Auction News: The Essence of Exclusivity

Auction News: The Essence of Exclusivity

Whiskies as rare as the first-ever bottling by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, numbered 1.1, and Samaroli bottlings for Osteria Apostoli are at the centre of Joe Wilson's latest column, which coincides with Whisky Auctioneer's October sale.
Joe Wilson

01 November 2022

When considering the collectability of a bottle of whisky, one of the most valuable assets it can hold is a claim to some form of exclusivity. This idea is everywhere in the industry today, with special bottles selected for certain markets or by various bars, retailers or general enthusiasts. Part of the appeal of these bottles is, naturally, in the pursuit of an item in short supply. However, history shows us that the reward for success in this endeavour can be substantial, embellishing a collection with some of the rarest and most sought-after whiskies ever produced.

Examples of such bottles are a quartet of single malts bottled by the great Silvano Samaroli for Osteria Apostoli, a restaurant formerly in Milan. Bottled in 1984, they were mostly consumed on the premises or squirrelled away by shrewd collectors. The result is that they are seldom seen, if seen at all, on the secondary market — as is the case of the Mortlach or, until now, the Bowmore, which we are delighted to include an example of in our October 2022 Auction. A single sherry cask from the same vintage as the distillery’s famous Black Bowmore releases, this is its first appearance at auction and forms a spectacular trio in our sale alongside its sibling bottlings of Laphroaig and Macallan.

A trio of Samaroli bottlings for Osteria Apostoli.

The practice of obtaining exclusive releases from distillers and bottlers has some of its deepest roots in Italy, and the Osteria Apostoli single casks are part of a historic lineage of such whiskies. One of the foremost protagonists of this story is Edoardo Giaccone, who was among the first of the nation’s bar owners to import specially bottled whiskies for his customers. The most recognisable of these are the original Connoisseurs Choice bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail, however, the Elgin-based bottler also provided him with some spectacular whiskies from Macallan and Glenfarclas. Further highlights in this month’s auction are a pair of hugely rare single malts from the latter, bottled in the 1970s at 15 and 21 Years Old.

Spectacularly rare bottlings of Glenfarclas in Whisky Auctioneer"s October sale.

Glenfarclas is a distillery that’s strongly associated with one of Scotland’s most important whisky institutions: the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Founded in 1983, the SMWS went even further in its pursuit of exclusive single casks for its members by buying the barrels and bottling them. Famed for its unique use of coded labels, release 1.1 debuted in August of its founding year and is not only now one of the rarest Glenfarclas ever bottled, but one of the most culturally and historically significant whiskies of all time. It makes its first appearance at Whisky Auctioneer in our October sale.

Far from some transient label, what makes these whiskies so collectable is that exclusivity is permanent yet the nature of it both changes and intensifies over time. As these bottles pass from bars and retailers into private hands, their often-small numbers dwindle and their availability enters different channels and diminishes further. At this stage, many of these bottles become legendary, and it is one of the enduring joys of working at Whisky Auctioneer that decades of whispers, stories and discussion can finally be remarried with the bottles themselves and shared, exclusively, with you.

This article is sponsored by Whisky Auctioneer and is created in partnership with the team at Whisky Magazine. This sponsorship does not influence Whisky Magazine's coverage of auctions and Whisky Auctioneer do not have input on editorial decisions.

About Whisky Auctioneer

Whisky Auctioneer is one of the global market leaders and trusted authorities on the buying and selling of whisky and spirits at auction. Founded in 2013 and located in Perth, Whisky Auctioneer utilises its expertise and knowledge combined with its auction platform, to increase interest and passion in the whisky and spirits community.

Whisky Auctioneer endeavours to make the market more accessible for buyers and sellers of any background and geography. Its monthly global auctions feature some of the most comprehensive selections of old, rare and collectible whiskies and spirits available online.

Whisky Auctioneer became the first online auction house to sell a million-pound bottle and outperformed the nearest traditional auction house by 200 per cent in value from spirits sales in 2020, showcasing the move that whisky collectors, investors and drinkers have already made online and firmly establishing their leading position within the modern secondary whisky market.

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