Isabel Graham-Yooll, auction director at Whisky.Auction, selects three drams – exclusively for Whisky Magazine – to look out for in the current auction, live until Tuesday, 9 November.
A large collection built up in 1970s Kent, England
“While record-breakingly expensive bottles do capture the headlines, in truth, the greater delight for whisky auctioneers is to discover that magical collection untouched by time. In this month’s auction, we have just that …
“For 50 years, the owner of this collection displayed it in the family’s home bar. Then, in 2021 the collection was dismantled to be sold at auction. Many of the bottles have stickers that show the original price paid, along with the month and year of purchase.
“There is a wonderful innocence about this collection. It might seem odd, but what I love about it is that it was not built up by a whisky enthusiast, yet there are so many lovely bottles in there. There was no thought given to investment potential, nor reviews and scores, yet some of the bottles have become so sought after that they are now eye-wateringly valuable.
“Naturally, not all the bottles have used their time to become classics, and some are downright peculiar. On the other hand, there are also many great blends – some from the 1980s ‘whisky loch’, when so many great whiskies were being dumped into standard blends – yet they remain affordably drinkable to this day.”
Glen Grant 10 Years Old 100 Proof Thistle Stencil Bottled 1970s - Gordon & MacPhail
"Glen Grant 10 Years Old 100 Proof does crop up occasionally at auction, but this edition features a super-rare stencilled thistle design. This is definitely one to watch. Expect there to be plenty of fierce competition."
Ardbeg 10 Years Old - bottled in the 1970s
"This is a classic bottle of Ardbeg 10 Years Old, pre distillery closure, pre LVMH, pre clever packaging. It was distilled in the 1960s and simply presented in a clear glass bottle. This old-style Ardbeg is so notably different to today’s 10-year-old release that comparison is almost irrelevant. This one has an amazingly rich mouthfeel, with layers and layers of smoky, medicinal, tar-y peat. The complexity comes via the subdued old fruits and ever-so-subtle wood."
Haig's Dimple Bottled 1970s
"Old blends such as this bottle of Haig's Dimple can be so rewarding. The prices at auction never break the bank, yet the quality of the whisky inside the bottle is incomparable to today’s equivalents. If I were to generalise a little – what they all have in common is a great richness and a fuller mouthfeel."
"4,000 miniatures of whisky on the wall, 4,000 miniatures of whisky..."
A collection of 4,000 whisky miniatures, amassed over three decades and previously stored in keen collector Brian Marshall’s double garage in Kettering along with a model railway collection, will go to auction with Gildings Auctioneers in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, in two stages: the first closes on 14 November, the second will run 26 November to 12 December.
Marshall’s collection comprises almost exclusively Scotch whisky, although it has been sourced from as far afield as America, Iraq, Uruguay and Australia. It is predicted to make up £35,000 at auction.
“A friend from work at Kettering Crematorium who was collecting full-sized bottles suggested I collect miniatures and it started from there,” Marshall explains. “I don’t even like the stuff, but it took on a life of its own because I started planning my holidays in Scotland around it. There was one particular shop in Aviemore where I got to know the man who ran it and would stay and chat for two or three hours at a time.”
Standout lots in part one of the auction, which is currently live, include presentation packs issued by Signatory Vintage of 1966 vintage whiskies, such as Laphroaig, Ardbeg and The Macallan. There is also an extensive collection of The Whisky Connoisseur series and specialist bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail and Wm Cadenheads.
Part two includes Brian’s unique collection of 120 bottlings of Ballantine’s whisky – each with a different label from around the globe and across the decades. There are also some treasures from the great powerhouses in whisky, such as a miniature bottle of The Macallan 1961 commemorating Private Eye magazine’s 35th anniversary, estimated at £200-£300, and a suite of bottlings from the Mini Bottle Club UK, of which Marshall was a long-standing member. And no whisky auction this close to Christmas would be complete without a set of Bell’s Christmas decanters.
Not only is the auction unusual in scale, the fact that it is entirely comprised of miniatures means it will provide whisky lovers with a rare opportunity to sample whisky that might otherwise be unattainable.
Catalogue of ultra-rare whisky lots to be revealed on Monday
Earlier this summer, The Distillers’ Charity and Sotheby’s announced a six-year partnership to host three biennial auctions of unique Scotch whiskies and experiences, donated by companies across the Scottish whisky industry, from Aberargie to Tomatin. The first ‘The Distillers One of One’ auction, the proceeds of which will support disadvantaged young people in Scotland, will take place near Edinburgh on 3 December this year.
The lots, ranging in estimate from £1,500 to £500,0000, are all offered without reserve. The highest-valued lot of the auction, with an estimate of £350,000–£500,000, is a Talisker Cask of Distinction 1978. The first ever Cask of Distinction to be offered at auction, it is paired with a cask-end that has been turned into an original work of art by Turner Prize nominee Callum Innes.
The auction catalogue will go live here on Wednesday, 10 November – save the date!
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Sotheby's breaks records
Several auction records were broken at Sotheby's last month. On 8 October in Hong Kong, the only complete collection of The Dalmore Decades direct from the distillery, The Dalmore Decades No. 6 Collection – a one-of-a-kind set of six vintage single malts spanning 1951 to 2000 – sold for HK$8,750,000/US$1,124,000/£830,000, setting a new auction record for The Dalmore. The price achieved also represents the highest value for a whisky lot sold at Sotheby’s so far this year, and the most valuable whisky lot ever sold by Sotheby’s in Asia.
A day later, on 9 October, Sotheby’s three-day sales series of wines and spirits in Hong Kong concluded with an outstanding total of HK$196 million/US$25 million, far surpassing the combined pre-sale estimate of HK$133-199 million/US$17-26 million. This contributes to a record-breaking year for Sotheby’s Wine in Asia, bringing the year-to-date total to HK$515 million/US$66 million, and, worldwide, to HK$700 million/US$90 million.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist, commented, “Almost one third of the buyers in our spirits sale were new to Sotheby’s, a reflection of how whisky collecting is attracting an ever broader range of collectors... This bodes well for our inaugural Distillers auction in Edinburgh this December, comprising unique lots donated by distilleries and brands in Scotland.”
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.
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