Category Archives: Auction

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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Mortlach 1938 60 Year Old Gordon & MacPhail

 

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Rare pre-war Mortlach goes under the hammer
29th August – 5th September

We’re very excited to present this extremely rare bottling of Mortlach 60 year old.  Distilled on 20th October 1938, the spirit was matured in Cask 2657 – which had previously held a high-quality sherry – by Gordon & MacPhail before being bottled in 1999 at the grand old age of 60 years old.

Gordon & MacPhail have a spectacular track record with Mortlach 1938 (not to mention 1936 and 1939!).  Bottlings from the 1938 vintage have been released from the Elgin-based bottler since the early 1980s, originally under the old white label and Connoisseurs Choice brands. In 1988, the first special presentation G&M Mortlach 1938 appeared as a 50yo bottled under the iconic ‘Book of Kells’ label.

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Everyone knows about the incredible Mortlach 1938 70 year old Gordon & MacPhail ‘Generations’ series that was the world’s oldest whisky at the time of release in 2008, but a lot of people aren’t quite so familiar with this particular Mortlach 1938 – a sister cask to the Generations – that was released at the turn of the century.

There are a few possible reasons for this. Firstly, the whisky appeared in 1999, when every distillery and bottler in Scotland was churning out Millennium special editions, and every week saw unprecedented numbers of new releases on the market. Secondly, there were just 100 of these beautiful bottles released, and speaking of the bottle, many of you will have seen the elegant crystal decanter and noticed that it’s the same as the Dalmore 50 year old we auctioned last month!

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The beautiful copper presentation case, meanwhile was designed and made by Forsyth’s of Rothes, the distillery coppersmiths, in the style of a windowed wash still front using only burnished copper, wood and brass, as a tribute to the craftsmanship of the coppersmiths and the coopers. The brass lock, meanwhile, ‘recalls bygone times when glass-encased spirit safes were sealed and checked daily by excisemen’. The handmade nature of the case is reflected in the visible dimple marks from the coppersmith’s hammers.

The case has a special drawer containing a crystal stopper and a separate miniature bottle of the same spirit with the more familiar Book of Kells-inspired label that many people will associate with previous bottlings of Mortlach 1938 and other Gordon & MacPhail prestige bottlings from the likes of Clynelish, Strathisla and Glen Grant. The miniature itself is highly prized, and has gone for as much as £260 at previous auctions.

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We’re looking forward to seeing what this 60 year old Mortlach achieves – a measure of the rarity of this bottle is that we’ve only ever had it on sale once before, way back in December 2012, when it made £4200. We believe that 2012 auction is the only time that this bottle has ever been auctioned online anywhere in the UK until now.

We expect bidding to be particularly fierce for this beautiful bottle of Mortlach and a price far in excess of the previous record – who knows when it will come up again?

1280 x 720 FB SlideShow Mortlach 60yo

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FREE WHISKY VALUATION DAY IN ELGIN, 22ND AUGUST

Our valuers Wayne & Harrison will be up in Elgin again this month offering free valuations and auction advise. It doesn’t matter whether you have a single bottle or a collection numbering in the hundred’s, Wayne & Harrison will be able to assist you.

Where is it?

Our free open valuation day will be held at the Laichmoray Hotel on Maisondieu Road, Elgin, on Wednesday 22nd August.  Appointments aren’t strict but we advise you making loose arrangements with Harrison. You can do this by either calling  01253 620 376 or by emailing auctions@whisky-online.com.

The lads will be available from 9:30am – approximately 4pm. We recommend bringing your whisky along or at least having photographs on your phone or tablet etc. If you need any help lifting please don’t hesitate to ask.

Maturing stock is in high demand in the current market and we have a great record of auctioning casks of whisky,  so if you have a cask held in bond, Wayne & Harrison will also be able to offer you their insight and advise.

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JULY AUCTION RESULTS 2018

The last time we sold a Dalmore 50-year-old was in May 2017 when it fetched an impressive £18,600. Fifteen months later, last night, bottle number one finished up at £28,000 on the nose. At one time such a result would have been pretty staggering but it says a lot about the nature of today’s secondary market that these kinds of serious five-figure sums have become almost ubiquitous. Still, this is an impressive result no doubt and shows that whiskies of genuine and deserved legend such as the Dalmore 50 are going nowhere but up. There is in fact almost an argument that it always makes sense to buy them if you can because they will only ever be more expensive. Say this same whisky turns up again in five months time. Would it make sense to buy it for, say, £38,000 – 45,000? I would argue that it would because the year or two after you can most likely sell it for £60,000. It’s just a matter of cash flow really. Which brings us back to the reality that, at this level, whisky is very much a commodity and a rich person’s game.

Once again Macallan displayed impressive strength and consistency at the top level of the sale. £20,000 on the nose for the 1946 Fine & Rare, £4000 for the 1958 Anniversary Malt and – somewhat bewilderingly – £3600 for the Diamond Jubilee. This is the thing about Macallan, you can understand it when the whisky in question is of the stunning, old style sherried variety, it’s somewhat more bizarre when it is, essentially, a contemporary NAS single malt. Such is the power of the name.

In fact, save for two bottles, one of which was the Dalmore 50, Macallan dominated the entire top end of the sale all the way down to a Springbank 1964 Cadenhead 34-year-old at a healthy, and somewhat unsurprising, £2500. In between all that one of the most interesting, and telling, high results were for John Scott’s 1965 35-year-old Highland Park which finished up at £3300. I remember buying the 42-year-old in this series in London in 2008 for £180 and subsequently drinking it. Given the quality of the whisky in these John Scott Highland Park bottlings, it seems retrospectively obvious that they would end up at such prices.

It was good to see the Glenfarclas 105 40-year-old back, hitting a healthy £2150 after a reasonable period of absence. Similarly, the Mortlach 1936 45-year-old and MacPhail’s 1938 45-year-old both did well at £1950 and £1900 respectively.

Springbank 12-year-old 100 proof bottlings from the 1990s have sat around the £1000 mark for quite some time now, so it was interesting to see one last night finish up at £1850 – exactly the same as the 22-year-old Cadenhead dumpy Springbank. This looks like it could well represent a bump up to a new trading level for this bottle, something not underserved considering what a legendary whisky it is.

The Lagavulin Syndicate 38-year-old appears to be holding strong at £1600. Another of quite a few Springbanks in this sale, the 1969 Signatory 28-year-old, performed well at £1150. Similarly, independent Macallans are increasingly chasing their official siblings up the auction levels with three Douglas Laing 30-year-old single casks fetching £1100 and £1050 respectively.

The Ardbeg Mor 1st edition was back on strong form at £900. And the long-awaited inaugural bottling of Daftmill single malt looks like a strong future classic, trading as it is already at £625. The Ardbeg 1975 and 1977 official vintage releases at £600 and £575 respectively showed good solid growth for these old classic bottlings.

Other strong results were a 1947 White Horse for £490, although for the historic nature of this liquid this also still seems like a good price for a drinker as well. The Cragganmore 17-year-old Manager’s Dram and the Glen Elgin 16 Manager’s Dram both did well at £450 and £525 respectively. This whole series is on the upward move so it’s nice to see these two slightly underrated examples getting the attention they deserve.

Similarly, Glen Ord, another seriously underrated distillery, saw one of the best examples ever bottled fetch an impressive £410. Although, if you ask me, this still represents good value for the liquid. Old Balblairs are another area where plenty of examples were arguably too cheap for too long, it seems this is changing as well. The 1974 ‘Highland Selection’ Balblair fetched a solid £390.

Although, at the same price levels one of the bargains of the sale was the Strathisla 35-year-old Bicentenary for £390. Given this is known to be a 1947 Strathisla it’s a terrific price for a drinker. Similarly, the Ardbeg 1974 23 year old by Signatory for £360 was also something of a steal.

Looking further down the sale there is the usual mix of solid consistency, some bewildering results – I still don’t get why people are paying £280 for a litre of 1990s Scapa 10-year-old – and a tiny smattering of bargains. A Glenlochy 1980 27 year old by Part Des Anges looks good at £270 and a rare Laphroaig 10-year-old bottled for Japan around 1990 also looks good at £245.

Largely though, scrolling from around the £300 – £80 level of the sale, you’re mostly reminded of just how much has changed on the secondary market over the past two years. Bottles like litres of old 15-year-old Glendronach. The kind of thing you used to be able to pick up for £40-60 for so long, now trading at £130. While at the same time you can still get bottles like Tormore 1983 28 year old by the SMWS for £135. It’s a funny old whisky world. Thankfully it’s still also a lot of fun!

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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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