Drams Under the Hammer: December 2023

Drams Under the Hammer: December 2023

What to look for in the auction world this month

Auction News | 01 Dec 2023

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This month’s Drams Under the Hammer looks back at the record-breaking sale of The Macallan 1926 and looks ahead to the auction of over 300 bottles of Ardbeg, including expressions from pre-1974.


What you missed…


The Macallan 1926 sets record

As reported earlier in the month by Whisky Magazine, a bottle of The Macallan 1926 featuring an incredibly rare Valerio Adami label has set a new record for the most expensive bottle of any spirit or wine sold at auction.


The 1926 Valerio Adami sold with Sotheby’s for £2,187,500 (US$2,714,250), almost three times the pre-sale low estimate.


Just 40 bottles of The Macallan 1926 were bottled in 1986 and their rarity has seen some remarkable prices at auction and the record broken three times in 2018 and 2019 alone by three different variations: Sir Peter Blake, Michael Dillion and Fine & Rare.


New record for Japanese whisky collection

Another record was broken earlier this month: a new auction record for a collection of Japanese whisky.


The collection was predominantly made up of single cask releases from Karuizawa Distillery, headlined by a bottle of Karuizawa 52 Year Old, one of only 41 bottles and the oldest to ever be released by the distillery. This particular expression sold for £300,000 (US$2,216,892). Also included in the collection were in excess of 150 bottles from the distillery alongside rare whiskies from The Yamazaki, Kakushu, Yoichi and Hanyu distilleries.


In total, Kodawari | The Greatest Japanese Whisky Collection brought an overall of £1,784,937 (US$2,216,892).


Coming up…


Incredible Ardbeg Selection

This month, Whisky Auctioneer has over 300 bottles of Ardbeg on offer, many rarely seen or appearing for the first time. With the pre-1974 bottles particularly sought-after, from back when the distillery still completed their own malting, this month offers plenty to choose from. The standout bottle is the Ardbeg Special Liqueur D&J MacEwen 1950s, an incredibly old Ardbeg offering a unique insight to the distillery in eras gone by. Previously braking the record of most expensive bottle of Ardbeg ever sold, the Ardbeg 1974 Single Bourbon Cask #2742also returns to the auction house, one of only 36 bottles. Another highly collectible bottle is the Ardbeg 10 Year Old Cadenhead's for Scoma 1980s , specially bottled to mark the fifth anniversary of the well-regarded Scoma importer of Germany. Finally, a great collection of nearly 100 single cask Ardbegs also appears, offering a great chance to explore geographically-restricted single cask releases all in one place.


40+ Year Old Single Malts

Over 100 single malts aged for an incredible forty years or more appear in Whisky Auctioneer’s November auction. Dating back to as far as the 1930s, these whiskies have both enjoyed extremely long periods of time in the cask as well having been made in a completely different era of distillation practises and techniques.  Some of the most collectible distilleries in Scotland are represented, with the Glendronach 1968 Recherche 44 Year Old, Dalmore 1966 Constellation 45 Year Old Cask #7, Balvenie 1937 50 Year Old Pure Malt and Highland Park 1958 40 Year Old 75cl all appearing.



A somewhat overlooked distillery today, these 1970s and 80s releases from Tamnavulin represent some of the most prized bottles in the distillery’s history. Built in the mid-1960s primarily to focus on blending, Tamnavulin is a relatively young distillery that has become better known in general since their 2016, 50th anniversary single malt relaunch in the UK. However, they previously enjoyed success in Italy, thanks in part to their Italian agent, the much-celebrated Moon Import. Their partnership resulted in some of the best quality single malt the distillery has ever releases. Included in Whisky Auctioneer’s November auction is the Tamnavulin 20 Year Old Sherry Wood / Moon Import, a bottle which whisky writer and owner of the Auld Alliance bar, Emmanuel Dron, describes as "maybe the best Tamnavulin every bottled."

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