Tag Archives: Macallan

NOVEMBER AUCTION – CASKS HELD IN BOND – TASTING NOTES

Whisky Casks For Sale

This month’s auction features three whisky casks that are currently maturing in Scotland. First up is a an excellent, and at times unusual Macallan. This would currently yield approximately 208 x 70cl bottles of whisky currently at 28 years old.

Then we have a fascinating Tullibardine that’s unlike most other contemporary Tullibardine’s which shows real individuality. This one would currently yield approximately 211 x 70cl bottles of whisky currently at 13 years old.

And finally another Tullibardine that is a clean and richly flavoured sherry cask which has served this cask well. This would currently yield approximately 307 x 70cl bottles of whisky also currently at 13 years old.

Macallan 1990. Cask #4070. 48.4%

Colour: White wine

Nose: A soft buttery note to begin which unfolds nicely onto coal hearths, damp earth, linseed oil, furniture polish and delicate tertiary notes of coconut, lemon balm, dried herbs and cough medicine. There is a resilient cereal note running underneath as well; crisp, lean and malty. In time there are notes of dried banana chips, sunflower seeds and other trail mix qualities. The overall impression is one of a fine-textured, well-balanced malt whisky.

Palate: Good weight and texture. Slightly petroly and oily with notes of grassy olive oil and mineral oil. Very light camphor and wax aspects as well. More well-structured cereal qualities, some natural sweetness and hints of various dried herbs. These ever so slight medical aspects resurge with these notes of cough medicine and orange throat sweets. Get’s spicier over time as well, towards freshly ground white pepper and cinnamon bark.

Finish: Long, spicy, dry, slightly mineral and with some unusual notes of steel wool, pine needles, wood resins and coal dust. Still rather precise and punchy.

Comments: An excellent, and at times unusual in a good way, example of Macallan. One which feels ready now and would probably not benefit from too much further ageing. The strength and flavours are all evenly matched and well integrated. A good, very tasty whole that outweighs the sum of its parts.

1990 Macallan Whisky Cask For Sale

Tullibardine 2005. Cask #186. 57.7%

Colour: Oaked white wine.

Nose: Potted plants in a greenhouse. Lots of greenery, cut grass, cactus, green banana, peppery salad leaves and some rather oily, fatty green fruit notes as well. Lime cordial, gomme syrup, various fruit liqueurs and a fascinating note of mustardy vinagrette. Quite unusual, but big, oily and very inviting with this rather opulent fruitiness. Unlike many other Tullibardines. Continues with notes of gauze, oily rag, marzipan and sweetened herbal extracts.

Palate: Big, fatty, spicy, sooty, herbal and rich. There’s a rather impressive oiliness and aspects of crisp maltiness, lean bacon fat, turmeric, salted flat breads, muesli, sweet oatmeal and wood glue. Quite unlike most other malt whiskies of similar age. In time it goes towards cod live oil, white flowers and soft waxes. There’s also a fermenting, yeasty quality about it – hints of sourdough, fizzy lemon and ink.

Finish: Rather long and mouth coating. It’s a big, textural, fatty style of distillate. Leaves behind notes of mixed dried herbs, wood spice, glue and strong, earthy teas.

Comments: A fascinating cask. Unlike most other contemporary Tullibardines. This one shows real individuality, great texture and a beguiling fruitiness. Could easily be bottled now or left to age for at least another decade quite comfortably. A very fun style of whisky that should make for a great conversation stoker.

2005 Tullibardine whisky cask for auction

Tullibardine 2005. Cask #267. 58.4%

Colour: deep amber / polished rosewood.

Nose: This one feels very much about the cask at first nosing. Lots of sweetened black tea, jasmine, tea tree oils, creme de menthe, black pepper and cured meats. Thick, fatty, earthy and with plenty hessian and coal dust. There’s also toasted oak, ripe banana, milk chocolate, walnuts and mixed dark fruits soaked in cognac. Quite excellent.

Palate: Big, thick, resinous and sweet sherry. Lots of coco, walnuts, strawberry wine, gingerbread, lemon thyme, espresso, bovril and damp sack cloth. Some wee touches of treacle, salty old oloroso and rancio as well. It’s really the sherry that does the talking with this one but it’s an excellent and characterful – and most importantly clean – style of sherry so it works very well.

Finish: Long, earthy, gingery, spicy and ultimately syrupy, sweet and slightly mentholated. Comments: An excellent, clean and richly flavoured sherry cask which has served this Tullibardine well. Would continue to mature well for at least another decade.

Comments: An excellent, clean and richly flavoured sherry cask which has served this Tullibardine well. Would continue to mature well for at least another decade.

 

Tullibardine whisky cask for sale

If you are interested in buying this cask, you can register to bid on our auction here: https://www.whisky-onlineauctions.com/create-account/

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OCTOBER AUCTION RESULTS 2018

October whisky auction results

Another raft of impressive prices were realised in our latest auction. The top item was, as expected, the cask of 1989 Macallan which fetched £90,100 – slightly higher than recent similar Macallan casks suggesting they may well be on the rise again as appetite remains undimmed. Perhaps more tellingly was the full set of Millennium Springbanks which hit £21,100, a record for this set by some distance. Given the way, prices have been going for older Springbanks recently this is hardly surprising. Hard to believe you could pick up a complete set for under £6000 a couple of years ago.

A second edition Black Bowmore was similarly impressive at £13,100. Although, given the track record of this series in recent times, these kinds of results are no longer that surprising. Neither was the £8400 paid for the Sherriff’s Bowmore 8-year-old pear-shaped. A stunning whisky of legendary repute which explains the serious prices people are clearly willing to pay for such a whisky. These kinds of bottles will likely never be cheaper again given their scarcity.

Sherriss's Bowmore

The upper end of the auction

In fact, the whole upper end of the auction was a string of examples of these kinds of serious yet unsurprising prices for remarkable bottles. The UK version of the famed Samaroli Springbank 12-year-old at £10,100 is another perfect example. As is the Jura 1964 Cadenhead Dumpy for £3300. It seems these days that any bottle of seriously perceived whisky that rarely sees the secondary market is bound to fetch a hefty four-figure sum minimum. With many increasingly entering the five-figure range – some jumping there with rather staggering speed in recent months.

Of course, it isn’t only malts that impress. Famous blended brands such as the Islay Mist also do exceptionally well whenever they turn up – the 1950s bottling at £3600 being a particularly rare and pristine example. Given the repute of these whiskies, I’d almost say this price was on the soft side but it’s probably best not to start getting into the mindset of £3600 for a bottle of whisky being cheap.

The Macallans were all as you might expect price wise, as was the 1970s Laphroaig 10-year-old at £2150. Perhaps more interesting was the Ardbeg Provenance at £2250. It has taken a slow and winding time for the Provenances to reach this price point and they do seem slightly out of kilter with the more expensive sibling Ardbeg bottlings from the late 1990s. Given the quality of the Provenance whiskies, I wonder if they aren’t going to jump up another level in price within the next six months or so?

One of the most beautiful bottles in the sale was no doubt the Old Pulteney bottled by Cadenhead in the 1960s at 85 proof. A stunning and rarely seen whisky, this one is one of a few of this bottling that have found their way to market over the past year or so which explains it’s slightly softer £1800 result. However, this is still an impressive price which demonstrates the demand for older bottlings from the famous bottlers such as Cadenhead. Especially unusual ones such as this Pulteney.

Old Pulteney Cadenheads

The Lagavulin Syndicate 38-year-olds are all holding well at £1550. Once the initial supply of these bottles to the market has dried up I suspect the price of this one will start to climb fairly significantly. Something of a surprise at the same price tag was the Littlemill 1964 32-year-old distillery bottling from the 1990s. No doubt the recent uptick in interest for Littlemill and other closed distilleries, in general, helped this one along its way.

Demand for older Gordon & MacPhail bottlings also appears to remain undimmed with the Talisker 1967 100 Proof and the Highland Park St Magnus fetching £1550 and £1500 respectively. These are hefty prices, but given the great filling levels, general condition of the bottles and stunning reputations of the whiskies, these seem like fair prices for these whiskies in today’s market. If you can afford to bid at these price levels I think these are no-brainer bottles to go for.

Talisker 1967 100 proof Highland Park St Magnus Label

 

Results around the £1,000

Other notable results around the £1000 mark were the 1966 Macallan Speymalt by Gordon & MacPhail at £1300. A strong result for this bottling and maybe a sign of higher interest in Speymalt series – an inevitability given their repute, content and the price of similarly aged official Macallans.

There was the Laphroaig 1968 Hart Brothers at £1250, the Ardbeg 1974 Signatory at £1300 and the Springbank 1979 Cadenhead white label at £1150. All of which were strong results for these particular bottlings.

Going down through the middle of the sale stand out results include the Signatory 1974 Bowmore at £825, the Glendronach 1960 23-year-old Connoisseur’s Choice at £825 and the Glen Garioch 1970 27-year-old single cask for £825. All of which are something of a climb on recent results for these bottlings.

The Lagavulin 1984 – 1995 SMWS 111.3 bottling at £800 also demonstrates just how powerful the combination of a big name distillery and a rarely seen SMWS bottle number can be. A similar whisky of that age and vintage from another bottler wouldn’t have climbed that high. Just as a 1960s bottle of Jameson Crested Ten Irish Whiskey at £725 demonstrated that demand for older Irish Whiskeys is starting to increase significantly. No doubt the surge of excellent older bottlings on the market, coupled with increased global interest and many new distilleries starting up is fuelling new collector interest.

Lagavulin SMWS 111.3 Jameson Crested Ten

Even in today’s market Macallan can continue to surprise. A pair of standard 1990’s 10-year-olds at £575 apiece seems eye-wateringly daft. Especially when there’s a Highland Park 1973 SMWS 4.87 just beneath it for £525.

All in all, this was a strong sale with a wide spread of excellent bottles – quite a few of them scarcely seen in today’s secondary market. As a result, prices were pretty high across the board. Even for bottlings, you might not think much of on the face of it. For example, a 1978 21-year-old Glenlossie at £310 seems pretty steep. But this just demonstrates the breadth of the buying audience that exists around the world for good old malt whiskies these days. It doesn’t look as if things are going to change anytime soon. Until next time.

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OCTOBER AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Black Bowmore 1964
2nd Edition

When it comes to dark, heavily sherried whiskies the first whisky that comes to mind has to be the Black Bowmore. There’s a lot of hype over certain whiskies and sometimes the romance can spoil one’s expectations – but not this one! I’ve been lucky enough to try this on several occasions and it has blown me away every time.

This example was originally purchased in 1994 by the vendor direct from Gordon & MacPhail for their bar. This was a time when single malt whisky was yet to boom and a time when a case of 6 Black Bowmore cost a mere £504.16. The vendor said many locals preferred a pint and a shot of the going blend so the bottle sat behind the bar unopened for the best part of 15 years until he retired.

It’s been nearly a years since we’ve auction one of the original three Black Bowmore’s which puts into perspective how rare these ‘legendary’ whiskies are now becoming.

Sherriff’s Bowmore 8-year-old
Bottled 1960s

Another rare treat from Bowmore is this utterly beautiful Bowmore that wears its age on its sleeve. This was bottled under the Sherriff’s label sometime during the 1960s, but I’m not entirely convinced which side. Going from the collection this comes from it could possibly be the late-1960s which would make this an early 1960s distillate. If it was bottled in the early-mid-1960s we’re looking at mid-late-1950s distillate. Either way, you’re in for a treat as this has been ranked higher than the Black Bowmore.

Islay Mist D. Johnston & Co. Laphroaig Distillery
Strength 25 Under Proof

Without a doubt the most stunning and interesting whisky in this sale.

Islay Mist is a blend that was first created in the 1920s as a bit of a fluke by Ian Hunter, the distillery manager at Laphroaig. He was appointed by Hugh Morrison of Islay House to choose a whisky for his son’s 21st Birthday. Ian thought Laphroaig alone would be too peaty for some guests so he created a vatting with a number of Speyside whiskies. It was such a success it has long since been the go-to peated blend ever since.

Until 1992 Laphroaig has always been the base malt along with other key distilleries that often included Glenlivet & Glen Grant. This example from the 1950s is by far the oldest example we have ever come across. The whiskies composed to make up Islay Mist were generally at least 8 years old which means that it is possible this will contain whisky distilled in the 1940s.

For us, although surrounded by some of the most well thought of whiskies in the World, has to be the one to look out for in this sale. A classic example of old school blended whisky in pristine condition and yet another unseen whisky soon to join our sales archive.

Springbank 12-year-old – Sherry Cask
57.1% (100 PROOF SIKES)

Among the most desirable Springbank’s out there has to be this 100 Proof Springbank. We’ve only seen this variation appear once before and that was in one of our sales back in 2015. It’s very likely this is the same liquid as the legendary Samaroli Springbank. There’s no firm way to confirm this, however, their strengths are identical as is the colour of the liquid; so it would suggest it is the same incredible whisky as the famous Samaroli version which is one of only a tiny handful of whiskies to score 98/100 on whiskyfun. A great find and a very rare chance to get this extremely obscure variation of a legendary bottling.

Springbank 1977 Official Bottling
DOWTS Label

Another incredibly rare Springbank appearing in our October sale is this unusual official offering. This was bottled in 1996 as a private enterprise. The label was designed by artist Emma Dunbar. I spoke with Emma and her inspiration was based on the tasting notes at the time. DOWTS, I believe are the initials of the surnames of the original 5 people of the syndicate. The ‘stickmen’ represent the people’s occupations/hobbies.  There’s no ABV stated, however, the beading suggests its high and most certainly cask strength. Definitely, one to look out for whether you’re a drinker or collector!

Springbank Millennium Set

The Springbank Millennium Collection was originally launched back September 1998; the first to be released was the 25-year-old followed by the 30-year-old in March 1999, the 35-year-old in September 1999, the 40-year-old in March 2000, the 45-year-old in September 2000 and finally the 50-year-old in March 2001. As the vendor was the original purchaser he was able to complete the set with the miniatures which can also be found in this sale. A beautiful set with liquid to boot.

All the best from all of us here at Whisky Online Auctions.

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OCTOBER AUCTION – CASK HELD IN BOND – TASTING NOTES

Macallan Whisky Cask For Sale

Maturing stock is becoming a regular feature in our monthly auctions now.  And this month we have another Macallan cask that will hit 30 years old in June next year.  Have a read of our tasting notes and let us know what you think…

Cask #9313: Originally filled on the 12/06/1989  into a 3rd fill Hogshead. This cask would currently yield approximately 213 x 70cl bottles of whisky currently at 29 years of age.

Colour: Straw

Nose: Light and very fresh. Cut grass, bailed hay, straw, citrus rind, peppery watercress and some light notes of shoe polish and new leather. Definitely towards the softer side of Macallan. With a little breathing time it begins to reveal herbal notes such as fresh oregano and rosemary. Also some earthier, rootier qualities and a sweetness that alludes to milk bottle sweets.

Palate: Similarly soft, delicate and gentle. Lots of citrus oils, earthy turmeric, a gentle sunflower oil note and some supple mineral notes. Again these greener qualities come through as chopped parsley and chives, cut grass and a foresty bracken note. Some hints of pine resin, clove, more polish notes and a light green pepper aspect.

Finish: Medium in length. A rising sootiness, more lemon aspects although this time manifesting in a more medicinal, cough syrupy fashion. These soft peppery qualities persist into the aftertaste giving a warming sensation.

Conclusions: A cask which really shows the lighter side of Macallan. Could potentially last until 30 quite well, although probably not much beyond. At the moment the alcohol level gives good bite and mouthfeel which helps bolster the otherwise rather soft qualities of the distillate.

If you are interested in buying this cask, you can register to bid on our auction here: https://www.whisky-onlineauctions.com/create-account/

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SEPTEMBER AUCTION RESULTS 2018

September whisky auction results

Last night’s auction finished with a slew of prices at the upper end of the sale that might once have been described as eye-popping. But think what it says about today’s secondary whisky market and how much things have changed in the space of only about 3 years, that we can look at a Macallan 65-year-old Lalique for £41,100, or a Bowmore 1964 Fino for £15,600 and simply take those prices in our stride? How times change… 

Also interesting was the 1996 hogshead of Tobermory that fetched £12,700, not in the same league as other bigger named distilleries of similar ages, but this is a serious price for a name like Tobermory. It seems casks are now very much part of the fabric of whisky auctioneering. And, arguably, where the smart money went in recent years.

Most of the bottles at the upper end of this sale were predictably on the high side. Results such as the Bowmore Gold for £12,400 or the Macallan Anniversary Malt 1968 for £3300 were all pretty typical. More telling – and perhaps more interesting – was the Lagavulin SMWS 111.1 selling for £4100. Another of these bottles that shot from sub four figures to this sort of result in a very short space of time. And further evidence of the hunger there is out there, not just for older, sherried Islays or Lagavulin, but for Scotch Malt Whisky Society rarities. Especially low numbers.

Other tasty examples were the Wray & Nephews 1962 25-year-old commemorative rum. The name Wray & Nephew carries some serious clout amongst rum lovers so it wasn’t surprising to see it fetching £2600. Another long undervalued bottling was the Gordon & MacPhail Secret Stills Talisker 1955 which fetched £2350. Again, this bottling was hovering around the £400-600 mark for quite a long time and it is underrated liquid so it’s nice to see it garnering a little more limelight.

The Lagavulin 38-year-old Syndicate bottlings all held strong at £1600 a piece. Exactly the same result as the Dalmore 1981 Matusalem Sherry Finesse bottling. I know which one I’d rather drink, but that just goes to show how varied the secondary market is these days in terms of a buyer profile. And how the effects of that spending is creating multiple bubbles and effects. Speaking of Lagavulin, it was notable that the 1985 Special Releases 21-year-old hit a muscular £1400, further confirming this bottling is comfortably on its way to the £2000 mark.

In terms of milestones though, perhaps the most notable was the Oban Bicentenary Manager’s Dram. Two bottles of which finished up at £1100, comfortably across the four-figure line. This bottling has been going from strength to strength lately, it will be interesting if it settles down now or continues it’s almost month by month march up the price range.

Laphroaig 1969 Connoisseur’s Choice performed well at £1000 and the Ardbeg Mor 1st release held strong at £950. While other examples of the Manager’s Dram series also continued to perform well, the Clynelish, Aberfeldy and Cardhu bottlings hitting £750, £725  and £675 respectively. While a 1980s 15-year-old Springbank knocked the ball out of the park at £700. These older official standard range Springbanks are good indicator that it is wise to never underestimate Springbank. Even today it’s probably worth putting aside a case of the current 10-year-old every so often. You never know how things will be in 10 – 20 years… 

One long underrated bottling it was good to see doing a little better was the Glen Calder 40 year old at £550. Technically a blend, this beautiful old dram really just tastes like a late 1940s single malt. Nice to see it getting a bit more recognition. Impressive in a different way was the Compass Box Hedonism hitting £525. Exactly the same price as the Dunvilles rotation 1948 half bottle. Another juxtaposed pair that illustrates the wildly different spending habits and buyer profiles which are converging to create today’s secondary market.

It’s interesting to see how a large proportion of Port Ellen bottlings are sitting around the £400-500 mark rather consistently these days – especially numerous independent examples from the likes of Douglas Laing. I think these bottles are still worth buying at this price. Sooner or later there will be a market shift upwards to the £600-800 range and not long after that four figures will loom on the horizon. On a 3-5 year investment, these look like good buys. Not to mention if you’re a drinker looking for a slightly more reasonable Port Ellen – most are terrific drams!

Back to the Manager’s Drams and the Talisker 17-year-old landed on £400. Unsurprising as this terrific bottling was never going to sit around the £200 mark forever. In all likelihood, this one will continue to rise steadily for the foreseeable.

In terms of bargains then, once again and rather predictably, there weren’t many. The I W Harper 1946 – 1952 looked interesting for old Bourbon fans at £260. Just as the Johnnie Walker Liqueur looked totally bewildering at £235 – the contemporary power of a brand name! The Balblair 1986 CASK bottling by Gordon & MacPhail was a good buy at £195, as was the Glenfarclas 1990 Family Cask 9246 at the same hammer price. Both exceptional drams.

Another soon to shift bottling, I suspect, will be all these 1980s Highland Park 12-year-olds in the old screen print dumpy presentation. Most contain wonderful, old school, subtly peaty, sherried Highland Park. They’ve sat, across almost all auctions, around the £160-200 mark for quite some time and represent pretty great drinking value at that price. I suspect it won’t be long before they move into the £250-300 range – then beyond. Might be worth snapping one up before they do. A 1952 – 1977 Hine Cognac also looks highly quaffable, and something of an anomaly at £140.

Generally though, it was slim pickings for bargain hunters in this sale. As ever the market remains powerful and a weak pound hits UK buyers but helps sellers. The fever of whisky is far from diminishing. Let’s see what next month brings… 

 

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SEPTEMBER AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS 2018

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Macallan 65-year-old in Lalique

After over 10 years since the first release of the 50-year-old back in 2006, the collaboration with Macallan & Lalique has come a long way. This Macallan 65-year-old is the final release in the series and completes the Six Pillars collection. At the time of its release in 2016, this was one of the oldest and rarest whiskies the distillery had to boast. Drawn from ex-Sherry casks we can only imagine the flavours such whisky has to offer.  Lalique’s contribution was inspired by Rene Lalique’s legacy, Marc Larminaux. The design is based around a single peerless drop of The Macallan. These were limited to 450 Worldwide.

Bowmore 1964 Fino Sherry Cask

Part of a legendary trilogy of different wood matured 1964 Bowmore’s. This, along with pretty much any Bowmore distilled in 1964 is regarded among the best whisky ever bottled. A stunning bottling and an absolutely exquisite whisky.

Cask Held In Bond

We have yet another Tobermory cask up for auction in this sale.  This is a really excellent, characterful Tobermory. Devoid of any of this distillery’s usual problematic cardboard or overly mashy or grainy notes. This is lean, medical, muscular and well-defined. The kind of cask which is. Continue reading »

Managers Drams

We have a haul of Managers Drams in this sale ranging from the Cardhu bottled in 1998  through to the Knockando bottled 2012.

This series is becoming harder and harder to obtain due to the fact they’re highly collectable and particularly very good quality. As more and more realise how good these whiskies are, the prices will only continue to climb as we’ve seen in the last several months.

Ones to look out for that I’ve tried amongst this bunch include the Cardhu bottled at a hefty 63% and quite easily the two Oban’s. Particularly the 16-year-old sherry cask bottled for the distilleries Bicentenary. This one tops the Cardhu with a strength of 64% but does not need interfering with any water whatsoever.

Rare Malts Selection

Joining the Managers Drams is another pinnacle series under the house of Diageo. The Rare Malts Selection. First launched back in 1995 to champion their rare stock – interestingly it was not just to showcase long aged whiskies but instead to display each distilleries best qualities in their natural form. In this sale, you will find a small selection of some of the more desirable examples. Including a 1970 St Magdalene 58.1%, a 1971 Glenury Royal 61.3%, a 1971 Hillside 62.0%, and a 1973 Cardhu 60.5% – this is one of the hardest to find strength variants in the Rare Malts series and hardly ever turns up in auction. And finally a 1975 Brora 54.9% & 1982 58.1%.

First Ever Bottling Of Distillery 111
Scotch Malt Whisky Society

From the Archives. The distillery stands close to the ruins of Dunyvaig castle, once the stronghold of the Lord of the Isles. Here is a great opportunity to see just how different the cask makes in the flavour of mature whisky.

Wetsuits and burnt toast
This whisky is quite different from the next one. It has spent the last 15 years in a first-fill, Spanish oak dry-oloroso butt. Its colour is that of old Madeira (or polished mahogany). The neat nose is redolent of sherry, with some soap flakes and fudge. With water an extraordinary scent of neoprene (the stuff wetsuits are made of) is first noted, then a trace of marzipan, exotic smoke, caramelised sugar heather stalks, sea tangle, burnt toast. Winter smells. Great with smoked salmon, or upon retiring from a walk.

All the best from all of us here at Whisky Online Auctions.

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Alex Barclay Miniature Auction Part 2

Auction 2 of 5

It’s time for the next instalment of our auctions dedicated to the Alex Barclay Miniature Collection. A couple of months ago, Wayne, Harrison & Sarah travelled to Birmingham to collect over 5000 miniatures from Alex Barclay, president of the Mini Bottle Club. The collection is so large that we are splitting it into five auctions of around a thousand bottles each. For more information about Alex’s extraordinary collection, check out our exclusive interview on the blog here.

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This month’s selection includes a very large number of miniatures from two of the UK’s best independent bottlers: Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory.  Both of these companies were well ahead of the game and have played important roles in creating the market for single malt whiskies as we know it today, so of course there are some absolutely fantastic bottles up for sale in this auction.

The headline minis in this month’s auction include some very rare old vintage malts from highly sought-after distilleries.

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Gordon & Macphail were the de facto official bottlers of Macallan for many years, and the auction has several great examples, including the high strength Macallan 100 Proof, Macallan 15yo 100 Proof and a very rare 4cl version of Macallan 15yo 100 Proof for Italy.  They also bottled what is widely believed to be Macallan as the Pride of Strathspey – there’s a wonderful 1937 Pride of Strathspey 50yo included this month.  Not to be outdone, Signatory, who are also famous for their vintage bottlings, have this cask strength Macallan 1964 bottled early in the company’s history in 1992.

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Staying with blue chip distilleries and there are some fabulous 50 year-olds from Gordon & MacPhail, including three Mortlachs from 1936, 1938 and 1939 and a Glenlivet 1940, all with the Book of Kells-style font.  These are in great condition considering they were bottled thirty years ago in the mid to late 1980s.

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Gordon & MacPhail were also early bottlers of Talisker, and there are a few of their iconic bottlings including this Talisker 100 Proof from the famous black label ‘Eagle’ series and a couple of lovely Talisker 1955 Cask Strength bottlings from 1992 and 1993.

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Both G&M and Signatory have 1967 Laphroaigs in this auction as well, with the G&M Laphroaig 1967 an early brown label Connoisseurs Choice bottling from the early 1980s  and the Signatory bottling a cask strength Laphroaig 1967 bottled in 1995.

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There are hundreds more brilliant single malts available from both these bottlers in this month’s auction, with very rare experimental drams from Mosstowie and Glen Craig, seldom-seen long-dead distilleries including Coleburn, Convalmore, Glen Flagler, Kinclaith and Ben Wyvis and, of course, a slew of highly desirable drams from more familiar ghost distilleries such as Port Ellen, Rosebank, Lochside and Brora.  

The really rare stars of this auction, though are even older. The depth of Alex’s collection never ceases to amaze us and this is illustrated best by the amazing old blends and single malts from the 1950s, ‘40s and even earlier.  

72799-1033-1The headline-grabbers here are a pair of minis blended using whisky from Orkney’s fabled Stromness distillery, which closed in 1928 and was demolished during the 1940s: Old Orkney and Old Orkney Relics Grand 12yo, the latter a truly beautiful bottle that sadly has preserved only a small amount of its original contents.

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These treasures line up alongside more familiar gems including brilliantly-preserved examples of White Horse 1956, King George IV, Black & White, a fantastic, very rare Cardow (Cardhu) bottled late 1950s or early ‘60s, a stunning old Islay Mist in incredible condition and a gorgeous, very old Ainslie & Heilbron’s King’s Liqueur. More esoteric ancient treasures include an antique Strathmohr (not to be confused with the later Strathmore) and the medicinally-themed Special Fortification. We don’t know very much about this one, other than it’s very old and the label is wonderful – many of Alex’s miniatures are real works of art.

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There’s really something for everyone in this month’s auction! Good Luck, and Happy Bidding.

 

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AUGUST AUCTION RESULTS 2018

Our latest auction closed with more than a few surprises. Not least around the upper end of the sale where the top lot was, unsurprisingly, a hogshead of 1989 Macallan. However, with a hammer price of £70,200, it suggests that prices are beginning to cool off a little for bonded stocks of whisky, certainly in comparison to other recent results we’ve achieved for Macallan casks. Although, it’s worth remembering with this cask that the ABV was rather critically low, which no doubt was reflected in the price.  Putting this in perspective, £70,200 is still way above what would have been, until very recently, considered standard market value for such a cask in bond.

On the flip side, £25,600 for a cask of 1994 Tobermory seems surprisingly expensive, even in today’s market, for a less widely lauded make such as Tobermory. Somewhat understandably cask 5015 was a butt and cask 39, which fetched £17,100 a hogshead, even though, that’s still a hefty price for 1994 Tobermory. Further evidence that no matter what cask you’re sitting on, if it’s got a bit of age to it, you could be in for a pretty nice surprise at auction. It’s certainly an easy way to capitalise without the hassle and cost of bottling. 

On to the bottles and it was good to see Bowmore back at the top of the sale. The ‘coulours’ trilogy of Black, Gold and White seem rather unstoppable these days with respective prices of £18,700, £11,900 and £14,100. All of them outstripping even the Macallan 1946 at £11,100. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to taste one of these bottlings of Bowmore, it’s not hard to see where such intense prices come from. These are some of the best and most distinctive spirits ever made by human hand in these bottles. 

One of the biggest surprises of this auction, at first glance, is the Springbank 1965 SMWS 27.7 which fetched a rather staggering £6100. Even for a 60s Springbank, this is eye-catching stuff. However, look a bit closer and do a bit of digging and it becomes a bit more understandable. This bottling hasn’t shown up at auction in years and, at 60.2%, it looks to be a pretty remarkable dram. There are numerous series collectors out there for all manner of SMWS bottlings these days so it’s hardly surprising that when such a tasty rarity surfaces, in today’s bullish market, competition is so fierce. 

Other rather striking results which speak to the nature of today’s secondary market include the old 1960s official bottling of ‘Cardow 100% Pot Still‘ which finished up at £5800. Such a rarity in near immaculate condition was always destined to do well so in many ways this isn’t so surprising. Although it is a sobering reminder of just how much of rich man’s game serious old and rare whisky has become. 

Joining the Cardhu was the uber rare bottling of Macallan 12-year-old at 100 proof by Gordon & MacPhail bottled in 1971. There is a 15-year-old version of this which is slightly more common, but the 12 is indeed the definition of scarcity. This pristinely preserved version deserved its £5100 hammer price. What’s more, it was nice to see a non-official Macallan take one of the top Macallan spots in the auction for once. For serious whisky lovers, this is a dream bottling. 

Speaking of dream bottles, perhaps the most beautiful examples in this sale were the pair of Taliskers bottled in the 1950s by Wolverhampton & Dudley. Examples have shown up in the distant past at auction, but to find two such perfect examples today is really like being handed something out of a time warp. Little wonder they fetched £4600 a piece. The kind of bottle you’d kill to taste. 

Other bottles in the upper end of the sale that stuck out were the official Springbank 1965 Local Barley for £3000. Looking at the prices of 60s Springbanks in general, both here, elsewhere and at retail. It seems there is something of a pretty serious upward shift in prices occurring across the board. I doubt it’ll be long before we start to see these kinds of bottles regularly break the five-figure barrier. 

The 50-year-old 1949 Glen Grant by Ian MacLeod at £2900 was a solid result for this bottling. While the Glenugie 1966 by The Bottlers for £2700 was also seriously impressive. Glenugie is another name which is currently rocketing skywards in price. For anyone who has tasted some of these 60s Glenugies, it is hardly surprising. 

Dalmore 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lagavulin 1979 38 year old by the Syndicate and the Laphroaig 19.0 anniversary bottling all hit the £2000 on the head. For the Lagavulin, it was the first time it had gone this high, which suggests a slow and steady climb even higher from here on out. The Dalmore result shows this distillery still had some serious clout at auction, even for what might be considered less impressive bottlings like the 1973. And for the Laphroaig, it’s generally a case of rarity with this bottling. Most were consumed upon release due to the lottery system under which it was sold. Whenever it shows up at auction there is usually a bit of a scuffle to get it. 

Some other notable results above the £1000 mark were the Bunnahabhain 1968 Auld Acquaintance at £1350, how long before this great bottling hits the £2000 mark? A Macallan 1962 Cadenhead Dumpy looks almost cheap at the same price of £1350 however, considering its quality and scarcity. And rounding off the £1350 club was the Ardbeg 17-year-old Cadenhead Dumpy. A natural if slightly soft price for this equally historic bottling. 

The Isle of Skye 50-year-old showed good progress cracking the £1000 mark for the first time, while the Bowmore Sea Dragon 30-year-old conversely seemed a tad soft at £1300. Dipping below the four-figure mark it was lovely to see two stunningly preserved old blends, the Benmore Liqueur Scotch Whisky and the Duffs Liqueur Scotch, both hitting an understandable £975 a piece. 

 

Looking through the rest of the auction there were many impressive results. Too many to mention. Notable examples would be the two Oban 16-year-old Bicentenary Manager’s Drams at £925 apiece, outstripping even the official Oban 1969 at £850. Similarly, the pair of Ord 16-year-old Manager’s Drams for £600 a piece lent further weight to the continued upward march of the early Manager’s Drams series. 

Beyond that, almost every lot was hitting its market value. Normally it’s possible to pinpoint one or two notable bargains or stand out anomalies. However, on this occasion, it really was a case of slim pickings. It seems that, in this day and age where more and more people are migrating their spending from retail to auction, prices are only solidifying, even at the £30-60 range of an auction. Interesting times… 

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AUGUST AUCTION – FULL CASK HELD IN BOND – TASTING NOTES

Macallan Whisky Cask For Sale

Coming up in our August auction is a selection of casks held in bond. Highlighting the bunch is this 1989 Macallan. Originally filled on 06/03/1989 into a refill Hogshead with 249 bulk Litres. 

This cask is held at Macallan Distillery, Easter Elchies House, Scotland. It was regauged on 04/06/2018. The new regauged litres were found to be approximately 132 Bulk litres at a strength of 42.4%. This would currently yield approximately 188 x 70cl bottles of whisky currently at 29 years old.

Whisky Online Auctions Tasting Notes: Macallan 1989. Cask # 3480

Colour: White wine

Nose: surprisingly, and rather thrillingly, quite fruity. There are these distinctly tropical aspects which nod towards these old Irish single malts from similar vintages. Lots of lemon, melon, ripe apple, gooseberry, banana and guava. An even mix of ripe green and tropical fruits that gives an abundance of freshness. There’s also raw malt, buttery cereals and barley water. A wonderful example of a naked and distillery character forward old Macallan. 

Palate: cornflour, buttered toast and earthier, sootier qualities as well. Some hints of peppery watercress, ointment, sack cloth and lemon balm. Milk bottle sweeties, cornflakes and drier notes of crushed aspirin and menthol gum. Some dried herbs as well, bouquet garni, olive oil and a hint of angelic root. Light in texture but there’s still a firmness about it overall which is quite satisfying.

Finish: Good length. Rather oily, buttery, cereal and lemony. Moving more towards a classical style Speyside. 

Comments: Ready for bottling now. More textbook on the palate but the nose is really terrific. Overall an excellent Macallan that shows the distillery character up front and in a lighter profile than usual. The emphasis on fruits is extremely interesting. 

If you are interested in buying this cask, you can register to bid on our auction here: https://www.whisky-onlineauctions.com/create-account/

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JULY AUCTION RESULTS 2018

The last time we sold a Dalmore 50-year-old was in May 2017 when it fetched an impressive £18,600. Fifteen months later, last night, bottle number one finished up at £28,000 on the nose. At one time such a result would have been pretty staggering but it says a lot about the nature of today’s secondary market that these kinds of serious five-figure sums have become almost ubiquitous. Still, this is an impressive result no doubt and shows that whiskies of genuine and deserved legend such as the Dalmore 50 are going nowhere but up. There is in fact almost an argument that it always makes sense to buy them if you can because they will only ever be more expensive. Say this same whisky turns up again in five months time. Would it make sense to buy it for, say, £38,000 – 45,000? I would argue that it would because the year or two after you can most likely sell it for £60,000. It’s just a matter of cash flow really. Which brings us back to the reality that, at this level, whisky is very much a commodity and a rich person’s game.

Once again Macallan displayed impressive strength and consistency at the top level of the sale. £20,000 on the nose for the 1946 Fine & Rare, £4000 for the 1958 Anniversary Malt and – somewhat bewilderingly – £3600 for the Diamond Jubilee. This is the thing about Macallan, you can understand it when the whisky in question is of the stunning, old style sherried variety, it’s somewhat more bizarre when it is, essentially, a contemporary NAS single malt. Such is the power of the name.

In fact, save for two bottles, one of which was the Dalmore 50, Macallan dominated the entire top end of the sale all the way down to a Springbank 1964 Cadenhead 34-year-old at a healthy, and somewhat unsurprising, £2500. In between all that one of the most interesting, and telling, high results were for John Scott’s 1965 35-year-old Highland Park which finished up at £3300. I remember buying the 42-year-old in this series in London in 2008 for £180 and subsequently drinking it. Given the quality of the whisky in these John Scott Highland Park bottlings, it seems retrospectively obvious that they would end up at such prices.

It was good to see the Glenfarclas 105 40-year-old back, hitting a healthy £2150 after a reasonable period of absence. Similarly, the Mortlach 1936 45-year-old and MacPhail’s 1938 45-year-old both did well at £1950 and £1900 respectively.

Springbank 12-year-old 100 proof bottlings from the 1990s have sat around the £1000 mark for quite some time now, so it was interesting to see one last night finish up at £1850 – exactly the same as the 22-year-old Cadenhead dumpy Springbank. This looks like it could well represent a bump up to a new trading level for this bottle, something not underserved considering what a legendary whisky it is.

The Lagavulin Syndicate 38-year-old appears to be holding strong at £1600. Another of quite a few Springbanks in this sale, the 1969 Signatory 28-year-old, performed well at £1150. Similarly, independent Macallans are increasingly chasing their official siblings up the auction levels with three Douglas Laing 30-year-old single casks fetching £1100 and £1050 respectively.

The Ardbeg Mor 1st edition was back on strong form at £900. And the long-awaited inaugural bottling of Daftmill single malt looks like a strong future classic, trading as it is already at £625. The Ardbeg 1975 and 1977 official vintage releases at £600 and £575 respectively showed good solid growth for these old classic bottlings.

Other strong results were a 1947 White Horse for £490, although for the historic nature of this liquid this also still seems like a good price for a drinker as well. The Cragganmore 17-year-old Manager’s Dram and the Glen Elgin 16 Manager’s Dram both did well at £450 and £525 respectively. This whole series is on the upward move so it’s nice to see these two slightly underrated examples getting the attention they deserve.

Similarly, Glen Ord, another seriously underrated distillery, saw one of the best examples ever bottled fetch an impressive £410. Although, if you ask me, this still represents good value for the liquid. Old Balblairs are another area where plenty of examples were arguably too cheap for too long, it seems this is changing as well. The 1974 ‘Highland Selection’ Balblair fetched a solid £390.

Although, at the same price levels one of the bargains of the sale was the Strathisla 35-year-old Bicentenary for £390. Given this is known to be a 1947 Strathisla it’s a terrific price for a drinker. Similarly, the Ardbeg 1974 23 year old by Signatory for £360 was also something of a steal.

Looking further down the sale there is the usual mix of solid consistency, some bewildering results – I still don’t get why people are paying £280 for a litre of 1990s Scapa 10-year-old – and a tiny smattering of bargains. A Glenlochy 1980 27 year old by Part Des Anges looks good at £270 and a rare Laphroaig 10-year-old bottled for Japan around 1990 also looks good at £245.

Largely though, scrolling from around the £300 – £80 level of the sale, you’re mostly reminded of just how much has changed on the secondary market over the past two years. Bottles like litres of old 15-year-old Glendronach. The kind of thing you used to be able to pick up for £40-60 for so long, now trading at £130. While at the same time you can still get bottles like Tormore 1983 28 year old by the SMWS for £135. It’s a funny old whisky world. Thankfully it’s still also a lot of fun!

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