Tag Archives: Ardbeg

A Brief History of Connoisseurs Choice

You might already be aware that independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail has just announced a revamp of their ranges, with their Connoisseurs Choice line getting a smart new facelift.  What better excuse for a quick trawl through some of the bottlings in this historic series?

The original Connoisseurs Choice range was the brainchild of George Urquhart and was first introduced in 1968, so 2018 is the fiftieth anniversary of the range. The first CC bottlings had a simple black label featuring a golden eagle or a barrel.  These whiskies, some of which are the first known bottlings from their distilleries, are very highly sought after now and command very high prices. We have several of these legendary bottlings, including this 1963 Glenugie and one of the most famous Gordon & Macphail bottlings, Mortlach 1936 43 year old.

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The fabulous Mortlach 1936 43 year old

The black Connoisseurs Choice labels were replaced around the turn of the 1980s by a short-lived label utilising various shades of brown.  These labels are less rare than the black ones but are still very desirable as they include some of the greatest ever bottlings under the Connoisseurs Choice name, with gems from many now-lost distilleries such as Lochside, St. Magdalene and one of the rarest single malts of all: Kinclaith.

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A true unicorn whisky: Kinclaith 1966

The brown labels were themselves replaced by what is known among collectors as the Map Label.  These bottlings began around 1988 with cream labels and a thumbnail map of the relevant region in the centre – good examples include a series of Ardbegs from the classic 1974 vintage.

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…And even older vintages such as this incredible Ardbeg 1964…

The Map Label was tweaked in 1996 with a colour-coded background label for each region, and redesigned again in 2008, with a return to cream labels with colour-coded banding and the map in the top right of the label.  The previous year, 2007, had seen the standard bottling strength for Connoisseurs Choice increased to 43% from its previous regulation 40%.

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The classic 1996-era map label on a famous Brora 1972 bottling

More changes were to follow: in 2012 the range got another revamp, with embossed G&M bottles, another label tweak and, most significantly of all, another bump in the standard bottling strength to 46% and the dropping of chill-filtration and caramel colouring, delighting the range’s millions of fans.

 

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The post-2012 version of the map label

This 50th Anniversary upgrade is a big new step in the evolution of Scotland’s most long-lived and iconic independent bottling series, with the final departure of the map from the label, a very handsome new bespoke short-necked bottle and the introduction of cask strength bottlings into the Connoisseurs Choice range.  You can check out all our G&M Connoisseurs Choice bottlings, past and present, including a great selection from the new out-turn here.

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Clynelish 2005 from the new Connoisseurs Choice Cask Strength range
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April Auction: SMWS Collection

Our April auction is upon us and we’ve got a very special group of lots – a remarkable collection of over seventy rare old bottlings from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society sourced from a private collector in Macclesfield. Most of these bottles were bought in the 1990s and there are some very rare editions from highly-sought after distilleries.

If you’re not very familiar with The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, here’s a few facts to get you going and to explain why we’re so excited about this collection.

  • The Society was founded in Edinburgh in 1983 and is therefore celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. In those 35 years the Society has grown enormously and is now represented, at last count, in 21 countries outside the UK.
  • The Society began as a private club led by Pip Hills, who had been cycling around Scotland visiting distilleries for some years. Hills clubbed together with some friends to buy a cask of Glenfarclas which they would share and drink together. The remainder of that cask became the first Society bottling when the club was formally established in 1983.
  • The Society’s original premises are at The Vaults in Leith, Edinburgh. A London bar and tasting venue was purchased in 1996 with the proceeds of a share scheme for members, while a second Edinburgh venue was established in 2004 at 28 Queen Street, in the same year that the Society was purchased by Glenmorangie.  The Society was sold in 2015 to a consortium of private investors.
  • SMWS single malts have always been bottled at full strength from single casks, without dilution, chill-filtration or additional colouring.  These practices were very unusual in 1983 but are now common among independent bottlers.
  • Distillery names are never mentioned on Society bottlings.  Instead, each whisky is identified by a two number code and occasional clues in Society publications. The first number represents the distillery, and the second identifies the cask. Therefore, the first bottling from the first distillery was 1.1, while 43.10 is the tenth bottling from the 43rd distillery. Lists of which numbers represent which distilleries are widely available on the internet but have never been confirmed by the Society.
  • Casks are chosen by the Society’s Tasting Panel, who approve each bottling and compose concise tasting notes to be published on the label and in the Society’s in-house magazine. As each bottling is from a single cask, expressions from the most popular distilleries sell out very quickly.

Now you’re up to speed on the key facts, here’s a small selection of the highlights from our auction this month. There’s a few areas of interest as follows:

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Old vintages: Highlights here include a pair of Bruichladdichs from 1968 and 1969, a Glen Garioch 1968, a Glenturret 1969, and one of the absolute standout lots, a 26 year old Ardbeg 1966 – the last bottle of this we had sold for £1600 over two years ago, so who knows what this will end up going for.

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Low Cask Numbers: These are always highly sought-after and are hard to come by as many were bottled long before collecting whisky became popular. There are a lot of these in this fantastic collection, including the first ever SMWS bottlings of Glen Scotia, Craigellachie and the incredibly rare Glencraig (distilled on a Lomond still at Glenburgie). There’s also the second bottlings from Clynelish, Glen Ord, Miltonduff, Glenturret, and the closed distilleries Imperial and Glenugie. Bidding on all of these lots will be absolutely fierce.

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Closed or Rare Distilleries: We’ve got single-digit casks from closed distilleries including Dallas Dhu, Millburn, North Port and another standout lot: SMWS 61.3, distilled in 1977 at Brora. There are also several bottles from distilleries that are rarely bottled independently, including Dalmore, Talisker, Isle of Jura, Scapa, Glenlossie, Royal Brackla and Lagavulin.

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Popular Distilleries: Clearly our collector had very good taste, as there are some mouth-watering lots from great distilleries.  We particularly like the look of long-aged Clynelish 1983 and 1976, and the Ardbeg 1977 and 1974 – these classic vintages will be fought over, as will Brora 1981, Highland Park 1976, Laphroaig 1978, Caol Ila 1983, heavily sherried expressions from Ben Nevis and Glenglassaugh (both from the 1984 vintage) and the special edition society bottlings: Longrow 1990 – the first release from Longrow, bottled for the Millennium, another Longrow 1990 bottled for the opening of the Queen Street venue and last, but certainly not least, the famous Glen Grant 1972 bottled in 2001 for the Society’s 18th anniversary.

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We’ve only really scratched the surface here – there are dozens more fantastic SMWS single malts available from this amazing collection in our auction this month. Check them out now, there really is something for everyone. Good Luck and Happy Bidding!

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February Auction Results 2018

It’s not often that the highest price item in the auction isn’t whisky but this month it was a pleasing variation to see the top spot taken by a Cognac. Not just any Cognac of course; Remy Martin’s Louis XIII Rare Cask 42.6, which finished up at a cool £7100. Not entirely surprising given how fanatical some collectors – and drinkers – are about the iconic Louis XIII bottlings. This was a rare chance to snap one up outside retail so, even without its original box, it still performed impressively.

Hard on its heels was the Glenury Royal 1953 50 year old from the 2003 Special Releases which finished up at £5800. An impressive price but down from its previous best with us last October when it fetched £8100. Is this a sign of the market cooling off for these higher end bottlings, or simply that this particular bottling has increased in supply on the secondary market over the past few months. One thing is for sure, it’s a good lesson in being smart with your timing of when you buy – especially if it can mean the difference of a few thousand pounds. Also of note was that there were two of these bottles in this sale and the one with the low level hit £4100 – still an impressive price considering there had been quite some evaporation but consistent with how filling levels determine a bottle’s value.

The noise and heat around Karuizawa seems to have eased off a little in recent months but the two Emerald Geisha bottlings were a timely reminder of the desire that still exists amongst collectors. Cask 8518 and 8908 finished up at £5050 and £5100 respectively, a strong performance for both.

The Highland Park 1958 40 year old continued to perform well with this latest bottle hitting £4200. It seems like not so long ago that these could be snapped up for £1500, I fully expect this bottling to only increase further in price over the next few years. As knowledge about the quality of the liquid proliferates these kinds of older Highland Parks will only gain in value.

Speaking of gaining in value… perhaps the standout examples were the two Laphroaig 10 year olds from the 1970s. These kinds of old style tropical fruit driven Islay whiskies (primarily Laphroaig and Bowmore) are getting more and more attention these days. The Mario Rossi import is a rare one but given the lower fill level and the label condition, the fact it sold for £2600 is rather jaw dropping. The 1970s UK version at £2350 was similarly impressive. These sorts of results just emphasise once again how quality of liquid from certain distilleries is become such a potent driving force of price on the secondary market. People know now that these sorts of flavours just aren’t produced anymore. How long before some distiller decides to actually do the smart thing and spend a bit of time, effort and money making this style of whisky again…? Looking at these bottle prices I know what I’d be doing if I had a distillery…

Other interesting higher end results were the Glen Garioch 1972 for Oddbins hitting £1750, an amazing whisky and not a big surprise. Neither were the two official 1968 single casks selling for £1450 each. These older Glen Garioch’s, again, are all about this lost, incredible peaty style of distillate. A similarly illuminating result was an extremely rare sherried Glenugie 12 year old bottled for R & I Neish of Peterhead at £1700. These kinds of bottles turn up once in a blue moon and the fact it’s from such a cult distillery as Glenugie means there is inevitably a fight when they do.

The 2005 Brora 30 performed well at £1050. I suspect these older releases of Brora will continue their slow and steady march onwards in price over the coming year. It’s also interesting looking at this point in the auction as Lagavulin 1985 21 year old, Springbank 1965 Everest and Glenfarclas 1954-2000 all hit £1050. A kind of emblematic, four figure price point for three rather disparate but brilliant whiskies that gives a further sense of how quality is what is valued, no matter the actual style of flavour profile.

Moving down the auction some solid results for interesting bottles can be seen. £825 for an old 1970s 100 proof Clynelish; £925 for an OB Macallan 10 year old 100 proof; an impressive £725 for a Dailuaine Flora & Fauna cask strength; and £775 for a 1966 25 year old decanter bottling of Ben Nevis. The Highland Park 1973 cask 11167 for Oddbins was up at £725 – a sign these bottles are steadily rising as well. The same with the Balblair 1966 at £700, a deservedly legendary dram which will probably be hitting four figures quite soon.

Perhaps an inverse surprise was the Ardbeg Special Air service bottle. This is the sort of thing which would normally send collectors into a bit of a spin, but £625 does seem slightly  on the low side for such a bottling.

Going further down there were some good results for more recent bottlings. The Laphroaig 1987 30 year old by Douglas Laing and the Longmorn 1987 17 year old cask strength edition both hit a very healthy £410.

In terms of bargains they were, once again, a little thin on the ground unsurprisingly. Although overall prices were perhaps showing signs of softening a little after some eye-watering high results over recent months. Good buys were the Glenlivet 21 year old official decanter bottling for the USA at £270. A 1952 – 1977 Hine Cognac for £235. Also, a Gordon & MacPhail 1966 Balblair and a Glen’s Extra 8 year old 1970s Springbank for £205 a piece were both something of a steal.

By and large though it was an interesting, slightly quieter sale with a broad and pretty varied selection of bottles. One that possibly indicated either a slight cooling off of recent madness, or simply a little seasonal lull. However, for the right bottles as ever, prices remain comfortably crazy.

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December Auction Results 2017

Every auction throws up a few special or fascinating results but there’s always something just a little bit more intriguing about our annual Christmas auction. The fact it runs over the festive period for an extended time and usually features an extensive selection of truly special bottles always ups the excitement. 
First up it seems the fever surrounding bonded casks of Macallan is back up to full pitch. The two top lots were a sherry butt of 1996 Macallan at £168,300 and a sherry hogshead of 1990 Macallan for £135,100. It’s interesting to note in the price rations here and how – while the extra size and content of the butt makes it the most expensive – in terms of ratio the older, more mature liquid is the one which wins if you adjust to price per bottle. Another fascinating and bewilderingly impressive result for bonded casks.
If any further proof were needed of the ‘Macallan’ effect, simply look at the prices achieved in the same sale by the bonded casks of 1992 Jura which were also under the hammer. Ranging from £7700 – £11,100. These seems like more realistic market prices for such casks and go some way to revealing just how powerful the name Macallan remains. 
On to the bottles and to my favourite bottle of the sale: the Oban Crown Hotel bottle from around 1900. First of all, what a stunning bottle to still find in this day and age! These kinds of bottles could be found with far more regularity a number of years ago, now, however, it’s exceptionally unusual to still uncover such an old, genuine bottle. What’s nice is that it is from Oban distillery, not a name you’d ever expect to discover such an aged example of. Another good illustration of the nature of today’s market is that the Macallan Lalique 50 year old sold for £45,600 and the Oban finished at £11,600. Both impressive prices but also another indicator of how skewed the perception of value is in whisky today. 

Old Oban Whisky Circa 1900

Looking over some of the many other impressive top end results it was good to see the Ardbeg 1965 hit the five figure mark at £10,000 – a record for this bottling. The Bowmore 1955 jug is also back on deserving form at £6800 – if you’ve ever tasted this bewilderingly incredible whisky then you can understand why. Same goes for the Bowmore 1957 at £6500. I wonder how long before all these old Bowmores crest the £10k mark?
Talisker 1955 and 1957 CASK by Gordon & MacPhail both finished at £2600, another unsurprising and impressive result for these incredible whiskies. Back to Bowmore again and the Bicentenary bottling continues it’s climb ever higher to £2300, a second bottle also fetched £1950. While the Clynelish 1972 White Label by Cadenhead hit £2150, again: amazing juice is in serious demand. 
Amidst all the impressive Macallan results, one of the more notable bottles was the Macallan 15 year old by Gordon & MacPhail from the 1970s. Judging by the colour you always knew it would do well, however £1950 is still an impressive result for a bottle which could be picked up for around the £400 mark a couple of years ago. 
A beautiful old bottle of Glenlivet bottled 1949 fetched £1450, which, given the age and rather unique nature of the bottle, feels like something of a bargain. Which goes to show, even at these sorts of price levels, there are still some nice bits and pieces to be found. Another example would possibly be the old Blair Athol 8 year old from the 1940s – another remarkable old single malt that, at £1050, seems like a pretty fair price in today’s market. 

 

 

 

It isn’t just whisky of course. Wray & Nephew continued to be one of the most desirable names in Rum with a private stock bottling from the 1970s fetching £1450. A super rare Glenugie 12 year old fetched £1200 and a Lagavulin 12 White Horse just squeezed past the four figure mark to £1050. I suspect we’ll see these bottles start to do this more and more often quite soon. 
Going below the £1000 mark there were plenty other impressive results. The Clynelish 1971 36 year old Murray McDavid at £750 showed that these vintages of Clynelish are always in high demand these days. The litre bottling of 12 year old Macallan at £775 was also impressive, this bottling for some reason seemed to hover at £300-400 for a long time. The Longmorn 25 year old centenary at £700 is also nice to see, the liquid is utterly incredible in this one and for a long time it seemed stuck around the £400-500 mark. 
Looking over the rest of the auction it seems that almost all aged single malts – closed or still active – from the 1960s and 1970s are sitting somewhere in the £300-600 price range these days. Gone are the times where you could pick up these sorts of bottlings occasionally sub £200. Almost anything that’s good or old now seems to carry a minimum £300-400 price tag. With many or most of the good or interesting ones sailing closer to £500+. People wonder about how long this will continue but, for these kinds of older or well aged single malt bottlings, I don’t see how the prices will ever really come down. Barring some broader economic collapse, these sorts of whiskies aren’t being made anymore and they will always be hugely desirable to drinkers and collectors alike. Basic supply and demand will rule the roost with these bottlings forevermore I suspect. A shame as it means many of us might be priced out of owning them. But if you still have these kinds of whiskies tucked away at home it’s pretty much a dream market in which to sell nowadays. 
Elsewhere in the sale pretty much everything here was hitting it’s true or high market value. Even below the £100 mark there weren’t too many bargains to be found. Seems a trend that’s set to continue into 2018. Although, my result of the sale would have to be a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Whisky for £320. Must have been the Christmas effect! Happy new year to all our clients and customers and to everyone that bids with us. We wish you all the best for 2018. Hopefully you were able to celebrate with something suitably delicious. Until next time… 

 

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November Auction Results 2017

We should probably start with the somewhat unsurprising record price of £24,200 achieved for the Macallan 1949 50 year old Millennium decanter. What’s most amusing from a personal perspective is that it wasn’t so long ago that this sort of result (indeed this is the second time that Whisky Online has achieved a record price for this bottling) would have had all chinwagging. Nowadays, however, such prices for these old Macallan bottlings have become pretty commonplace.

The theme of the Millennium dominated the top of the auction this time with the Springbank Millennium set also performing strongly at £12,900. I’m sure I’ve written before about how this set could be picked up for £4000-5000 not so long ago. Suddenly that doesn’t seem too expensive.

Then a pleasing run of Bowmores. The most notable of which was probably the 2nd edition Black Bowmore for the US at 75cl hitting £8200. Although, in terms of Bowmore rarities, the 1969 single cask for Fecchio & Frassa was the real gem of this auction. Indeed, the fact it sold eventually for £5500 is testament to both its rarity and the lauded reputation of the liquid itself. I suspect it will be a long time before we see another of these – or another might show up next month. Stranger things have happened.

Another pair of impressive results were the two PLOWED society bottlings from Douglas Laing. With the Ardbeg 1972 fetching £4600 and the Brora 1972 a whopping £5800. Two more examples of just how intensely in demand these sorts of legendary whiskies are these days.

The Campbell Hope & King Macallans showed no signs of slowing down either. An excellent example of one of the harder to find editions in the series, the 1951, hit an impressive £4600. While the 1957 nudged £3700. I suspect these bottlings will only continue to climb in the coming months and years.

One of the more surprising results was the cask of Arran 1997. Given the strong performance of other bonded casks recently it was somewhat surprising to see this one at £4100. Given the quality of the liquid as well it looks as though someone got themselves a wee bit of a bargain.

Some other notable results were bottlings such as the Bowmore 1962 Moon Import – a serious rarity these days – at £2350. The Gordon & MacPhail Talisker 1957 CASK at £2300 – another bottling which isn’t getting cheaper anytime soon I suspect. Similarly the 1955 variant hit £2050. The Laphroaig 1967 First Cask continued its recent strength of form with a hammer price of £2050 and a Bowmore Bicentenary hit £2000. It seems amazing juice is still the ultimate bringer of serious results at auction these days.

Strong results from the SMWS collection in this sale were also in evidence with the Springbank 1965 hitting £2000 and the Lomond 1972 Yoichi 1986 116.1 both achieving £1800. There were plenty strong results from Macallan in the upper ends of the sale – something so ubiquitous from sale to sale now I’ve kind of stopped commenting on it almost – but the 15 year old 1957 by Gordon & MacPhail fetching £1700 was still rather impressive. Something that goes to show good, old Macallan just isn’t cheap no matter what bottling it is.

Deviating from Whisky it was nice to be reminded that old rums are also somewhat ‘in vogue’ with collectors and drinkers these days. The 1930s Frederick Smith example fetched an impressive £1550. Similarly Midleton collectors were out in force for the scarcely seen 1990 edition, pushing it all the way to £1500. The thirst for old and rare examples of Ainslie’s blends showed no signs of stopping with the 1940s King’s Legend hitting £1450 and the 1950s Ainslie’s Specially Selected on £925. Again these are the sorts of bottles which could be bought for less than £150 a piece not so long ago.

The superbly dark sherry SMWS early editions of Rosebank have garnered quite a reputation in recent years since a couple were opened and written about. Unsurprisingly the 25.3 Rosebank hit £1300, with the 25.4 not too far behind it on £1000. Around this price level other impressive results were the MacPhail’s 1945 44 year old. These don’t tend to perform as well as the named distillery Gordon & MacPhail bottlings from the same era but I suspect the fact it was a wartime vintage helped propel it to £1050. Not too far away was the Oban Bicentenary Manager’s Dram 16 year old for £975. For so long this bottling sat still around the £400-500 mark so it’s nice to see this great dram getting some recognition. Similarly the Aberfeldy 19 year old Manager’s Dram hit an impressive £875 – it seems this boost in prices we’ve been seeing recently for the old Manager’s Drams is here to stay.

 

Older bottlings did well across the board this sale with the 1960s Springbank 5 year old hitting £825 and the 1950s Dalmore 12 achieving £800. Both in impressive condition neither result is particularly surprising but both do represent an increase on other recent results for these bottlings. No doubt next time they’ll be even higher.

 

A few other impressive SMWS results – unsurprising given how rarely many of these bottlings turn up at auction – were the dark sherry Glenfiddich 1978 15.6 for £575. The rather crazy Inchgower 1966 18.15 for £550. And the Macallan 1977 24.17 for £500. At this point it would be remiss not to point out what was probably the bargain of the sale with the Glenlochy 1969 25 year old Rare Malts selling for £525 – not sure what happened there but I’m sad I missed it is all I can say. Goes to show there’s always something in every auction.

Looking through the rest of the sale though, it is rather hard to discern too many other bargains. One of the things that stands out is the prices paid for almost any old SMWS bottlings these days. Even some of the more mundane bottlings can fetch impressive prices. Whether this is being driven primarily by collectors of drinkers seeking real obscurities I’m not sure. Almost certainly, as usual with these things, it’s a combination of both. Until next time…

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February 2017 Auction Results

One of the continuing trends in last night’s auction was the new trading levels of older, high-end Macallans. The Fine & Rare series continues to strengthen at auction with results of £10,600 and £8200 for the 1965 and 1971 respectively. Similarly the 1938 handwritten label – a bottle that has been static around the £5000 mark for quite some time – took a step higher again up to £6000. Other impressive prices at the top of the sale included the Laphroaig 1960 for Oddbins with a whopping £5900 hammer price, the Highland Park 1958 with a very healthy £2800 and a Macallan Royal Marriage for £2700.

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But it wasn’t just the expected heavy hitters. Increasingly we’re seeing the old and rare whiskies creeping into the very upper levels of the auction, bottles which, until recently, might not have gone into four figures at all. The Springbank 1965 Cadenhead White Label series fetched a cool £2450 and the Talisker 1957 100 proof £2250, both showing just how intense the competition and desire for these magnificent liquids are becoming these days.

The rest of the upper end of the auction was the same story of consistency and top end market value for most of the bottles. There was an impressive selection of Macallan and looking over all the various vintages and expressions so regularly seen at auction now, what strikes is just how many of these bottles have moved from the £700-1000 mark into the £1500-2000 bracket over the past year. Will this pace continue of will we see a plateau effect for a while?

Some other impressive results for older bottlings were the Macallan As We Get It 1960s bottling which finished up at £1200. Demand for older examples of this series seems to be going up and up these days. Similarly an old example of Ainslie’s King’s Legend (a Clynelish heavy blend) from around 1930 with a spring cap settled on a muscular £1250. As knowledge about old blends and their constituent malts has proliferated in recent years we’ve seen a remarkable corresponding jump in their prices at auction.

The thirst for old Midleton bottlings continues unabated with a 1987 example hitting £1100. The Laphroaig Cairdeas 30 year old passed the £1000 mark with a hammer price of £1050 and the Bowmore 1972 and Glen Moray 1959 distillery releases settled comfortably on £1000 apiece.

Midleton Auction Results

Moving down through the sale there were strong results for the scarcely seen Balblair 1951 private bottling at £900, the Bowmore 1980 Still Decanter at £925, the Glenmorangie 1993 Truffle Oak at £875, the Lochside 1965 46-year-old by Adelphi at £775. And a 1977 30-year-old Macallan by Douglas Laing and the Laphroaig 13-year-old festival bottling both at £750 look like quite remarkable prices for these bottlings.

It seems that it isn’t only the upper-end Macallans that are hitting new trading levels, but their midrange bottlings have all moved up a notch as well. The NAS Cask Strength bottling from the early 2000s hit a whopping £750, the 1990 15-year-old Easter Elchies hit £725 and the 2011 Easter Elchies hit £900! It wasn’t just Macallan though, there was a whole host of bottlings going for what some might call ‘crazy money’. Another Midleton – the 1991 bottling this time – finished up at £725, a Glendullan 1967 32 year old by Cadenheads hit a remarkable £700 (you could buy these at auction for £200-300 quite recently) as did the Ardbeg 1998 – 2011 Festival release. All quite remarkable prices. Perhaps less surprisingly a Brora 1972 cask end fetched £625.

Looking through the sale from the mid-range down there are very few bargains. A 1966 Dalwhinnie at £410 seems like a decent price but not by much, as does the Glenrothes 1972 and 1984 vintage pair for the same amount. Some of the old Gordon & MacPhail Strathislas and Glen Grants for under the £250 mark finished up at very drinkable prices.

In conclusion, though, it was a hugely impressive sale. One that cements new trading levels for numerous Macallans as well as many bottles which, as recently as last year, could be picked up for a few hundred pounds less. There were a few ‘bargains’ around the lower-mid ends of the sale but by and large it was a consistent and impressive slew of results.

 

February auction highlights

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November Auction Results

Another month and yet again the prices are still flying high.

A weak pound is good for UK sellers but frustrating for those of us trying to buy. Whether this current upward trend will continue or maintain itself is yet to be seen. But if there is a re-balancing against the Euro (as seems likely) and the Dollar in the coming months then it seems likely that prices may soften again. In short, it’s still a good time to sell for UK buyers. Anyway, on with the results…

The demand for Black Bowmore continues unabated as ever, no doubt helped by the recent announcement of the new 50 year old expression, the 42 year old 4th release hit a healthy £8200. The newly released Macallan 40 year olds both fetched a notch above their initial retail price with a hammer of £6000 and £5900 respectively. Elsewhere in the upper levels of the sale there were similarly hefty results for Macallan with a pair of 1958 Anniversary Malts hitting £2700 each and – perhaps even more impressively – a 1970 and 1966 Anniversary Malt at £2250 a piece. Not so long ago these were £800-1000 bottles. Likewise multiple early 18 year old vintage bottlings finished up around the £1700-1800 mark showing this series well and truly cementing itself at this new trading level.

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One of the real highlights for Macallan lovers this sale, however, was the full case of 1958 80 proof bottled early 1970s by Gordon & MacPhail. Beautiful whisky in beautifully classical bottles. Naturally the ones that held their filling levels performed the best at around £2000 each.

Moving away from Macallan though, perhaps the biggest surprise of this sale was the 1972 Brorageddon bottling which finished up at a whopping £5300. This is legendary whisky and further evidences the immense appetite there is for whiskies from this distillery and this vintage in particular. Being one of the only dark sherried expressions of Brora 1972 it is understandable how fiercely these bottles are now fought for. Still, one sold a couple of weeks ago for £3900 and to see it outstrip that price so quickly was quite remarkable.

Moving further down the sale there was no shortage of other impressive, and often left field, results. A Midleton 1988 fetched bang on £1000. There are of course collectors for this series but this is a remarkable result nonetheless. Goes to show that when a bottle is missing from more than one collection then competition can be ruthless.

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Other strong results were the Glenmorangie 1963 at £1000, the Glenlochy 1969 25 year old Rare Malts at £975 and the new Lagavulin 25 year old already up at £925, no doubt this bottle has a strong future at auction. A very rare 1988 Caol Ila ‘Manager’s Challenge’ of which only 35 bottles were produced fetched an impressive £725 and a Highland Park Thor was back up around £525 showing that this series is likely on the rebound.

Other impressive results were £525 for a Macallan Cask Strength bottled around 2000, £430 for a Ledaig 1972 Connoisseur’s Choice and £400 for the Kilchoman 100% Islay Cask Strength. Nice to see Islay’s newest (for now) distillery getting some solid auction results.

The majority of results in the mid-range of the auction – like most recent sales – were otherwise consistent and solid with few apparent bargains to be had. One or two bottlings such as the 1965 Duncan Taylor 40 year old Tomatin seem like a good price at £280 but it’s really grasping at straws trying to find glaring bargains amongst this lot.

Below the £120 mark there was still a solid amount of excellent drinking whisky for fair prices but again the overall story is one of consistency and generally upper market value. Next month is the big Christmas auction so we’ll have to wait and see what that brings in terms of prices, at the moment it looks like the current levels will hold for a while longer. How long is anyone’s guess but if you’re thinking of selling though, now seems like a good time to do it.

 

Auction Highlights

 


 

Annual Extended Christmas Sale!
If you’d like to get your bottles into the Christmas sale then we’ll be accepting entries up until the 21st of December. So don’t hang about if you want to take advantage of what is usually one of the highlight auctions of the year in terms of quality of bottles and prices achieved.

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July Auction Now Live!

Putting together this months sale has been quite a challenge, whether it’s because the bottles have been scattered all over the country, or just the sheer heat beaming through the van windscreen or leaving customers houses at midnight. regardless we’ve had a laugh along the way, and not forgetting the pleasure of meeting great people in the process.
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So let’s kick start with two exceptional bottling from 1955 starting with a Bowmore 1955 40 year old. In cask this has seen seven different distillery managers. It started life in a Bourbon Hogshead, 20 years later it was transferred to a carefully selected Sherry Butt, it was then left to mature for a further 20 years. The outcome is a pinnacle of its kind. The decanter and wooden presentation both reflect similar care and attention to detail as the liquid itself. Using traditional skills each decanter has been individually blown, hand cut and engraved by the artists of Caithness Glass. Each decanter is individually numbered and has been created to reflect images of the traditional Bowmore bottle. The individual oak presentation case has been hand made by the Master Cabinet Makers of Charles Kirkby & sons. These skills combined are the result of a pure pedigree.

Over at Speyside we have a 1955 Glenfarclas 50 year old specially bottled for the bicentenary of John Grant’s birth. With only 110 bottles worldwide and with many been consumed this has become the hardest and rarest Glenfarclas to acquire of the modern age.

Talking of 1950s we have a marvellous Glen Grant 10 year old bottled by Moray Bonding in the 1950s. Moray Bonding was a private limited company established in 1947 and like Gordon & MacPhail they held a license to bottle Glen Grant as a single malt on behalf of the Distillery.

Onto the late 1960s/1970s you will find a very elegant Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 8 year old with part screen printed label. An official Talisker 12 year old that was distilled in the 1960s and the legendary Bowmore Bicentenary.

From the 1980s there is a beautiful pale looking 30 year old Springbank distilled in the 1950s which was purchased from Harrods Knightsbridge in 1989 for £145 by the vendor. Two unblended Rosebanks with the three stills one of which is the extremely hard to find 12 year old variation.

Good old aged whiskies feature a Glengoyne 1968 single cask, Glendronach 1975Glendronach  33 year old, Macduff 1967, Macallan 1965, Highland Park 1977, Glen Ord 1975, Glenfarclas 1956 Family Cask – 40 year old Millennium and a Blairfindy 1964 40 year old.

We have a wealth of Connoisseurs Choice including a St Magdalene 1963 and a good batch of SMWS highlighting a Brora 61.9.

Elsewhere we have another batch of Springbank including the 21 year old bottled back in 2005. Rum is in force again by Cadenhead and Closed distillery Caroni.

We will stop here and let you find the rest yourself.

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As always good luck and happy bidding from all of us here at Whisky Online Auctions.

 

July Whisky auction Highlights

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April Whisky Auction Results

The April whisky auction proved that appetite for the top end Macallan shows no signs of slowing down, in fact, if anything, it seems to be increasing. The top four bottles in this month’s sale were all Macallans and all of them finished up right at the upper end of their market value – with the 1938 hitting a new high of £5700. It seems demand for these legendary bottlings remains undimmed by plentiful supply.

Macallan

Interestingly enough the Ardbeg 1972 Ping No 1 single cask matched the more emblematic Ardbeg 1976 Manager’s Choice for the first time with both settling on £2800 – an interesting sign of just how sought after they both are, and just how scarce the Ping bottling is. The rest of the upper end of the auction was populated largely by Port Ellens, a Caol Ila Manager’s Dram and a clutch of the Johnnie Walker Director’s Blend series. All of these finished up at consistent, upper-end prices. The only result at the upper end which was perhaps a little bit of a surprise was the Port Ellen SMWS 43.2, a very rare Port Ellen which – given the current voracious appetite for old and early SMWS releases – is odd not to see it go a little higher. Having said that £1100 is still a remarkable price for what was once a very cheap bottling.

Another interesting result was the Springbank 30 year old from around 1990 which finished at £925, that the 12yo 100 proof from the 1990s was not far behind on £850 says a lot about the high regard with which this bottling is held. Every time one turn up at auction it seems to climb to new heights. Despite all the bluster around modern NAS releases, occasionally one strikes a chord with buyers and collectors, the Bowmore Mizunara is such a bottling, already trading at auction above its original retail price, last night’s bottle finished at an impressive £925.

Springbank and Bowmore results

Other strong results that all showed marked award movement over previous results were the Talisker 1970 100 proof at £850, the Springbank 1967 SMWS 27.11 at £825 and the Bowmore 1972 27yo at £750. The one thing in common with all these bottlings is that they are all examples of spectacular quality liquid. It’s the one thing we can’t stress enough here at Whisky-Online Auctions – if you are going to invest in whisky, buy stuff that lots of people are really going to want to drink. Hard these days of course, ahh the benefit of hindsight!

Old Ben Nevis is another one that is increasingly popular at auction, despite the distillery’s somewhat clunky image, the older expressions are now extremely sought after. A fact well illustrated by the 1966 25 year old which finished at £700. Closed distilleries are still on the march with independent expressions from numerous bottlers soaring to new heights all over the place at the moment. The Banff 1966 by Blackadder hit £625, the Dallas Dhu 1975 SMWS 45.18 leapt up to £600 and the St Magdalene 1979 SMWS 49.6 also hit £600.

Old blends are still capable of some pretty impressive results these days, the 1940s White Horse proved once again that outward condition pales in significance to filling level with this particular example finishing at £500.

All in all it was another good sale for SMWS bottlings and independent bottlings in general with many examples hitting new highs and generally proving that a lot of attention is turning towards the old indy bottlings now. It was a strong sale of Manager’s Drams as well, after years of the Glen Elgin 15yo and the Ord 16yo being terrific value for the liquid at auction they are finally beginning to show a significant rise in price. It’s nice to see them being given the recognition they deserve.

As for bargains, an Ord 40yo for £205 seemed like a no-brainer, old Ardmore bottlings remain thoroughly under appreciated by the market for some reason and you can occasionally still buy Ardbeg 1974 for £200 it seems. Which just goes to show it is always worth watching these auctions, you just never know when you’ll get a bargain amongst all the crazy prices.

Until next time…


 

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March Whisky Auction Results

 

The March whisky auction results further demonstrated the current market appetite for the right bottles.

The Macallan 1946 editions both returned healthy and consistent results while the Black Bowmore 1st edition was up against recent results for this bottling. Even with a slightly lower fill level this bottle can still command a hammer price of £5500 – another signifier of just how highly regarded this great whisky actually is.

Macallan 1946 and Bowmore 1st edition

The Springbank 1966 Local Barley cask 443 seems to just fetch a new record price every time one comes to auction. This rare US import version – even without a box – still topped a new record price of £2800. It won’t be long before these are nudging past the £3000 mark quite comfortably. And once again: proof that incredible liquid is pretty much still the hold grail at whisky auctions.

Throughout the top end of the sale the rest of the old vintage Macallans all performed solidly with many trading towards their upper market values. It seems when we have a strong selection of these old Macallans in one sale then they all help each other perform well. Something worth bearing in mind if you have a stash of them yourself which you are considering how best to bring to market.

Another perfect example of how incredible liquid is skyrocketing these days is in the 1967 Signatory Laphroaig. This extremely scarce bottling finished up at a whopping £2200. Impressive considering the late 1960s Laphroaig single casks by Signatory have fetched around the £1200 mark over the past year. Given their increasing scarcity and the fact these are considered amongst some of the greatest whiskies ever bottled, this upward trend in price looks like it is here to stay.

Other healthy results at the upper end of the sale were the Glenlochy 1969 Rare Malts 62.2% version which fetched £1400, these are becoming increasingly scarce at auction and, as one of the earliest releases in this great series, it’s a must for collectors and an incredible dram to boot. Speaking of collectors and rarities, it’s unsurprising that the Boutiquey Whisky Co Brora – of which only 24 bottles were produced – finally settled on £1350. This is a good example of an instance where sheer rarity and collectors completist instincts take hold and deliver quite remarkable results.

1967 Signatory Laphroaig, Glenlochy 1969 Rare Malts and the Boutiquey Whisky Co Brora

Two other interesting but not altogether surprising results were the 6 year old Old Fitzgerald, an old bottling distilled at the Stitzel Weller distillery and the Black Bottle circa 1930s which finished at £1100 and £950 respectively. These were both in excellent condition and showed just what a great appetite there is today for beautiful and historic bottles from great brands or lost distilleries at auction today. The fact they are probably both incredible to drink as well was also probably a big factor. But it goes to show, well preserved and historic examples of big names make big prices.

The continued march of Macallan 18 year olds was evidenced yet again by the 1967 and 1974 which hit £775 and £800 respectively. Neither of these bottlings was in terrific condition or had tubes, but it goes to show the potency of this series and its reputation. On a totally different note a collection of SMWS newsletters and old outturns hit a remarkable £750. This says a lot about the power of information and historical artefacts to modern day collectors. This is a fascinating treasure trove of materials to anyone interested in the history of one of the greatest and most important independent bottlers, something keenly reflected in the price it fetched.

At the lower end of the sale the fact that the newly released Ardbeg Dark Cove bottles in this sale didn’t go as high as previous releases in past auctions may be an indicator that the market – and buyers in particular – have cottoned on to some extent about the predictable patterns these bottles follow. Why pay several hundred for a bottle you can pick up in a couple of months for near its original retail price. Maybe this is a sign of a market maturing and finding its feet? Time will tell…

As ever much of the rest of the lower end of the sale was quite typical of today’s secondary market, although interestingly in this auction there were few real bargains, almost everything seemed to hit its proven market value. What’s for certain is that the secondary market shows no sign of strain at the moment with buoyant prices and ample opportunity for buyers. Perhaps it really is destined to inherit a large chunk of retail’s crown…

The Whisky-Online Auctions Team

 


 

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