Auction news: From Whisky Loch to wanted lots

Auction news: From Whisky Loch to wanted lots

Whisky Auctioneer’s expert offers his thoughts on February

Auction News | 25 Feb 2022 | By Joe Wilson

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These days, every passing month almost inevitably brings yet another debut release from a new distillery. This February, it was the turn of Lochlea Distillery in Ayrshire and Wire Works single malt from Derbyshire’s White Peak Distillery. The rate at which inaugural bottlings have been appearing over the last couple of years is a true testament to how far the whisky industry has come from the dark days of the “Whisky Loch” of the early 1980s. With first releases due, in their own time, from the likes of Aberargie and Harris – to name only a few – this is a phenomenon that is not going away any time soon. What is surprising, however, is that certain firsts for the industry are still coming from distilleries that are, in some cases, over 100 years old.

Our February auction, which begins today, exemplifies this in the first single cask releases from Chivas Brothers’ Secret Speyside Collection. When it was launched in 2019, the series expanded upon the limited scope of Chivas Brothers’ existing Longmorn and Glen Keith labels while introducing a new one for Caperdonich, its first since the 1970s, and Braes of Glenlivet, its first ever. While Longmorn and Glen Keith single malts have been marketed for several decades, in the case of all four distilleries, these are the first ever official single cask releases to be bottled with their own unique branding. The collection comprises ten casks, and we are delighted to have partnered with Chivas Brothers this month to offer the first ever, exclusive opportunity to acquire the full set.
Chivas Brothers' Secret Speyside Collection

Such widespread embracing of its portfolio by a distiller has not been seen since the launch of the Rare Malts Selection in 1995. The brand was the brainchild of Mike Collings at United Distillers, which was seeking a solution to market the swathes of maturing stocks in its warehouses, many from closed distilleries and almost all unfamiliar to the ordinary drinker of the day. The debut batch of releases featured a number of landmark bottlings, including Brora from the sought-after 1972 vintage, an 18-year-old Millburn, and some incredibly rare Glenlochy. Though each was historic in its own right, the Broras were the first official releases to be labelled under that name, and the Millburn and Glenlochy were the first ever official bottlings from those distilleries. In the case of the latter, the handful turned out in 1995 were also the last. All of these and more are available to explore in our February auction.

While the Rare Malts Selection was, at the time, the solution to a problem caused by an era of overproduction, declining sales and distillery closures, it is now rightly viewed as an incredible celebration of single malt Scotch heritage. The stark contrast with the impetus for the Secret Speyside releases could not be more clear, set as the latter were against a backdrop of growth and excitement in the industry. The two collections form perfect bookends in charting the rise of single malt over the last three decades. This is just one of many stories of which, whether you are buying, selling or simply exploring, our auctions are intended to make you another important part.
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