Auction News: Guardians of History

Auction News: Guardians of History

Whisky Auctioneer’s expert shares his thoughts on March 2022

Auction News | 27 Mar 2022 | By Joe Wilson

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It feels like only yesterday that we were marvelling at Gordon & MacPhail’s Glenlivet Generations as the world’s oldest single malt Scotch. Indeed, it has not taken long for the baton to be handed back to The Macallan distillery, in the two companies’ seemingly regular exchange of the accolade of late. As it stands, 81 years is the current record, set last month by the announcement of The Macallan’s ‘The Reach’ decanter.

Such monumental releases are a time for great reflection. At 81 years of age, this whisky is older than many distilleries and has outlasted many more. While it is easy to celebrate the impressive cask and warehousing that have preserved such a precious malt, something can only be bottled if there is someone left to do so, so it is equally important that we remember those who, knowingly or otherwise, were the guardians of history.

In terms of The Macallan, there is one company in Italy whose role cannot be underplayed – that of the importer, Fratelli Rinaldi, whose portfolio is well-represented in our March auction. The company was established in Bologna in 1957 and, early on, championed The Macallan’s single malt when few others did – including the distillery itself, which preferred to license its brand to Elgin-based blender and bottler Campbell, Hope & King. From the early 1960s until 1980, Campbell, Hope & King bottled an 8 and a 12-year-old expression, as well as a series of seminal and sought-after vintages, the majority of which were imported to Italy by Rinaldi. Examples of each from 1950 onwards are available in this month’s Whisky Auctioneer sale.
The Macallan Red Ribbons Rinaldi

With the tide of popularity turning in favour of single malt Scotch, The Macallan assumed responsibility for bottling its own brand in 1980, quickly debuting its premium red ribbon-adorned vintages, the brainchild of then-chairman Allan Shiach. Although the brand had by then acquired global distribution, Rinaldi was not forgotten and received an allocation of each bottling, including a 25th-anniversary Rinaldi exclusive distilled in the company’s founding year. Alongside the others, the anniversary edition is available in our March auction.

In 1983, Fratelli Rinaldi was purchased by the Buton Group and the Italian contract for The Macallan changed hands to Giovinetti & Figli the following year. Rinaldi’s story does not begin and end with one distillery, however. The company was also the distributor for Aberlour, importing some of the distillery's legendary vintage 8-year-olds in the early 1970s, and it acquired the Bruichladdich contract from Moon Import in the 1980s, notably shipping the second of the iconic Riserva bottlings for Luigi Veronelli.
Bruichladdich 1967 Riserva Veronelli

Known as Rinaldi 1957 these days, the company continues to represent Speyside in Italy as the agents for Glenfarclas and Tomintoul. Nevertheless, in whisky circles, its legacy and name will always be synonymous with The Macallan. The elaborate cradle of hands presented with The Macallan’s new 81-year-old expression, ‘The Reach,’ is intended to evoke “the many hands that brought this whisky to life” – there are few whose fingerprints are etched more indelibly on the distillery’s history than those of Fratelli Rinaldi.

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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