Category Archives: Auction

NOVEMBER AUCTION RESULTS 2018

November whisky auction results

Our most recent auction revealed a quirky mix of results. For starters, the Macallan 1990 hogshead in bond finished up at £49,500 which, in the context of recent results for bonded casks of Macallan of this age, appears somewhat middling. Although, in a wider context it is still mightily impressive given how swiftly the market has elevated these kinds of casks to such levels of value.

For the top end bottles, it was more business as usual. The Black Bowmore 1st Edition hit an online record of £17,600. Unsurprising in many ways given the weight of the iconography that now surrounds this series, not to mention the fact this is one of the rare examples of this bottling with a fill level still into the neck. Still, the greatest of the Black Bowmore bottlings and most likely will always remain the most sought after by collectors and drinkers alike. I doubt it will be long before we see this one comfortably above 20k.

Similarly, the 1964 Fino 37-year-old Bowmore continued its steady climb ever skywards with a healthy £14,600 result. Once again the legendary nature of the whisky in this series of bottlings all but guarantees it will never decrease in price for the foreseeable future. Another one that will no doubt break the 20k barrier quite soon.

Perhaps more interesting were the Brora 40-year-old and the Ardbeg 1965 which fetched £12,900 and £9300 respectively. The Brora is extremely highly regarded as a whisky – often considered one of, if not the, greatest Broras ever bottled. Little wonder it has nearly doubled its original retail price. The Ardbeg, however, is probably amongst the least highly regarded examples of aged Ardbeg from the 60s or 70s amongst the official releases. Although some way above its original price tag now, it has taken a long time to get there. Just goes to show the power of reputation and the effect it can have on the rapidity of price increase.

Other interesting examples around the top end of the sale were the Macallan 25-year-old crystal decanter for a hefty £3300, although hardly surprising for Macallan these days. While the Signatory bottling of Glenfarclas 1958 40-year-old for their 10th Anniversary which hit £3100 showed just how much traction this distillery now has at auction. The same can be said for the Glenugie 1980 Cadenhead White Label dark sherry release for Oddbins in the 1990s. Its hammer price of £2600 is a long way from the £400-600 it regularly fetched only a year or so ago.

Back to bonded casks and the results for the Tullibardines were interesting. £5300 and £3100 respectively for the sherry and bourbon casks. While nowhere near the 1990 Macallan this is still pricey for casks of Tullibardine. These prices mean that someone selling these whiskies once bottled would need to be thinking about a price tag nudging into three figures per bottle. That’s a lot for 12-year-old Tullibardine.

Elsewhere around the upper end of the sale the extremely rare Glenlochy 1958 26-year-old Cadenhead Dumpy fetched £2050 which almost seems like a bargain for such an amazing bottle. Just goes to show there are still wee bargains to be found in every sale – even at such heights.

The Springbank 12-year-old 100 proof bottling from the 1990s continued to show potency at auction with a price of £1550. Once again, how long before this bottling regularly trades above the 2k mark? The name Samaroli continues from strength to strength with the Longrow 1987 Dreams bottling finishing up at an impressive £1400. Interestingly a full hundred pounds above the Glen Moray 1959 40-year-old’s £1300. Very different whiskies but interesting to see where their values sit. Other notable results around this price level were the Bunnahabhain 1966 35-year-old which fetched £1100, good to see such a great whisky getting serious recognition. The same can be said for the Glen Garioch 1971 Oddbins bottling at £1100.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dipping below this level and another older bottling that is starting to move north in price after a long static period is the Caol Ila 20-year-old 150th-anniversary bottling. Anyone who has ever tasted this one shouldn’t be surprised to see it nudging up to £775. No doubt it still has further to go.

Other prices that jump out include a Springbank 21-year-old tall bottle for £600, a Macallan 12-year-old litre for £625, a Bruichladdich 21-year-old cask strength with a lower level for £500 and a Springbank 15-year-old 1980s edition for £700! On the flip side, the bargain of the sale was undoubtedly a cask strength 1956 Smith’s Glenlivet for £450. Some other good value bottles were the Collector’s Item 1955 20-year-old Bourbon for £290, the SMWS 1978 Glenugie 17.5cl bottling for £310 and a beautiful 1930s Spey Royal half bottle for £165.

Overall there were perhaps a few more bargains, or at least ‘drinkably priced’ bottles towards the lower ranges of this sale. Even if it was generally the same story for more serious bottles at the mid and upper ranges of the sale. As ever, for the most sought-after bottlings, the prices are spiralling away into the stratosphere as we’ve come to expect. But the overall impression was a slightly more refreshing one than usual for those of us who like to scrabble about looking for the more reasonably priced ‘openable’ bottles. Good news and nice to see there are still some inklings of balance to today’s secondary market. Even if they remain fleeting.

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NOVEMBER AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Auction closes 28th November from 8 pm.

Black Bowmore 1964
1st Edition

If there’s ever a whisky worthy of the word ‘legendary’, it has to be the Black Bowmore. And if you’re ever going to splash out and buy one, I would certainly look no further than this example. Sadly, the Black Bowmore’s are usually notorious victims to the ‘Angel’s Share’ and particularly the first editions; which many have been officially re-sealed over the years due to their wax seals. But not this one.

This particular bottle has been in the pipeline for some time now and on our recent trip to Scotland, we managed to secure it for our November sale. It has been in the sellers’ possession for many years where it has been stored and cared for perfectly. It’s almost impossible to find these in such pristine condition with such a well preserved filling level these days.

Ardbeg 1965 + Matching Miniature
Museum Edition

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.

Old, official Ardbeg’ seem to be a thing of the past these days. There’s hardly any hitting the market; to put things into perspective, we’ve sold less than a handful this year. Which is rather scary! Where are they? Are they stuck in collections? Or are they being consumed? Who knows; but one thing is for sure, their supply is very thin indeed. This is a great opportunity to secure yourself one of the most desirable Ardbge’s ever released.

Port Ellen 1979
1st Release

Here’s another distillery bottling we’re seeing less and less of on the market –  we’ve had our fair share of these over the years, but the last time the First Release appeared in one of our auctions was back in February 2017. This displays how scares these official Port Ellen’s are becoming and if you think about the recognition this distillery holds, as well as its history, it’s bewildering where these stand in the current market. It’s not only a historic bottling, but the liquid itself stands up to its status.

Port Ellen 1st Release

Casks Held In Bond

This month we have three casks that are currently maturing in bond, in Scotland. Up first is a 1990 Macallan; It is an excellent cask, and at times unusual in a good way, example of Macallan. One which feels ready now and would probably not benefit from too much further ageing. The strength and flavours are all evenly matched and well integrated. A good, very tasty whole that outweighs the sum of its parts. Read full tasting notes »

Then we have two 2005 Tullibardine’s: Cask 186 is a fascinating cask. Unlike most other contemporary Tullibardine’s. This one shows real individuality, great texture and a beguiling fruitiness. Could easily be bottled now or left to age for at least another decade quite comfortably. A very fun style of whisky that should make for a great conversation stoker. Read full tasting notes »

2005 Tullibardine whisky cask for auction

While cask 267 is an excellent, clean and richly flavoured sherry cask which has served this Tullibardine well. Would continue to mature well for at least another decade. Read full tasting notes »

Tullibardine whisky cask for sale

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

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Alex Barclay Miniature Auction Part 3

Whisky Miniature Auction Now Live!

It’s time for the third of our auctions dedicated to the miniature collection of Alex Barclay, president of the Mini Bottle Club.  Back in the summer, the team travelled to Birmingham to collect over 5,000 miniatures from Alex – the collection is so large that we’re splitting it into five auctions of around 1,000 bottles each. You can read more about Alex and his incredible collection in our interview with the man himself here.

Malts Of Scotland

This month’s auction features hundreds of miniatures from one of the more recent arrivals on the independent bottling scene: Malts of Scotland. This German company was only established in 2005 but they’ve had a big impact in a short time, and won the Independent Bottler of The Year from Whisky Magazine’s Independent Bottlers Challenge in 2016.

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You’ll have to check out the auction itself to find all the amazing MoS bottlings, but a few very interesting lots caught our eye.  Some of the oldest malts include the Lochside 1967, the Glenrothes 1968 and the Bunnahabhain 1966 – the latter one of only 48 minis produced. Islay fans, meanwhile, will be excited to see the sherried Port Ellen 1982 and Caol Ila 1979, as well as the more recent Laphroaig 1990, sherried Bowmore 1995 and sherried Port Charlotte 2001. All of these bottlings are at natural cask strength, with the PC bottled at a very hefty 66.1%.

Other highlights from Malts of Scotland include a wide selection of drams from distilleries that are rarely seen outside of official bottlings, such as the Macallan 1989 and ‘Talimburg’ 1994, plus a rare (misspelled) ‘Ayreshire’ 1992 single grain – presumably from Girvan – and world whiskies such as the Paul John 2009, Heaven Hill 2001 and the intriguing Tullahoma 2011 Tennessee Bourbon 2011, most likely George Dickel.

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Irish Whiskey

The other major theme of this month’s auction is Irish Whiskey and as you would expect from a collector of Alex’s stature there are some absolutely astonishing bottles.

From the familiar names we have some incredibly old and rare Jameson’s, including a  war-era Jameson 7yo, ‘Made only from Barley, Malt, Wheat and Oats’!  There’s also a 1930s Jameson 7yo and a clear glass US import Jameson 7yo 1926-1934.  We also have some very rare Jamesons bottled under license by various Irish grocers and wine merchants, such as the Jameson Vat 10 for O’Malley’s in Limerick and the beautiful Mooney’s Extra Superior.

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It’s not just about Jameson’s, of course – there are very collectable examples from other well-known brands including Paddy’s 10yo, Gilbey’s Redbreast 12yo and a very old Power’s bottled for Aer Lingus.  

The real gems, however, are the ancient old blends and pot still whiskeys.  As is sadly often the case with very old miniatures, some of the bottles have low fill levels, but we know that collectors understand the value of these bottles as beautiful historical objects in their own right.

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A few of the dozens of fantastic old Irish minis: from Belfast, there’s Kirker & Greer’s Shamrock Whiskey or the ancient Irish Whiskey Company (another wonderful label), then there are US imports such as Mitchell’s Shamrock 14yo and Original Irish; and curiosities such as the Ballyhooley Whisky – a blend of Scottish and Irish whisk(e)ys with its own tasting cup – or the splendidly cheesy Leprechaun ‘As distilled in the glen by the little green men’.

The absolute stars of the Irish side of this auction, though, are the miniatures from the long-extinct Brusna distillery, better known as Locke’s and Kilbeggan. Kilbeggan is Ireland’s oldest distillery, founded in 1757, but production stopped in the 1954 and the distillery was closed in its bicentennial year, 1957. We have a trio of these wonderful miniatures: Locke’s Old Kilbeggan 15yo, Locke’s Liqueur and John Locke & Co. Pure Pot Still, with a drawing of the distillery on the label.

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Elsewhere in the auction, there are plenty of excellent OB single malts, including Glenturret 1965 and Glenmorangie 1963 and dozens of Glenlivets and Glenfarclases (Glenfarcli?). I particularly liked this Glenfarclas for the Aquascutum Club and the Ross’s Rare Old Glenlivet 12yo.  Once again, there’s truly something for everyone in this month’s miniature auction – Good Luck and Happy Bidding!

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OCTOBER AUCTION RESULTS 2018

October whisky auction results

Another raft of impressive prices were realised in our latest auction. The top item was, as expected, the cask of 1989 Macallan which fetched £90,100 – slightly higher than recent similar Macallan casks suggesting they may well be on the rise again as appetite remains undimmed. Perhaps more tellingly was the full set of Millennium Springbanks which hit £21,100, a record for this set by some distance. Given the way, prices have been going for older Springbanks recently this is hardly surprising. Hard to believe you could pick up a complete set for under £6000 a couple of years ago.

A second edition Black Bowmore was similarly impressive at £13,100. Although, given the track record of this series in recent times, these kinds of results are no longer that surprising. Neither was the £8400 paid for the Sherriff’s Bowmore 8-year-old pear-shaped. A stunning whisky of legendary repute which explains the serious prices people are clearly willing to pay for such a whisky. These kinds of bottles will likely never be cheaper again given their scarcity.

Sherriss's Bowmore

The upper end of the auction

In fact, the whole upper end of the auction was a string of examples of these kinds of serious yet unsurprising prices for remarkable bottles. The UK version of the famed Samaroli Springbank 12-year-old at £10,100 is another perfect example. As is the Jura 1964 Cadenhead Dumpy for £3300. It seems these days that any bottle of seriously perceived whisky that rarely sees the secondary market is bound to fetch a hefty four-figure sum minimum. With many increasingly entering the five-figure range – some jumping there with rather staggering speed in recent months.

Of course, it isn’t only malts that impress. Famous blended brands such as the Islay Mist also do exceptionally well whenever they turn up – the 1950s bottling at £3600 being a particularly rare and pristine example. Given the repute of these whiskies, I’d almost say this price was on the soft side but it’s probably best not to start getting into the mindset of £3600 for a bottle of whisky being cheap.

The Macallans were all as you might expect price wise, as was the 1970s Laphroaig 10-year-old at £2150. Perhaps more interesting was the Ardbeg Provenance at £2250. It has taken a slow and winding time for the Provenances to reach this price point and they do seem slightly out of kilter with the more expensive sibling Ardbeg bottlings from the late 1990s. Given the quality of the Provenance whiskies, I wonder if they aren’t going to jump up another level in price within the next six months or so?

One of the most beautiful bottles in the sale was no doubt the Old Pulteney bottled by Cadenhead in the 1960s at 85 proof. A stunning and rarely seen whisky, this one is one of a few of this bottling that have found their way to market over the past year or so which explains it’s slightly softer £1800 result. However, this is still an impressive price which demonstrates the demand for older bottlings from the famous bottlers such as Cadenhead. Especially unusual ones such as this Pulteney.

Old Pulteney Cadenheads

The Lagavulin Syndicate 38-year-olds are all holding well at £1550. Once the initial supply of these bottles to the market has dried up I suspect the price of this one will start to climb fairly significantly. Something of a surprise at the same price tag was the Littlemill 1964 32-year-old distillery bottling from the 1990s. No doubt the recent uptick in interest for Littlemill and other closed distilleries, in general, helped this one along its way.

Demand for older Gordon & MacPhail bottlings also appears to remain undimmed with the Talisker 1967 100 Proof and the Highland Park St Magnus fetching £1550 and £1500 respectively. These are hefty prices, but given the great filling levels, general condition of the bottles and stunning reputations of the whiskies, these seem like fair prices for these whiskies in today’s market. If you can afford to bid at these price levels I think these are no-brainer bottles to go for.

Talisker 1967 100 proof Highland Park St Magnus Label

 

Results around the £1,000

Other notable results around the £1000 mark were the 1966 Macallan Speymalt by Gordon & MacPhail at £1300. A strong result for this bottling and maybe a sign of higher interest in Speymalt series – an inevitability given their repute, content and the price of similarly aged official Macallans.

There was the Laphroaig 1968 Hart Brothers at £1250, the Ardbeg 1974 Signatory at £1300 and the Springbank 1979 Cadenhead white label at £1150. All of which were strong results for these particular bottlings.

Going down through the middle of the sale stand out results include the Signatory 1974 Bowmore at £825, the Glendronach 1960 23-year-old Connoisseur’s Choice at £825 and the Glen Garioch 1970 27-year-old single cask for £825. All of which are something of a climb on recent results for these bottlings.

The Lagavulin 1984 – 1995 SMWS 111.3 bottling at £800 also demonstrates just how powerful the combination of a big name distillery and a rarely seen SMWS bottle number can be. A similar whisky of that age and vintage from another bottler wouldn’t have climbed that high. Just as a 1960s bottle of Jameson Crested Ten Irish Whiskey at £725 demonstrated that demand for older Irish Whiskeys is starting to increase significantly. No doubt the surge of excellent older bottlings on the market, coupled with increased global interest and many new distilleries starting up is fuelling new collector interest.

Lagavulin SMWS 111.3 Jameson Crested Ten

Even in today’s market Macallan can continue to surprise. A pair of standard 1990’s 10-year-olds at £575 apiece seems eye-wateringly daft. Especially when there’s a Highland Park 1973 SMWS 4.87 just beneath it for £525.

All in all, this was a strong sale with a wide spread of excellent bottles – quite a few of them scarcely seen in today’s secondary market. As a result, prices were pretty high across the board. Even for bottlings, you might not think much of on the face of it. For example, a 1978 21-year-old Glenlossie at £310 seems pretty steep. But this just demonstrates the breadth of the buying audience that exists around the world for good old malt whiskies these days. It doesn’t look as if things are going to change anytime soon. Until next time.

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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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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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SEPTEMBER AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Macallan 65-year-old in Lalique

After over 10 years since the first release of the 50-year-old back in 2006, the collaboration with Macallan & Lalique has come a long way. This Macallan 65-year-old is the final release in the series and completes the Six Pillars collection. At the time of its release in 2016, this was one of the oldest and rarest whiskies the distillery had to boast. Drawn from ex-Sherry casks we can only imagine the flavours such whisky has to offer.  Lalique’s contribution was inspired by Rene Lalique’s legacy, Marc Larminaux. The design is based around a single peerless drop of The Macallan. These were limited to 450 Worldwide.

Bowmore 1964 Fino Sherry Cask

Part of a legendary trilogy of different wood matured 1964 Bowmore’s. This, along with pretty much any Bowmore distilled in 1964 is regarded among the best whisky ever bottled. A stunning bottling and an absolutely exquisite whisky.

Cask Held In Bond

We have yet another Tobermory cask up for auction in this sale.  This is a really excellent, characterful Tobermory. Devoid of any of this distillery’s usual problematic cardboard or overly mashy or grainy notes. This is lean, medical, muscular and well-defined. The kind of cask which is. Continue reading »

Managers Drams

We have a haul of Managers Drams in this sale ranging from the Cardhu bottled in 1998  through to the Knockando bottled 2012.

This series is becoming harder and harder to obtain due to the fact they’re highly collectable and particularly very good quality. As more and more realise how good these whiskies are, the prices will only continue to climb as we’ve seen in the last several months.

Ones to look out for that I’ve tried amongst this bunch include the Cardhu bottled at a hefty 63% and quite easily the two Oban’s. Particularly the 16-year-old sherry cask bottled for the distilleries Bicentenary. This one tops the Cardhu with a strength of 64% but does not need interfering with any water whatsoever.

Rare Malts Selection

Joining the Managers Drams is another pinnacle series under the house of Diageo. The Rare Malts Selection. First launched back in 1995 to champion their rare stock – interestingly it was not just to showcase long aged whiskies but instead to display each distilleries best qualities in their natural form. In this sale, you will find a small selection of some of the more desirable examples. Including a 1970 St Magdalene 58.1%, a 1971 Glenury Royal 61.3%, a 1971 Hillside 62.0%, and a 1973 Cardhu 60.5% – this is one of the hardest to find strength variants in the Rare Malts series and hardly ever turns up in auction. And finally a 1975 Brora 54.9% & 1982 58.1%.

First Ever Bottling Of Distillery 111
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

From the Archives. The distillery stands close to the ruins of Dunyvaig castle, once the stronghold of the Lord of the Isles. Here is a great opportunity to see just how different the cask makes in the flavour of mature whisky.

Wetsuits and burnt toast
This whisky is quite different from the next one. It has spent the last 15 years in a first-fill, Spanish oak dry-oloroso butt. Its colour is that of old Madeira (or polished mahogany). The neat nose is redolent of sherry, with some soap flakes and fudge. With water an extraordinary scent of neoprene (the stuff wetsuits are made of) is first noted, then a trace of marzipan, exotic smoke, caramelised sugar heather stalks, sea tangle, burnt toast. Winter smells. Great with smoked salmon, or upon retiring from a walk.

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

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Alex Barclay Miniature Auction Part 2

Auction 2 of 5

It’s time for the next instalment of our auctions dedicated to the Alex Barclay Miniature Collection. A couple of months ago, Wayne, Harrison & Sarah travelled to Birmingham to collect over 5000 miniatures from Alex Barclay, president of the Mini Bottle Club. The collection is so large that we are splitting it into five auctions of around a thousand bottles each. For more information about Alex’s extraordinary collection, check out our exclusive interview on the blog here.

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This month’s selection includes a very large number of miniatures from two of the UK’s best independent bottlers: Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory.  Both of these companies were well ahead of the game and have played important roles in creating the market for single malt whiskies as we know it today, so of course there are some absolutely fantastic bottles up for sale in this auction.

The headline minis in this month’s auction include some very rare old vintage malts from highly sought-after distilleries.

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Gordon & Macphail were the de facto official bottlers of Macallan for many years, and the auction has several great examples, including the high strength Macallan 100 Proof, Macallan 15yo 100 Proof and a very rare 4cl version of Macallan 15yo 100 Proof for Italy.  They also bottled what is widely believed to be Macallan as the Pride of Strathspey – there’s a wonderful 1937 Pride of Strathspey 50yo included this month.  Not to be outdone, Signatory, who are also famous for their vintage bottlings, have this cask strength Macallan 1964 bottled early in the company’s history in 1992.

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Staying with blue chip distilleries and there are some fabulous 50 year-olds from Gordon & MacPhail, including three Mortlachs from 1936, 1938 and 1939 and a Glenlivet 1940, all with the Book of Kells-style font.  These are in great condition considering they were bottled thirty years ago in the mid to late 1980s.

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Gordon & MacPhail were also early bottlers of Talisker, and there are a few of their iconic bottlings including this Talisker 100 Proof from the famous black label ‘Eagle’ series and a couple of lovely Talisker 1955 Cask Strength bottlings from 1992 and 1993.

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Both G&M and Signatory have 1967 Laphroaigs in this auction as well, with the G&M Laphroaig 1967 an early brown label Connoisseurs Choice bottling from the early 1980s  and the Signatory bottling a cask strength Laphroaig 1967 bottled in 1995.

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There are hundreds more brilliant single malts available from both these bottlers in this month’s auction, with very rare experimental drams from Mosstowie and Glen Craig, seldom-seen long-dead distilleries including Coleburn, Convalmore, Glen Flagler, Kinclaith and Ben Wyvis and, of course, a slew of highly desirable drams from more familiar ghost distilleries such as Port Ellen, Rosebank, Lochside and Brora.  

The really rare stars of this auction, though are even older. The depth of Alex’s collection never ceases to amaze us and this is illustrated best by the amazing old blends and single malts from the 1950s, ‘40s and even earlier.  

72799-1033-1The headline-grabbers here are a pair of minis blended using whisky from Orkney’s fabled Stromness distillery, which closed in 1928 and was demolished during the 1940s: Old Orkney and Old Orkney Relics Grand 12yo, the latter a truly beautiful bottle that sadly has preserved only a small amount of its original contents.

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These treasures line up alongside more familiar gems including brilliantly-preserved examples of White Horse 1956, King George IV, Black & White, a fantastic, very rare Cardow (Cardhu) bottled late 1950s or early ‘60s, a stunning old Islay Mist in incredible condition and a gorgeous, very old Ainslie & Heilbron’s King’s Liqueur. More esoteric ancient treasures include an antique Strathmohr (not to be confused with the later Strathmore) and the medicinally-themed Special Fortification. We don’t know very much about this one, other than it’s very old and the label is wonderful – many of Alex’s miniatures are real works of art.

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There’s really something for everyone in this month’s auction! Good Luck, and Happy Bidding.

 

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AUGUST AUCTION RESULTS 2018

Our latest auction closed with more than a few surprises. Not least around the upper end of the sale where the top lot was, unsurprisingly, a hogshead of 1989 Macallan. However, with a hammer price of £70,200, it suggests that prices are beginning to cool off a little for bonded stocks of whisky, certainly in comparison to other recent results we’ve achieved for Macallan casks. Although, it’s worth remembering with this cask that the ABV was rather critically low, which no doubt was reflected in the price.  Putting this in perspective, £70,200 is still way above what would have been, until very recently, considered standard market value for such a cask in bond.

On the flip side, £25,600 for a cask of 1994 Tobermory seems surprisingly expensive, even in today’s market, for a less widely lauded make such as Tobermory. Somewhat understandably cask 5015 was a butt and cask 39, which fetched £17,100 a hogshead, even though, that’s still a hefty price for 1994 Tobermory. Further evidence that no matter what cask you’re sitting on, if it’s got a bit of age to it, you could be in for a pretty nice surprise at auction. It’s certainly an easy way to capitalise without the hassle and cost of bottling. 

On to the bottles and it was good to see Bowmore back at the top of the sale. The ‘coulours’ trilogy of Black, Gold and White seem rather unstoppable these days with respective prices of £18,700, £11,900 and £14,100. All of them outstripping even the Macallan 1946 at £11,100. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to taste one of these bottlings of Bowmore, it’s not hard to see where such intense prices come from. These are some of the best and most distinctive spirits ever made by human hand in these bottles. 

One of the biggest surprises of this auction, at first glance, is the Springbank 1965 SMWS 27.7 which fetched a rather staggering £6100. Even for a 60s Springbank, this is eye-catching stuff. However, look a bit closer and do a bit of digging and it becomes a bit more understandable. This bottling hasn’t shown up at auction in years and, at 60.2%, it looks to be a pretty remarkable dram. There are numerous series collectors out there for all manner of SMWS bottlings these days so it’s hardly surprising that when such a tasty rarity surfaces, in today’s bullish market, competition is so fierce. 

Other rather striking results which speak to the nature of today’s secondary market include the old 1960s official bottling of ‘Cardow 100% Pot Still‘ which finished up at £5800. Such a rarity in near immaculate condition was always destined to do well so in many ways this isn’t so surprising. Although it is a sobering reminder of just how much of rich man’s game serious old and rare whisky has become. 

Joining the Cardhu was the uber rare bottling of Macallan 12-year-old at 100 proof by Gordon & MacPhail bottled in 1971. There is a 15-year-old version of this which is slightly more common, but the 12 is indeed the definition of scarcity. This pristinely preserved version deserved its £5100 hammer price. What’s more, it was nice to see a non-official Macallan take one of the top Macallan spots in the auction for once. For serious whisky lovers, this is a dream bottling. 

Speaking of dream bottles, perhaps the most beautiful examples in this sale were the pair of Taliskers bottled in the 1950s by Wolverhampton & Dudley. Examples have shown up in the distant past at auction, but to find two such perfect examples today is really like being handed something out of a time warp. Little wonder they fetched £4600 a piece. The kind of bottle you’d kill to taste. 

Other bottles in the upper end of the sale that stuck out were the official Springbank 1965 Local Barley for £3000. Looking at the prices of 60s Springbanks in general, both here, elsewhere and at retail. It seems there is something of a pretty serious upward shift in prices occurring across the board. I doubt it’ll be long before we start to see these kinds of bottles regularly break the five-figure barrier. 

The 50-year-old 1949 Glen Grant by Ian MacLeod at £2900 was a solid result for this bottling. While the Glenugie 1966 by The Bottlers for £2700 was also seriously impressive. Glenugie is another name which is currently rocketing skywards in price. For anyone who has tasted some of these 60s Glenugies, it is hardly surprising. 

Dalmore 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lagavulin 1979 38 year old by the Syndicate and the Laphroaig 19.0 anniversary bottling all hit the £2000 on the head. For the Lagavulin, it was the first time it had gone this high, which suggests a slow and steady climb even higher from here on out. The Dalmore result shows this distillery still had some serious clout at auction, even for what might be considered less impressive bottlings like the 1973. And for the Laphroaig, it’s generally a case of rarity with this bottling. Most were consumed upon release due to the lottery system under which it was sold. Whenever it shows up at auction there is usually a bit of a scuffle to get it. 

Some other notable results above the £1000 mark were the Bunnahabhain 1968 Auld Acquaintance at £1350, how long before this great bottling hits the £2000 mark? A Macallan 1962 Cadenhead Dumpy looks almost cheap at the same price of £1350 however, considering its quality and scarcity. And rounding off the £1350 club was the Ardbeg 17-year-old Cadenhead Dumpy. A natural if slightly soft price for this equally historic bottling. 

The Isle of Skye 50-year-old showed good progress cracking the £1000 mark for the first time, while the Bowmore Sea Dragon 30-year-old conversely seemed a tad soft at £1300. Dipping below the four-figure mark it was lovely to see two stunningly preserved old blends, the Benmore Liqueur Scotch Whisky and the Duffs Liqueur Scotch, both hitting an understandable £975 a piece. 

 

Looking through the rest of the auction there were many impressive results. Too many to mention. Notable examples would be the two Oban 16-year-old Bicentenary Manager’s Drams at £925 apiece, outstripping even the official Oban 1969 at £850. Similarly, the pair of Ord 16-year-old Manager’s Drams for £600 a piece lent further weight to the continued upward march of the early Manager’s Drams series. 

Beyond that, almost every lot was hitting its market value. Normally it’s possible to pinpoint one or two notable bargains or stand out anomalies. However, on this occasion, it really was a case of slim pickings. It seems that, in this day and age where more and more people are migrating their spending from retail to auction, prices are only solidifying, even at the £30-60 range of an auction. Interesting times… 

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AUGUST AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Mortlach 1938 Crystal Decanter
60-Year-Old

Taking the spotlight in our August auction is a very special and historic whisky that was ahead of its time when bottled in 1999. We’ve not seen this bottle appear in an online auction since we last auctioned it back in 2012.  Continue reading »

Talisker Rare Old Liqueur Whisky

After an anxious 10 months, we’re eager to share with you these two extraordinary bottles of Talisker Whisky. Whenever we quote Old, Rare & Obscure whisky these two bottles define exactly that. This class of whisky turns up once in a lifetime and even after nearly 30 years handling old & rare whisky we’ve never laid our eyes on such interesting and beautiful bottles.

Bottled by Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries Ltd. Park Brewery, Wolverhampton – we believe these were distilled at Carbost, Isle Of Skye in February 1940 and filled into sherry casks that were left to mature for at least 17 years until they were bottled in March 1957.

These two identical bottles were given to the vendor by their father over 30 years ago. They have been stored in what we assume could be their original wooden crate ever since. The vendor believes that their father purchased a whole case of 12 back in the 1950s and consumed most of them over the years.

These aren’t official bottlings but it was very common back in the day for breweries to own casks of whisky and bottle Scotch & other spirits under their own label. These sort of whiskies rarely made it out of the town where they were supplied. They often found their way into local pubs, groceries and private households where they were consumed.

I imagine a local artist designed the very quirky and original label which states it’s a ”RARE OLD LIQUEUR 70 PROOF and interestingly quotes ”IT’S A FINE SPEERIT THE TALISKER; THERE’S NO A PETTER MADE”. The label design itself is nothing like you see today; even the top of the cap is branded with FIDE DE FORTITUDINE meaning Fath & Fortitude.

The liquid itself we can only imagine will be remarkable; Talisker from this period is virtually non-existent and those who have ever tasted any of the G&M bottlings distilled in the 1940s will agree these should be equally as stunning if not better. These are whiskies even the diehard malt maniacs dream about. A once in a lifetime opportunity!

Cardow 100% Pot Still

Another incredibly rare old bottle that has never seen the light of auction is a 100% Pot Still Cardow Highland Malt Scotch Whisky. Cardow is the former name of Cardhu and was used between the 1950s to approximately 1965. Cardow/dhu bottled during this period is almost impossible to find. The nearest example I can think of is a run of official 8-year-olds that first appeared in 1965 and even those turn up once in a blue moon.

Macallan-Glenlivet Liqueur Whisky

We don’t post a great deal about Macallan in these posts but this one is well worth a mention as it’s somewhat significant compared to the variations we commonly seeAnd it’s not only because it’s bottled at 100 proof but instead because it specifies Liqueur Whisky prominently across the label. Liqueur was a term used to identify a whisky as being high quality and was used from around the 1920s to the 1970s.

This is one of the earliest examples of Macallan with an age statement and although bottled by Gordon & MacPhail is deemed an official bottling. This example is specifically from a parcel of stock that was circulating in 1971 and is most likely from a significant supply of Macallan distilled in 1958. These hardly ever turn up in auction, especially in such crisp condition as this one.

Casks Held In Bond

This months auction features three casks that are currently maturing in bond. Highlighting the lot has to be the 1989 Macallan: This is a whisky that is ready for bottling now. More textbook on the palate but the nose is really terrific. Overall an excellent Macallan that shows the distillery character up front and in a lighter profile than usual. The emphasis on fruits is extremely interesting.

Then we have for the first time two 1994 Tobermory’s. Cask #5105 is an excellent mid-aged Tobermory. Good sweetness and texture. Lacking some of the more ‘unlikely’ characteristics this distillery could be prone to in this era. The cask has had a clear voice with these sweeter aspects, although I expect this could easily improve further over another five years of maturation.  Whereas cask #39 is quieter and the distillate louder. It should comfortably mature well for a further 5-10 years. It still retains a lovely freshness and fragrant quality. A very interesting and rather good example of Tobermory.

What Else To Look Out For…

The early noughties appears to be a period where so many quality whiskies were being released.  The following are a handful you will find in this sale – starting with a rather rare 1962 41-year-old Auchentoshan. We’ve never seen this variation until now; and with just a mere 112 bottles produced, there’s no surprise why!

Next, we have a particularly appetising 1965 Springbank Local Barley bottled in 2001. There was a run of these from numerous sister casks and must be from one of the last parcels of stock from 1965 that was bottled by the distillery. An epic era for Springbank that’s sadly long lost.

Then we have the fabled 1968 Bunnahabhain Auld Acquaintance bottled in 2002; that unsurprisingly due to its sheer excellence has not appeared in one of our auctions since February 2017.

Another rarity that hardly sees the light of auction is the first official release of Brora 30-year-old bottled in 2002. This consists of whiskies distilled in the greatest vintage for Brora, the early 1970s.

Finally one of my favourite drams. The Ord 30-year-old bottled in 2005 by Diageo for their annual Special Releases. Ord seems to be one of those distilleries that gets overlooked and I don’t understand why. Even their old 12-year-old bottlings are fantastic.

Old Blended Whisky

As always we have managed to unearth several interesting old blends. You will find another Benmore, but this time a slightly more interesting example given it prominently states Dallas Dhu Distillery on the label.

Dallas Dhu distillery was owned by Benmore Distillers from 1921 until 1930. It was mothballed in 1929 and sporadically until it finally closed in 1983. Rumour has it that the distillery is going to be revived but only time will tell. This will certainly contain a proportion of whisky distilled at the Dallas Dhu distillery. Anyone interesting in Dallas Dhu or old whisky for that matter should definitely give this one a whirl.

My pick of the bunch has to be the Duffs Liqueur Scotch Whisky. We collected this bottle from the vendor’s house in Kirkintilloch – northeast of central Glasgow. If you’re thinking you have seen this label before, you’re right. It is pretty much identical to a ‘Black Bottle’ we auctioned in 2017. When we uplifted this, there was an old hanging tag around the neck of the bottle where the vendor’s Grandfather had written the following note…

”Given to my grandfather
First World War 1914-1918
DO NOT OPEN

Although we would love this to be a First World War whisky, we’d be more comfortable indicating c.1930. Nevertheless, this is a beautiful looking old bottle and I can only imagine the whisky would be a memorable one.

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

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