There are two very interesting results at the top end of this month’s auction. Firstly we learn that the market value for that Ardbeg 1974 is £15,100. This bottling has changed hands privately a few times but this was the first time in a long while that it had been seen at auction. Understandably, given that there are – or were – only 36 bottles in existence, it finished up at a whopping five figure sum, by far the most expensive bottle of Ardbeg sold at auction.
Secondly, it was interesting to see the result of the cask of Port Charlotte 2004 which finished up at £9300. A solid and impressive result but also perhaps much more in line with regular market prices for bonded mature stocks – especially after the extremes of last month’s two 1993 Macallans. This was a terrific cask of Port Charlotte so, whoever bought it, can expect a pretty great bottling from it when the time comes.
Other notable examples from the upper end of the sale were the Macallan 40-year-old 2016 release at £7300 – an impressive climb from its initial retail price. There was also an interesting disparity between the three bottles of Brora 1972 Rare Malts. Each was the ever so slightly more common 58.7% version. They finished up at £5900, £3300 and £3000 respectively, interestingly enough the descending prices matched the filling levels in each bottle. You might argue that this is three bottles in one sale having an overall effect on pricing but I doubt that the price – fill level correspondence is coincidental. The fact that the only bottle with the fill level well into the neck fetched a whopping £5900 – almost double the cheapest bottle – says a lot about the power of the fill level in these kinds of bottlings.
Another rather telling result was the Cadenhead Dumpy 1965 Clynelish which fetched £4700. It seems that almost all great old whiskies such as this one are now hovering around the £5000 mark or higher.
The Macallan 30-year-old blue box hit an impressive £4100, it’s looking increasingly likely that this bottle’s new trading level is set to remain above the £4000 mark from here on out. Similarly, the Port Ellen festival cask bottling finishing at £3400 suggests this bottling is unlikely to be picked up for anything below the £3000 mark anytime soon. The Ardbeg 1815 edition fetched £3300 which goes to show that if you set a bottle’s initial retail price on the high side then it’s often a slow burn at auction before it starts to climb higher.
Back to Macallan and the old 18-year-olds just seem to be going from height to heigh with the 1967 vintage fetching a whopping £2400 and the 1971 £2100. Add to that the fact that even the Diamond Jubilee release is now hitting £2350 and the 1980 Gran Reserva at £2100 and you start to wonder if there will soon be any older limited edition Macallans available below the £2000 mark?
Browsing through the rest of the upper end of the sale the Laphroaig 1967 27-year-old First Cask edition jumps out at £2050. Like almost all 1960s Laphroaigs now, these bottlings are fought over more and more keenly each time they turn up at auction. Understandable given the almost otherworldly brilliance of the liquid. Speaking of brilliant liquid, other similar results were the Talisker 100 proof NAS bottling for £1350, the 1977 Brora Douglas Laing for £1300 and the Laphroaig Cairdeas 30-year-old for £1000. All terrific drams with solid results driven by the sheer desirability of the liquid.
Glenmorangie 30-year-old looks to go from strength to strength with the Oloroso version selling for an impressive £1300. Similarly, the Bunnahabhain 1965 nudged past the four figure mark to a healthy £1050; nice to see these old Bunna bottlings getting the attention they deserve. Likewise, the 34-year-old Bunnahabhain fetched a solid £725 as well.
Another whisky which is gaining increasing attention at auction is Ledaig 1972, this vintage has long been well regarded and more and more people are now cottoning on with the Connoisseur’s Choice bottling fetching £750. Not to mention the Douglas Murdoch 20-year-old Ledaig hitting an eye-catching £625 – not so long ago this bottling could be scooped up for £150-200.
Moving further down the sale some other solid results were the Clynelish Flora & Fauna 1982 Cask Strength bottling for £430. The Campbell & Clark 1969 Glen Mhor for £400, these have always been some of the best Glen Mhor bottlings and it’s nice to finally see them moving on from the £200-250 range. After this, we tend to get into more familiar territory where everything seems to be hitting the upper end of its natural market value. It seems genuine bargains are increasingly a thing of the past at whisky auctions as more and more new buyers emerge and educate themselves on old and rare whiskies.
A 12-year-old 1980s ceramic flagon of Springbank for £130 looks like something of a steal considering how terrific these old Springbanks can be. Similarly, a 16-year-old White Horse Lagavulin at £125 looks pretty good considering most have been around the £160 mark lately. And of course, a Speyburn 1974 Connoisseur’s Choice for £82.50 is a pretty serious bargain too! But beyond this, the thing that strikes most is more surprise at just how much some bottles have climbed during the past year. Even types of whiskies such as old blends that would once have been around the £40 mark and heading up towards three figures. One thing is for sure, interest in whisky, be it old and rare, modern or unusual, is only going from strength to strength.
Next Auction Starts Wednesday 30th August
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