Sotheby’s revels in ‘historic’ £7.6m whisky sale

Sotheby’s first single-owner whisky collection sale led to a £7.6 million (US$9.8m) haul when it was offered in London yesterday, including a new world record for a bottle of single malt, which the auctioneer hailed as, “an historic moment for the spirits market”.

As reported yesterday (24 October), the standout from the auction was the £1.5m (US$1.9m) paid for a single bottle of 1926 The Macallan – dubbed the “Holy Grail” of whiskies by the auctioneer.

It is the highest value sale of wines or spirits that Sotheby’s has ever held. All 460 bottles were sold in what the chairman of Sotheby’s Wine, Jamie Ritchie, called an “electric atmosphere”.

He continued: “This sale marks an historic moment for the spirits market, with new benchmark prices and a fresh approach to selling whisky. We are delighted that our spirits specialist Jonny Fowle, can celebrate such a ground-breaking first sale and we look forward to growing our spirits business.”

Fowle himself added: “This fantastic result is testament to the quality of the collection. It was remarkable to see so many iconic bottles break records – homage to the importance of distilleries such as Bowmore, Brora, Springbank and, of course, The Macallan. The electricity in the auction room was palpable. There were cheers when the hammer fell on the Macallan Fine and Rare 1926, in one has to be one of the most exciting moments in the history of whisky sales. The final hammer dropped just in time for our friends at RM Sotheby’s to start their sale of collectible motor cars. Our clients were delighted to share their enjoyment and passion for both cars and whisky in the same space.”

Other highlights from the sale included:

  • 178 bottles from The Macallan’s ‘Fine and Rare’ series from 1926-1991 sold for a combined £5.1m (US$6.6m) – including the aforementioned £1.5m for the 1926.
  • Two complete collections of The Macallan in Lalique ‘Six Pillars Collection’ achieved £665,500 (US$858,984) and £629,200 (US$812,046).
  • A bottle of Springbank 50 year-old 1919 sold for £266,200 (US$343,558).
  • A bottle of the Brora Limited Edition 40 year-old went for £54,450 (US$70,273).
  • Bottle #1 of Bowmore’s ‘Crashing Waves’ 54 year-old was snapped up for £363,000 (US$468,488).
  • The Dalmore ‘Eos’ 59 year-old, one of just 20 bottles, went for £99,220 (US$128,053).
  • Nine casks of single malts including a Highland Park First Fill Oloroso Sherry Cask sold for a combined £72,600 (US$93,698).

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