First and foremost: happy new year from all of us at Whisky Online Auctions. Judging from the latest auction results things seem a little more settled in the world of whisky auctioneering than they did for the last few crazy months of 2016. Although, in terms of impressive results this auction certainly wasn’t lacking. For the first time in quite a while Dalmore was the star of this auction. The legendary official 50-year-old was the top bottle with an impressive new record of £14,300, closely followed by a unique bottling of Dalmore 50-year-old for the 2003 Habanos Festival which fetched an impressive £12,900. Not so long ago 50-year-old Dalmore’s could be picked up for under half these prices. And while we might snigger at the questionable Constellation Collections and other such series – the serious, older Dalmore’s remain the stuff of legend and potent performers on the secondary market.
It was pleasing to see another 50-year-old perform strongly as the Highland Park 1960 50-year-old hit £11,600. Similarly the Port Ellen 12 year old for the Queen’s Visit in 1980 performed extremely well again when it got close to its original record from last year with a final hammer price of £11,200. The level on this example wasn’t as good as the last one we sold so it is understandable that the price was a little lower but it still goes to show what serious desire to possess the liquid can do for a bottle. This remains the only bottling with a score of 99/100 on Whiskyfun and looks set to remain at this price level and above pretty permanently.
Another impressive result was the Springbank Millennium set which sold for £11,100. Not so long ago this set was £4000-5000. Once again an example of a maturing and increasingly complex and discerning secondary market with more and more buyers directing their money at these top-end, premium releases.
You wouldn’t expect to be mentioning a distillery like Aberfeldy in the upper echelons of an auction but a special edition 1985 28-year-old Aberfeldy, with only 10 bottles in existence, sold for a remarkable £10,300. Quite an achievement for a distillery rarely seen above the £300 mark at auction. I suspect it’ll be a while before we see another one of these bottles though.
The story of the rest of the upper end of the sale is largely one of consistency with a few notably impressive results strewn throughout. The 1969 Samaroli Glen Grant hit a mighty high of £2600 – helped I suspect by being in tip top condition with a great filling level. Similarly the Bruichladdich 40-year-old at £2500 shows this bottle finally gathering some traction. Another rare old Gordon & MacPhail 1958 100 proof Macallan did well even despite a low filling level when it finished up at £2100. Again, quality and rarity of liquid are powerful motivators.
Then of course there was our old friend: the Speyburn Flora & Fauna 12-year-old. A hammer price of £1800 shows desire for this mighty whisky remains undimmed – still cheap some might say. Another notable result was the Talisker 1967 100 proof from Gordon & MacPhail. There have been quite a few of these beautiful old Taliskers showing up at auction recently and they always perform well – understandable considering their mighty reputation. Given the rarity of this expression and the filling level the price is understandable.
A bottle of K-Club 16-year-old Irish ‘whisky’ bottled around 1940 hit an impressive price of £1250 despite a low filling level. There are more and more collectors for Irish Whiskies out there these days and their performance at auctions is only increasing. Similarly interest in Glenfarclas goes from strength to strength, I wouldn’t have believed ever a few months ago that a bottle of the 43-year-old Cognac casks bottling would have hit £1050 but there you go. Other impressive results for Glenfarclas were 8-year-old 105 proofs at £550 and £625 respectively.
A J J Mortier 1848 Cognac for £725 seems like a bit of bargain considering the historic nature of the liquid, but that’s the only ‘bargain’ I can find in the mid-upper levels of the sale. On the wholesome Ardbeg’s showed signs of cooling off a little, Laphroaigs and Lagavulins were ‘steady’, while Highland Park’s, Auchentoshan, Bowmore’s and Springbank’s all showed very well.
Other good results from a buyers/drinkers perspective were the Timorous Beastie 40-year-old – back down to £175 after a brief couple of months around the £250-300 mark. And the old ‘green glass’ circa 1990 Talisker 10-year-old still look like excellent value around the £130-160 mark. Also, for the Port drinker, a Warres and a Dow’s 1963 at £82.50 and £75 respectively looks like a very tasty little result.
By and large though the story of the lower end of the sale is one of consistency with the usual scattering of very impressive results and a small amount of bargains to boot. The overall profile of this sale looks more in keeping the sort of sales we were seeing around the middle of last year. Prices have settled a little for some bottles but continue to rise almost aggressively for others and for the truly great drams, the sky still seems to be the limit. So, a healthy start to the year with good encouragement for sellers and a little relief for those of us who prefer to buy and have been somewhat priced out of the market by a weak pound recently.
Until next time…