Crunch Time

Crunch Time

Chasing the top dram
The race is on for the number 1 spot in the WMI. Over the next year, there will be an almighty battle between The Macallan, the champion brand sitting pretty at the top of the WMI, versus Karuizawa, the Japanese contender that is dominating live sales in Hong Kong. The Macallan outsold Karuizawa by a factor of four to one over the past year, so it remains the odds-on favourite to prevail. The Speyside favourite has the advantage of being the largest seller in all markets, whereas Asia is Karuizawa’s only dominant live auction market. Karuizawa remains a hugely popular brand in European online auctions, though vendors have not been consigning them in any noticeable numbers with the UK’s main live auction houses. Zachys took Hong Kong by storm with a January sale that added over a quarter of a million pounds to the WMI. The Macallan and Karuizawa combined accounted for 60% of this value, but spending on The Macallan just squeezed ahead by a few thousand pounds. When the remainder of January’s auctions had been factored in, The Macallan had outperformed Karuizawa for the month. It’s Macallan 1 – Karuizawa 0. In this two horse race, the next showdown will be Bonhams, Hong Kong, and we’ll bring you all the action in the next issue.\r\n\r\n

\r\nAuction Watch

\r\n\r\nFour January whisky auctions helped sweep away the cobwebs and open the account on a fresh year of trading. Taylor’s were first out of the blocks with a good range of drinkable and collectable Scotch whisky. Royal Lochnagar had a good day, with a Rare Malts Selection 1972 55.7% fetching £200.\r\n\r\nMcTear’s entered the fray with a weighty sale that included a decanter of The Macallan 50 Years Old Millennium for £10,500, a bottle of The Macallan 1959 Fine & Rare for £7,000, and The Macallan 1946 Select Reserve for £5,000. A red-capped bottle of black label Talisker 100 proof produced by Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Ltd in 1964 and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail made a tasty £1,200. The Glenrothes received a significant boost with the £2,400 paid for a bottle of Glenrothes-Glenlivet 42 Years Old 70 proof that had been distilled in 1932 and bottled in 1974 by the Highland Distilleries Co Ltd. That propelled them up the rankings to 37th. Weeks later, Sotheby’s closed out their London wine sale with a decanter of The Dalmore 50 Years Old at £6,500, down slightly on last year’s value.\r\n\r\nZachys, Hong Kong sold classic The Macallan labels from Campbell, Hope & King, a vertical of iconic 18 year olds from 1966 to 1986, a Speymalt 1945 and a Red Stripe 1940 which made HK$60,000. The average price of The Macallan fell sharply due to no other reason than the expiration of The Macallan M Constantine sale at Sotheby’s over a year ago. In reply, Karuizawa brought several dozen Noh masks, geishas, samurais, and vintage labels, with the top price coming from the Ocean 1965 21 Years Old bottling which reached HK$75,000. Yet, Karuizawa was not the only Japanese whisky catching the eye of the collectors; there were beautifully crafted Hibiki ceramic decanters and bottles of Taketsuru 35 Years Old and 25 Years Old from Nikka to be had. Hanyu rose five places in the rankings, nudging ahead of Talisker & Rosebank to reach 20th. The Ichiro’s Malt bottlings have risen greatly in value since release, and Zachy’s top Hanyu prices were paid for the Ace of Clubs and the Three of Clubs (HK$22,000 a piece). A multi-bottle lot of thirteen Hanyu bottles from the Card Series sold for an impressive HK$260,000. Acker, Merrall & Condit sold three further Hanyu bottles at the end of their wine sale; I wouldn’t bet against Hanyu eventually breaking into the top ten in 2015. One thing is certain, Hong Kong will continue to set the pace and dictate the winners and losers on the WMI this year.\r\n\r\n

\r\nDid you know?

\r\n\r\nThe sixth edition in the Glenmorangie Private Edition range is named Tùsail and harnesses the flavours of floor malted Maris Otter winter barley. Collectors will have noticed that the annual Private Edition release sells out faster each year and ignites a demand for spare bottles of the earlier editions resulting in an incremental accrual in value. Yet, you can sometimes place winning bids close to the original retail price. A quick check of Scotch Whisky Auctions reveals that online price ranges for the earlier bottlings over the past six months are as follows: Sonnalta PX (£165 – £330), Finealta (£65 – £105), Artein (£75 – £140), Ealanta (£125 – £185), and Companta (£65 – £130). For vendors selling Sonnalta PX and Ealanta, you could say that’s money unnecessarily well made.\r\n
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