Whisky Auctions in 2023: A Market Review

With the sale of the ‘perfect collection’ at Whisky Auctioneer, “perfection” is no longer just a theoretical concept. This collection, which Richard Goodings painstakingly put together over twenty years, is often regarded as the pinnacle of what a whisky connoisseur can accomplish. With a final tally of over £6.7 million, the auction broke the previous record for private collections.

  • Macallan 60-Year-Old, Fine & Rare, Bottled in 1926: This bottle set a new record when it sold for £1 million at an online auction, well-exceeding expectations. This Macallan is a hallmark of excellence in the whisky industry, thanks to its rarity and meticulous production.
  • 60-Year-Old Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami: This rare Macallan bottle fetched £825,000 at auction. The liquid itself possesses a mystique that has grabbed the admiration of collectors, and it is adorned with artwork by Italian artist Valerio Adami.
  • The Dallas Dhu Private Cask 1964: This one-of-a-kind bottle, which sold for £15,500, contains a piece of history that cannot be replicated. When it comes to age and complexity, the 1921 Cask of Dallas Dhu is unrivaled.
  • At £16,500, the Balvenie 1961 Vintage Cask: This is a statement of quality from the illustrious distillery, showcasing the brilliance that comes with time and diligent aging.
  • Glenfiddich 1937 Rare Collection: This Glenfiddich masterpiece, aged 64 years, is among the rarest in the world. The 1937 Rare Collection is recognized for its unparalleled richness, boasting extraordinary complexity. With only a handful of bottles ever produced, it remains a symbol of Glenfiddich’s relentless pursuit of perfection.
  • Yamazaki 50-Year-Old: Representing the epitome of Japanese craftsmanship, the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old stands as an emblem of excellence in the world of whisky. Its vibrant yet elegant taste profile, infused with an extensive aging process in Mizunara oak casks, has elevated it to a legendary status among collectors. Its rarity has not only made it an exclusive addition to private collections but also a high-demand item at auctions.
  • Port Ellen 40-Year-Old: Port Ellen, a silent distillery from Islay, has created a legacy through its limited releases, and the 40-Year-Old is no exception. Known for its smoky essence and profound depth, this whisky offers a sensory experience that captivates both the novice and the connoisseur. Its distinct character, combined with its scarcity, has made it a treasured find for private collectors.
  • Highland Park 50-Year-Old: This exceptionally aged bottle from Highland Park carries with it a half-century of tradition and meticulous craftsmanship. Its marriage of flavors, ranging from rich fruitiness to subtle smokiness, showcases the versatility and creativity of Highland Park’s distillers. Housed in a beautifully designed decanter, it has become a symbol of luxury and refinement in private collections.
  • Bowmore Black 1964 50-Year-Old: A testament to the mastery of aging and blending, the Bowmore Black 1964 stands as one of Bowmore’s finest creations. Aged for half a century, this whisky’s notes of tropical fruit, dark chocolate, and subtle seaweed express a complexity that is both intriguing and satisfying. The elegant black ceramic bottle further adds to its allure, making it a coveted piece in private collections.

The Successful Scotch Auctions Online

The flourishing online Scotch auctions have become a vibrant hub for experts, collectors, and investors alike. A virtual gavel has replaced the traditional one, but the excitement, the thrill of discovery, and the pursuit of liquid gold remain unchanged. Whisky Auctioneer’s 17 online auctions exemplify this exciting transition. The shift online hasn’t dimmed the allure; rather, it has brought rare and cherished bottles to a broader audience, turning a sophisticated pastime into a global event. Prepare to explore an array of unique finds, from undiscovered gems to legendary expressions, as we take a closer look at the innovative sphere of online Scotch auctions. The whisky business continues to thrive, as seen by Whisky Auctioneer’s 17 online auctions since January, which have raised about £30 million. The most notable features are:

  • The 2006 Release of Bruichladdich: The 2006 vintage and signature Bruichladdich characteristics set this cask, which sold at auction for £26,000 via Whisky Hammer in January, apart.
  • Ledaig – 2009: This whisky, which fetched a staggering £13,000 at auction, exemplifies the Isle of Mull’s extensive whisky history. Due to its rare flavor and age, it is highly prized.
  • 40-Year-Old Dalmore 1966: Intricate in flavor and silky in texture, this Dalmore is a collector’s delight and will fetch £5,600 at The Grand Whisky Auction in January 2021.
  • “Macallan 40 Year Old” from “The Red Collection”: This bottle of Macallan, like so many others at Whisky Hammer, went for a hefty sum. The Red Collection is a showcase of Macallan’s mastery in making whiskies with declared ages.
  • 50-year-old Glenrothes Single Malt: This golden decanter of Glenrothes, a symbol of five decades of skillful distillation and maturation, sold for £39,000 at an exclusive online auction hosted by Bonhams.
  • Jim McEwan’s Private Funds: The Bruichladdich Dramfool Jim McEwan Signature Collection and the Port Charlotte Dramfool Jim McEwan Signature Collection, both of which were released as part of a collaboration between Whisky Auctioneer and Dramfool, sold for £5,778 and £5,600, respectively. The drink and the legend of Jim McEwan are both included in these bottles.
  • Brora 40-Year-Old 200th Anniversary Edition: This rare and limited edition from the renowned Brora Distillery marked its 200th anniversary and was a show-stopper in one of Whisky Auctioneer’s online auctions. With only 1819 bottles ever made, it brings forth a delicate balance of sweet fruit and Brora’s traditional waxy, smoky character, making it highly coveted among connoisseurs.
  • Mortlach 75 Years Old by Gordon & MacPhail: Mortlach’s rich and multifaceted profile shines brightly in this 75-year-old whisky. As one of the oldest whiskies ever bottled, this gem exudes a complexity that tells of its decades of maturation. A truly historic bottle, its sale at Whisky Auctioneer was a defining moment for enthusiasts and collectors alike.
  • Springbank 1919 50-Year-Old: A legendary release from Springbank, this 50-Year-Old offering is renowned for its subtle notes of tropical fruit and oak, intertwined with a soft smokiness. With only 24 bottles produced, its rarity is undisputed, and its presence in the Whisky Auctioneer’s catalog signaled a rare opportunity for aficionados to acquire this extraordinary piece of whisky heritage.
  • Ardbeg 1967 Provenance 30-Year-Old: Ardbeg’s Provenance series is celebrated for capturing the essence of Islay, and this 30-year-old vintage from 1967 is no exception. With an intense peatiness balanced by hints of citrus and spice, it is a remarkable expression of the distillery’s mastery. Its auction by Whisky Auctioneer attracted global attention, resonating with both Ardbeg loyalists and whisky explorers.
  • Glenury Royal 50-Year-Old: Representing a piece of Scotland’s lost distilling history, Glenury Royal’s 50-Year-Old release is a sensory voyage into the past. With the distillery’s closure in 1985, this half-century-old whisky, rich with flavors of dried fruits, honey, and oak, became a symbol of a bygone era. Its sale at Whisky Auctioneer not only attracted collectors but also sparked interest in the intriguing tales of Scotland’s silent distilleries.

Auctions Online: A Growing Trend

Auction houses have moved nearly exclusively to the web platform, following the fashion for virtual living. The above record-breaking sales are evidence that the changeover was successful and that the bids were not hindered by the physical barriers.

Despite the rarity of the “perfect collection,” there is a healthy and growing market for whisky collectors and investors, as seen by the ongoing success of various bottles and casks at auctions. The auction houses are overflowing with rare expressions that embody the essence of history, artistry, and the precise technique of whisky making, from Macallan’s masterpieces to the personal reserves of whisky luminaries.

Whisky auctions are a thriving industry that continues to thrive and develop. One thing is becoming abundantly evident as we observe these astounding numbers: even though the globe has adapted to a new normal, people’s love of whiskies and their desire to collect and invest in them knows no bounds.

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