period is through blends like this.

Macallan Madness

With the hype of the official opening of the new (£140m) Macallan distillery, it would be rude not to share a few highlights from their old stock that are avalible in our May auction.

Macallan in 1996

In nineteen ninety six Macallan produced two iconic whiskies and arguably two of the most collectable whiskies every produced. The Macallan Private Eye, bottled in 1996 for the 35th anniversary of the magazine. The whisky is a vatting of several casks including a 1961 vintage to represent the year the magazine was founded. The very catching screen printed label was designed by Ralph Steadman, a freelance illustrator for the magazine. At the time of release they decided to keep the price of the whisky in theme with the occasion and therefore sold them for £35. To put things into perspective the p&p was £6.95. The Nicol’s Nectar is another classic collectable Macallan and is somewhat rarer than the Private Eye. Produced for the occasion of Peter Nicol’s retirement from the office. The label was drawn by artist Colin Rizza who has created numerous labels for the distillery. These were never sold publicly but instead given to everyone who worked at the distillery at the time. From a close and very reliable source approximately only 120 bottles were produced.

Experience Macallan ten, through the decades

We have a run of 10-year-olds bottled from the seventies through to the noughties. This would make a great line-up for anyone planning a whisky tasting and would given those attending a much clearer understanding of how the profiles of the same whisky can changes over many decades.

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Masters Of Photography

The Masters Of Photography by Rankin is a series of 1,000 bottles and unique portraits taken by Rankin on the Macallan estate that heavily features Easter Elchies House. Most will agree the best portraits include the nude shots of Tuuli, Rankin’s inspiration and wife. Each piece is presented with the original Polaroid that is depicted on the bottle of 30 year old with a booklet telling the story and Rankin’s signature to certify it’s an original.

”This project is very special to me for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve been able to come back to the country of my birth and portray its beauty through one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever attempted. The second reason is that this collection marks the full stop after Polaroid, as we head into the digital age.” 

RANKIN

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The Masters Of Photography by Annie Leibowizs is a set of four single cask Macallan that feature the actor Kevin McKidd. The scenes include The Library, The Skyline, The Bar & The Gallery. Within the whole series there were 1000 bottles produced. The library edition has the smallest outrun with only 145 bottles, the other three in this series yielded 285 bottles making The Library edition the rarest of the four bottlings. Taking this into account means there were only 145 possible complete sets available Worldwide.

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As always there’s a whole load more of amazing whiskies to discover over on our website. If you’re not already registered, you can do so here.

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

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The Alex Barclay Miniature Collection: Interview

We’re delighted to announce that we’ll soon be auctioning the largest and most significant collection of whisky miniatures we’ve ever encountered and you could argue in the World.  The collection belongs to the president of the Mini Bottle Club, Alex Barclay, and it’s so large that we’ll be splitting the sale over more than one auction.  Alex was kind enough to take some time to talk to us about his extraordinary collection:

Whisky-Online Auctions: Hi Alex, thanks for speaking to us and congratulations on building up such an amazing collection. How did you get started in the first place? 

Alex Barclay: In 1974, after I had moved to Birmingham, my father sent me a small book by John Wilson on the Malt Whiskies of Scotland. I wanted to taste some of those whiskies, so the next time I was back in North East Scotland I went to the Gordon & MacPhail shop and bought a few minis of single malts to taste. I liked the look of the miniatures, so I decided to buy duplicates – one to drink and one to keep. My original plan was to get one from each distillery but after joining the Mini Bottle Club I expanded my range of collecting. A business trip to Japan in 1984 got me into collecting Japanese Whiskies. I went from there to collecting old blended Scotch, Irish Whiskey and some American and World whisky miniatures.

WOA: How many minis did you collect in the end?

AB: At its peak my collection numbered over 6,000 minis. I have disposed of a few over the years but it is probably still around 6,000 minis.

A snippet of Alex’s collection on display

WOA: Was there a moment when you realised it had changed from being a casual hobby to a full-on passion?

AB: I think moving to it being a passion was a gradual thing, but the Mini Bottle Club put me in contact with UK and overseas collectors, many of whom became friends and the compulsion to collect old and rare stuff and the desire to be first to get a new mini kicked in sometime after that.

The infamous Malt Mill bottled by Alex himself

WOA: The Malt Mill miniature got everyone very excited earlier this year.  Which other of your minis do you think there’ll be most interest in?

AB: I hope that my Malt Mill generates similar interest. I would also like to think that a distillery bottled CARDOW, a MACALLAN 1937 from G&M, a couple of old cork and / or foil-sealed LAPHROAIGS and an ISLAY MIST mini will generate some interest. I also have virtually all the James MacArthur minis ever bottled, plus some rare minis from other independent bottlers and almost every PORT ELLEN mini ever bottled (although I plan to keep a few PE minis).

WOA: Any quirky bottles in there or personal favourites that have special sentimental value? Is there anything you’re hanging on to or are you selling everything?

AB: I am not selling everything. Where possible I am keeping two from each Scotch Malt and Grain distillery, a few old Irish including a pre-1920 Nun’s Island Pot Still (a real personal favourite), a few that I bought in Japan in the 1980s and all my Signatory Silent Stills minis. As far as I know I am the only person with the full set and that took a lot of collecting, so I have decided to keep them for the time being. I will also hang on to a few minis that I bought in the past couple of years as I would probably get less than I paid for them. Other favourites being kept are a White Horse Label Lagavulin and the old brown Distillery label Tamdhu.

WOA: How did you keep track of everything as the collection grew?  Did you ever buy something thinking it was missing from your collection and then discover you already had it?

AB: For years I kept a list but that became too hard so I photographed everything. I stopped photographing new bottles about 4 or 5 years ago and then I lost touch a bit with what I had  – so yes, I did buy stuff that I already had and I still have a few duplicates.

WOA: Did you ever start collecting full-size bottles as well or were you only ever into minis? What is it about miniature bottles that really inspired you?

AB: I started collecting full sized bottles about 30 years ago when distilleries started to close. I had about 450 full sized bottles, including one from each Malt Distillery. I sold some of those privately and auctioned the others two or three years ago. At one point it was cheaper to buy some full-sized bottles than the equivalent mini! Minis take up less space and you can have far greater variety than with a collection of full sized bottles.

WOA: Aside from collecting what was your favourite whisky to drink?

AB: I would never choose one whisky as my favourite. I have always had a preference for peated whisky and, perhaps surprisingly, I have found peated Bunnahabhain to be amongst my favourites. I usually have a bottle of Laphroaig and a bottle of Lagavulin in the house. I have had a couple of superb bottles of Aberlour and Glen Moray, the latter matured in virgin American Oak. I have a preference for an oak vanilla flavour to a heavily sherried flavour but a good Aberlour or Glenfarclas will always tempt me. One of my favourite drinking whiskies isn’t a Scotch Whisky but is Red Breast Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey! I always have a bottle of it in the house! I also usually have a bottle of Glen Deveron as Macduff was my local distillery.

WOA: Over the years you’ve built up an extraordinary collection, but were there any ‘ones that got away’? Anything that you’d definitely still buy if you found it tomorrow?

AB: There were many that got away! I always set price limits, so I missed out at times: on an old 1930’s Glendronach and an old Tomatin amongst others, when the price went too high. Perhaps my biggest frustration was in not managing to get a MacKinlays and Birnie Glen Mhor that I could be absolutely sure was genuine. I have two Glen Mhor minis with the appropriate label but I have significant doubts about one and questions about the other. I will still buy minis if any of the new Scottish distilleries like Wolfburn, Daftmill etc ever produce them, as I would still like to have at least one mini from each distillery.

WOA: What advice would you give to anyone just starting a mini collection?

AB: Decide what you want to collect, start with a small range then expand it in a direction that interests you, keep your eyes open for fakes and set a price limit and stick to it. Try to trade with overseas collectors, although that has been largely ruined by our ridiculous postage restrictions in shipping minis. The latter point was a big factor in slowing down and finally virtually ending my collecting drive!

WOA: It’s probably fair to assume you’re going to have rather more free time (and room in the house!) after this sale, so what’s next? Any plans to treat yourself or are you going to start collecting anything else?!

AB: I was always into photography, so when I retired I started bird watching and bird photography. That gets me out and about regularly and I have seen bits of Britain that I never expected to visit. I will be treating my wife and myself to a couple of birding holidays in exotic locations with some of the auction proceeds and will hopefully buy a new camera in due course. With grandchildren now the emptying of my whisky room will generate another spare bedroom when needed!

WOA: Many thanks for talking to us and letting us in on your tips and stories, Alex – Good luck in the sale and your future adventures!

We’ve got a big job on our hands to collate and organise this very exciting collection and get it ready for sale – watch this space for more details on what is sure to be the mini auction to ever hit the market!

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April Auction: SMWS Collection

Our April auction is upon us and we’ve got a very special group of lots – a remarkable collection of over seventy rare old bottlings from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society sourced from a private collector in Macclesfield. Most of these bottles were bought in the 1990s and there are some very rare editions from highly-sought after distilleries.

If you’re not very familiar with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, here’s a few facts to get you going and to explain why we’re so excited about this collection.

  • The Society was founded in Edinburgh in 1983 and is therefore celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. In those 35 years the Society has grown enormously and is now represented, at last count, in 21 countries outside the UK.
  • The Society began as a private club led by Pip Hills, who had been cycling around Scotland visiting distilleries for some years. Hills clubbed together with some friends to buy a cask of Glenfarclas which they would share and drink together. The remainder of that cask became the first Society bottling when the club was formally established in 1983.
  • The Society’s original premises are at The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh. A London bar and tasting venue was purchased in 1996 with the proceeds of a share scheme for members, while a second Edinburgh venue was established in 2004 at 28 Queen Street, in the same year that the Society was purchased by Glenmorangie.  The Society was sold in 2015 to a consortium of private investors.
  • SMWS single malts have always been bottled at full strength from single casks, without dilution, chill-filtration or additional colouring.  These practices were very unusual in 1983 but are now common among independent bottlers.
  • Distillery names are never mentioned on Society bottlings.  Instead, each whisky is identified by a two number code and occasional clues in Society publications. The first number represents the distillery, and the second identifies the cask. Therefore, the first bottling from the first distillery was 1.1, while 43.10 is the tenth bottling from the 43rd distillery. Lists of which numbers represent which distilleries are widely available on the internet but have never been confirmed by the Society.
  • Casks are chosen by the Society’s Tasting Panel, who approve each bottling and compose concise tasting notes to be published on the label and in the Society’s in-house magazine. As each bottling is from a single cask, expressions from the most popular distilleries sell out very quickly.

Now you’re up to speed on the key facts, here’s a small selection of the highlights from our auction this month. There’s a few areas of interest as follows:

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Old vintages: Highlights here include a pair of Bruichladdichs from 1968 and 1969, a Glen Garioch 1968, a Glenturret 1969, and one of the absolute standout lots, a 26 year old Ardbeg 1966 – the last bottle of this we had sold for £1600 over two years ago, so who knows what this will end up going for.

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Low Cask Numbers: These are always highly sought-after and are hard to come by as many were bottled long before collecting whisky became popular. There are a lot of these in this fantastic collection, including the first ever SMWS bottlings of Glen Scotia, Craigellachie and the incredibly rare Glencraig (distilled on a Lomond still at Glenburgie). There’s also the second bottlings from Clynelish, Glen Ord, Miltonduff, Glenturret, and the closed distilleries Imperial and Glenugie. Bidding on all of these lots will be absolutely fierce.

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Closed or Rare Distilleries: We’ve got single-digit casks from closed distilleries including Dallas Dhu, Millburn, North Port and another standout lot: SMWS 61.3, distilled in 1977 at Brora. There are also several bottles from distilleries that are rarely bottled independently, including Dalmore, Talisker, Isle of Jura, Scapa, Glenlossie, Royal Brackla and Lagavulin.

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Popular Distilleries: Clearly our collector had very good taste, as there are some mouth-watering lots from great distilleries.  We particularly like the look of long-aged Clynelish 1983 and 1976, and the Ardbeg 1977 and 1974 – these classic vintages will be fought over, as will Brora 1981, Highland Park 1976, Laphroaig 1978, Caol Ila 1983, heavily sherried expressions from Ben Nevis and Glenglassaugh (both from the 1984 vintage) and the special edition society bottlings: Longrow 1990 – the first release from Longrow, bottled for the Millennium, another Longrow 1990 bottled for the opening of the Queen Street venue and last, but certainly not least, the famous Glen Grant 1972 bottled in 2001 for the Society’s 18th anniversary.

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We’ve only really scratched the surface here – there are dozens more fantastic SMWS single malts available from this amazing collection in our auction this month. Check them out now, there really is something for everyone. Good Luck and Happy Bidding!

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April Auction Highlights 2018

Whisky-Online Auctions April 2018 Auction Is Now Live!
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Highlighting our April auction is an impressive haul of over 70 Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottlings. This collection was acquired over many years by the vendor, mainly from the mid 1990s through to the early 2000s  – he purchased them directly from the SMWS and enjoyed just as many bottlings that’s currently up for auction. You will find numerous interesting and unusual examples, many of which have quirky tasting notes which we have highlighted on each lot from the stack of original SMWS newsletters that were issued to members at the time of release. A few of our favourites include this 1966 Ardbeg 33.13; described as Sweet, sour and Phenolic and originally cost a mere £48 in 1992. A 1968 Glen Garioch 19.18, this one is described as an explosion of spice with bitter coffee. Hot on the heels of this is a 1969 Bruichladdich 23.9 that appears to be from a sherry cask.

From the 1970s casks there’s a whole host of brilliant releases, starting with a hot and fiery 1976 Clynelish 26.25 quickly followed by a 1977 Brora 61.3 which has been quoted ”Lagavulin by another name?”. And my personal favourite a 1978 Laphroaig 29.7 which was highlighted as a (Best Buy) in the 1995 Autumn Bottlings costing at the time a trivial £47. This was summed up as ”Sweet sherry and light fruitiness over smoke”. Sounds like a classic old Laphroaig that will be as brilliant as with the 1976 & 1977 further down.

Onto the 1980s and there’s a few nice sherried expressions such as this 1984 Ben Nevis 78.14; highlighted in the 1998 Christmas issue quoted with ”Fruit soaked in alcohol”. Another 1984, this time a Glenglassaugh 21.18 – It’s a Sherry cask; released in early summer 2001 under (Closed Distillery) Staff Shorts: ”Rum and raisin ice cream with fruit flan; if you like sherried whiskies, you’ll love this”. and finally a 1987 Highland Park 4.71; from a first-fill sherry butt. This was released for the 2001 New Year Bottlings and has been highlighted as the (Chairmans Choice). This is just a small slice of the collection, so head over to our site to view the full catalogue.

We’re pleased to auction yet another full cask held in bond. The cask available is a 1993 Hogshead of Bruichladdich which would currently yield approximately 110 x 70cl bottles of whisky at 42.6% currently at 25 years old. This is an extremely fresh and drinkable Bruichladdich. Very much an afternoon kind of whisky. The lower strength does not hinder the texture or overtly enhance the tannin, rather it helps elevate the softer cereal and citrus fruit tones throughout the whisky. A cask that demands to be bottled imminently due to the strength, but will yield a highly enjoyable and approachable dram.

Featuring for the first time this year is the magnificent 1955 40-year-old Bowmore – In cask this has seen seven different distillery managers. It started life in a Bourbon Hogshead, 20 years later it was transferred to a carefully selected Sherry Butt, it was then left to mature for a further 20 years. The outcome is a pinnacle of it’s kind. The decanter and wooden presentation both reflect similar care and attention to detail as the liquid itself. Using traditional skills each decanter has been individually blown, hand cut and engraved by the artists of Caithness Glass. Each decanter is individually numbered and has been created to reflect images of the traditional Bowmore bottle. The individual oak presentation case has been handmade by the Master Cabinet Makers of Charles Kirkby & sons. These skills combined are the result of a pure pedigree.

Up next is the 1948 51-year-old is one of the all time great Macallans and considered in the same league as the 1949 Millennium 50 year old and many of the greatest Fine & Rare releases; this is one of the most sublime whiskies ever released by this distillery. This along with the 1946 don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve and like for like seem like a bargain in the current market.

An increasingly hard to find bottling of stunning 1968 sherry matured Glendronach that was sold exclusively through All Nippon Airways (ANA). This one is cask number 06 which we have never auctioned before. This example is in excellent condition with a perfectly preserved filling level.

Two highly desirable official Laphroaig’s from the mid 1990s. The rumour is the casks for these two bottlings were purchased back by the distillery from a private cask owner. Renowned for their intense fruity and peaty profile. Very much like you find in old Bowmore’s. These don’t turn up in auction much, so this is a great opportunity to acquire both vintages and if you’re brave enough, you could do an epic head to head.

 

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

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March Auction Highlights 2018

Whisky-Online Auctions Third Auction Of 2018 Is Now Live!
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Back in the glory days not many distilleries had the facilities to bottle their own liquid and the likes of Macallan in particular would appoint independent companies such as Gordon & MacPhail with a licence to undertake what occasionally would be a laborious task. The perfect example can be seen with these two handwritten labels which were bottled in the early 1980s. These whiskies may appear the same but they tell two totally different stories. We have one example distilled before the War and another distilled some years after the War. However, what they do have in common is that they were both distilled when the distillery was still running with just two stills. The 1938 is considered one of the finest expressions from this time for its often unique peat flavours. Where the 1950 is equally impressive with more delicately oily and softer fruit complexities and metallic notes in place of the earlier phenolic styles. These older Macallan are not been produced anymore and as the years go by they seem to be getting thinner and thinner in auction.

Fast forward several decades and not only are Gordon & MacPhail still bottling Macallan, they’re also maturing their own stock. Over the years G&M have bottled some mind-blowing whiskies including examples under their Speymalt series which is solely dedicated for Macallan. This series has seriously been underestimated over the years. If you dig deep you will realise the majority of these whiskies are from single casks and are bottled at a significant age. In this sale you will find example from 1950 to 1991.

This months auction features two beautiful and remarkably crisp Bowmore’s. Both of them were distilled on 16th June 1973. The casks selected between both bottles are a run of continuous sherry casks (5173 & 51745175 & 5176) which are said to be the last remaining butts of the 1973 vintage. 1973 was the very start of a historical change in the style of Bowmore. Whisky produced was still of a high standard but was characterised by a noticeable taming of its previous qualities. As with all distilleries modernisation played a part but, crucially at Bowmore, it was the dramatic increase in production levels that would contribute to what some might argue was a compromise between quality and quantity. If you desire that pure immense tropical fruit character 1960s Bowmore has to offer, we have a rather tasty Sherriff’s.

A Highland Park that certainly doesn’t appear in auction regularly. A 1968 single cask bottled at 35 years of age. This is an official bottling produced for World Duty Free in 2003. Only 546 bottles were bottled at 51.2%. And a 1973 Dalmore finished in what they call the ”King of Grapes” Cabernet Sauvignon from the Chateau Haut-Marbuzet of Saint Estephe. This is a limited release of 1000 bottles.

The 1972 Brora has become a bit of a phenomena in the world of whisky and these examples under the Rare Malt’s label seem to rule them all. Like most whiskies today these are slowly drying up for two reasons. One is down to the fact many of these were consumed in the early days due to their crazy low retail prices and secondly both drinkers and collectors are becoming much more educated. This calibre of whisky deserves the status it has attained over the last 20+ years whereas the same can’t be said about many of the new hyped up releases we see being produced today.

We don’t generally mention modern releases such as this Glenmorangie, however, we’re partial to a bit of golf. And what’s more fitting than Glenmorangie & Dornoch. The whisky is a 16 year old from an ex Oloroso cask that has been specially commissioned by the distillery to celebrate 400 years of golf in Dornoch. Glenmorangie rarely produce single casks anymore so regardless of the occasion this is a great release.

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

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