The year also brought two major record-breaking sales for the auctioneer, indicating a greater interest in whisky among collectors – something we knew already but it really does draw a line under things for this year.
In fact the company’s first live auction dedicated to spirits took the record total and threw it out of the nearest window, with the Ultimate Whisky Collection hitting $10 million under the hammer in London; the highest total for any whisky collection offered at auction.
Not happy with that the auction house went on to claim another world record when a bottle of The Macallan Fine & Rare 60-Year-Old 1926 sold for $1.9 million; making it the record for any bottle of wine or spirit at auction.
The record-breaking sale occurred on the heels of the appointment of Sotheby’s first-ever dedicated Spirits specialist, Jonny Fowle, in May 2019 (see WM164 for Jonny’s desert island whisky choices).
Based in London, Fowle leads Sotheby’s expansion into the whisky and spirits markets, pursuing single-cellar opportunities and direct consignments of high value bottles and casks, while building upon its online-only spirits offerings.
Jamie Ritchie, chairman, Sotheby’s Wine, commented: “2019 has been another record-setting year for Sotheby’s Wine. We achieved our highest-ever annual total for both auction and retail, and continued to innovate, demonstrated by: the presentation of our auction catalogues as well as online-only sales; the launch of both our spirits business and the Sotheby’s Own Label Collection. 2020 will be our 50th anniversary year and will celebrate the evolution of our wine business since our first sale in Glasgow in 1970.”