Drams Under the Hammer: May 2023

Drams Under the Hammer: May 2023

What to watch in the auction world this month

Auction News | 05 May 2023

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This month's Drams Under the Hammer features the story behind a very rare selection of American Whiskeys and details on the upcoming auction of The Macallan's oldest ever release.

What you missed…

Rare American Whiskey selection sells big at Sotheby’s



A set of five unique prototype bottles created in the mid-1990s, representing some of the rarest American whiskey to be offered at auction, has sold for £150,000.

The bottles were originally produced as prototypes for the world’s first collectable ultra-premium US whisky series, which was to feature closed American distilleries exclusively. The project had received approval for launch, however it was shelved when United Distillers merged with another company, International Distillers & Vintners, to create United Distillers & Vintners. From this point, the project was never revived.

An example of each bottling was bottled twice: one sent to the Stitzel-Weller (SW) distillery for safe keeping and the other to a company HQ in the UK for the European market. It’s believed that the SW distillery bottles were destroyed in a fire, meaning this auctioned off set is the only one in existence.

The five prototype bottles were:
- Old Quaker Indiana Corn Whiskey 21 Year Old Limited Edition
- Stitzel-Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Limited Edition 17 Year Old
- Taylor-Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Limited Edition 17 Year Old
- George T Stagg Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey Limited Edition 16 Year Old
- Buffalo Springs Kentucky Rye Mash Whiskey Limited Edition 15 Year Old

At £150,000, the total sale price exceeded the broad estimate of between £10,000 and £100,000.

Coming Up…

Japanese independent bottlers



Words by Heather Storgaard

Japan's independent bottlers are somewhat of a mystery, with hidden gems waiting to be found. This month, Whisky Auctioneer has an interesting selection of whiskies selected exclusively for the Japanese market from Three Rivers, Whisk-e and Shinanoya of Japan, the supermarket with their own independent bottling venture. With big names including Bowmore and Springbank, as well as blended malts, these releases offer the chance to explore an amazing range of bottles showcasing Japan’s outlook on Scotch.

The Macallan Reach 81 Year Old



Words by Heather Storgaard

The oldest Macallan ever released is available for the first time at Whisky Auctioneer in their April auction. Even within the world of collectible Macallan, this bottle is a standout release that would become the highlight of any collection. Distilled in 1940, during the early stages of the Second World War, this remarkable single malt has been matured in a single sherry-seasoned oak cask for 81 years before bottling in February 2022. One of just 288 hand-blown decanters, the whisky is displayed on a striking bronze plinth crafted by Scottish sculptor, Saskia Robinson.

Bruichladdich 21 Year Old Moon Import / Penny Black



Words by Heather Storgaard

Commemorating the milestone of 500 years of Scotch whisky, the Bruichladdich 21 Year Old Moon Import / Penny Black contains liquid chosen by the legendary Pepi Mongiardino of Moon Import. The first person to import Bruichladdich to Italy, Mongiardino went on to develop a close relationship with the distillery during the 1980s, granting him access to some of the Islay distillery’s best stock from the 1960s and 70s.

Known not just for the quality of liquid but also the artful bottles and labels, Moon Import are a favourite among those interested in independent bottlings. Whisky Auctioneer’s April auction sees a large number of both their imports and own bottlings available, with Bruichladdich clearly a particularly highlight.

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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