Every time you think these bonded casks can’t surprise you, they go right ahead and surprise you. The 1989 hogshead of Macallan in our latest auction finished up at an eye-watering £242,200. That’s the equivalent of £942 per bottle, and that’s without duty and bottling costs added on. This is the kind of price that independent bottlers and brokers just aren’t able (or willing) to pay, going to show that, if you have these sorts of casks, auction is the place for them. Looking at the constancy of the results for these bonded casks it seems the level of demand is only solidifying. Never mind investing in bottles, it looks like the smart money was on casks…
Back to reality (sort of) and it seems like Macallan once again dominated the other top spots in this auction. The 1946 and the 40 year old for Duty Free both performed impressively at £13,200 and £12,600 respectively. Although, for my money, the 1945 Speymalt by Gordon & MacPhail is a better buy at £11,100 from a liquid perspective. This 70 year old, and its 68 year old sibling, were sold for what seems like a remarkably cheap £4000 back when they were released. Considering this bottling is the oldest Macallan ever released and is, reportedly, a extremely find dram to boot, this looks like a good buy.
The other top end bottles seemed to be broadly consistent this sale. Ardbeg Manager’s Choice at £2900, Talisker 1957 £2600 and Michter’s 25 year old Rye for £2900 were all solid results. The appetite for old Laphroaig continued unabated with the 10 year old from the late 1970s fetching an impressive £1450. These kinds of tropical old style Islay whiskies are clearly attracting serious and broader interest, someone should really make this style of whisky again.
Also interesting, and impressive, was the Dailuaine 1966 31 year old Cadenhead bottling at £1250. This is a terrific whisky, however it’s a high price for this bottling. It may be a spike or, equally likely, we might be about to see all these older Cadenhead releases begin trading at this level. Other strong and notable results around the four figure region were the Berry Brother’s 1968 Talisker – a deliciously dark and inviting dram – hitting a nice round £1000. The Macallan Special Reserve at £825 was also an impressive result for a bottling which tended to lag behind other limited official Macallans for quite some time.
The Highland Park 1967 Duncan Taylor at £625, Glendronach 1975 Ian MacLeod at £625, Springbank 21 year old at £600 and the Glen Grant Moray Bonding 10 year old at £575 all represented bottlings which were trading around the £300 mark not so long ago. All perfect examples of how quality liquid is getting more desirable and increasing in value across the board irrespective of distillery.
The two Bruichladdich 1970 Valinches at £500 and £525 respectively further display an increasing interest in aged Bruichladdich in the market more generally. Nice to see these terrific and rather unique old drams getting a bit more attention. Conversely the Lagavulin Syndicate 11 and 13 year old bottlings seemed to settle down to the £500 range this sale, perhaps going to show that as supply of these rarities continues the price is starting to soften accordingly.
Another trend that I’ve noticed in recent months is that bottlings which used to be relatively unknown, or could be considered safe bargains in most sales, are now broadly known about and tend to perform well in any auction. Examples would be bottlings such as the Springbank 8 year old under the Glen’s label for £320 and the Alex Ferguson 1940s blend for £360. Both fair prices for these whiskies but far more representative of their quality than recent results were. A sad time for those of use who like to hunt out lesser known delicious old drams. Good times for anyone selling.
There were, however, a few good bargains for keen eyed buyers this sale. Which in some ways is a refreshing buck of the trend from most recent sales. The Ardbeg 1974 – 1996 Connoisseur’s Choice was something of a steal at £290. As was the Glenlochy 1974 Connoisseur’s Choice for £280. The Mortlach 21 year old from the 1980s also still looks like good value considering the quality of the liquid at £250. While a Laphroaig 10 year old from the late 1980s for £235 is about the best price you’ll pay for old style tropical Laphroaig these days. Similarly the Lagavulin 16 year old White Horse 75cl for £185 was a very good price considering the recent heat around these bottlings.
By and large though, this was another sale full of consistent and top end prices with bargains few and far between. Oh to be in the 1990s again as a buyer! Anyway, a buoyant market means more whisky being brought up for sale and more interesting bottles being discovered. Happy days! Until next time…