The territory felt both comfortable and familiar at the close of our most recent auction on Wednesday night. It’s been a while since Macallan bottles dominated the upper end of an auction so thoroughly so it was nice to see such a broad selection taking up most of the top slots.
Unsurprisingly, it was the 1938 handwritten label which took the top spot with a hammer price of £11,600. This is a record for this bottle by quite some distance. I remember writing in one of these reports – not so long ago – about this very bottling and querying just how long it would be before we saw it breach the five figure mark. Not long it seems was the answer. An impressive, if somewhat inevitable, result that should come as no surprise to those who know the reputation of the liquid in this bottle.
Following hard on the heels was the Macallan 40 year old 2016 release. Selling for circa £5000 upon release this one has more than doubled inside the space of two years with a hefty price of £10,600. Although, perhaps more impressive from a sheer increase in value point of view, is the 1981 and 1980 Exceptional Cask bottlings finishing up at £4200 and £4100 respectively. It was only last year that we noted these jumping up to around the £1200 mark. Now at over £4000 – not far off the old blue box 30 year old at £4400 – it looks like this series is set to trade at a whole new level. No doubt this is in some way helped by the fact Macallan released a new series of these Exceptional Casks for the American market recently which will have given new fervour to collectors and completists.
By comparison to these official releases, it makes the 1950 55 year old Speymalt Macallan from Gordon & MacPhail look almost cheap by comparison at £3700. I know which one I’d rather drink.
Elsewhere at the top end of the auction results were fairly consistent with the Brora 1972 Rare Malts 58.7% finishing up at a reasonable – if slightly soft – £3400. Probably something of a bargain for those fortunate enough to be able to buy at this level. Another 1950 Speymalt Macallan for £2000 also looks like a good buy from a posh drinking perspective as well. The thirst for high-end, aged American Whiskey shows no sign of abating with a bottle of Michter’s 25 year old hitting a healthy £2150.
People’s passion for old Bowmore continued unabated with an old 1960s Ship Label Sherriff’s bottling hitting a hefty £1800. Even though these bottlings are not generally regarded as the most glittering examples of this distillery from this era, they still seem to sell like hotcakes every time they appear. Also talking of bargains, the official 1968 Highland Park 35 year old single cask which sold for £1500, looks like a solid, market value price but this, for me, is the sort of bottling which still has further to go. Especially considering the astonishing quality of the liquid.
Back to Macallan briefly for a moment and the official 100 proof 10 year old bottled in the 1980s which sold for £1350. This again seems like an excellent price and showing good incremental increase on recent previous results for similar bottlings, however it’s another which – given the prices for other old official Macallans – seems like there’s still quite a way for it still to go in the near term.
Elsewhere a Bowmore 1973 vintage label for £1300 was another solid result for this distillery. The fact this liquid is vastly superior to the pricier ship label goes to show that the liquid quality doesn’t always dictate price when collectability is involved. A sister bottling without box sold for £1100 as well – another solid result for a drinker.
The increasingly sought after and hallowed Talisker 1981 sherry cask hit a healthy £1100. Narrowly outstripping an 1865 Bisquit Cognac, which seems almost cheap at £1000. But then, this is why it pays to watch these auctions as there is always something worth snooping around for.
£875 for a Dalmore 30 year old Stillman’s Reserve is a very solid return for a bottle that usually fetches around the £400-500 mark. Could this be the power of Richard Paterson’s signature? Maybe but I suspect possibly not.
Creeping up these days are the old official Tullibardine single casks, it was nice to see the 1962 cask 3185 hitting a respectable £675. Although, for an official bottling of such age this still seems somewhat cheap. Probably the perils of Tullibardine’s tricky brand I suspect. Although, from a drinking perspective, these bottlings are great and worthwhile snapping up while you can. I suspect it won’t be long before these releases are all nudging past the four figure mark.
Around the midway of the auction there were some notable and interesting results. The Bunnahabhain 1964 Moon Import Birds series hit £575. A 1974 13 year old Ardbeg Connoisseur’s Choice finished up at £550 and a 1962 official Glen Moray reached a very respectable £470. All solid results that showcased continued appetite and growth for quality older whiskies.
Moving further down the sale a few results that stood out were the Bowmore Glasgow Garden Festival 10 year old for £260 – impressive considering these could be picked up for under £100 for so long. The Bunnahabhain 1968 Family Silver steadfastly, and almost resolutely, remains rooted around the £240-280 range (this latest one finishing up at £245) despite it being fantastic whisky. I wonder how long before its time comes and we all lament always overlooking it?
A Talisker 10 year old Map Label from the 1990s hit £120, it seems this era of Talisker bottlings is well and truly set to stay over the £100 threshold now. Also, old blends such as King George IV Supreme from the 1970s which previously would have sold for around the £20 mark not so long ago are now starting to fetch more serious prices. This most recent one fetched a surprising £110. This is very much the kind of auction it was, a quieter one overall but one of those auctions that, if you look closely, you can spot quite a few upward trends emerging. As ever the market remains buoyant and confident it seems.