Drams Under the Hammer: May 2022

Drams Under the Hammer: May 2022

What to watch in the auction world this month

Auction News | 06 May 2022 | By Bradley Weir

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The world of whisky auctioning has been buzzing for the last few weeks, not least of all because of a world record sale which has captured the attention of even the most disinterested in whisky.

Coming Up..

The world's tallest bottle of whisky (...ever)

The top of the 5"11 Intrepid

The world’s tallest bottle of whisky is set to go on sale at Edinburgh-Lyon next month. At a giant 5”11, the amount of liquid contained in the bottle is believed to be 311 litres. The Macallan already broke a world record, and here it appears to be happening again.

The 32-year-old Scotch malt titled The Intrepid, is a celebration of 11 international explorers, with their faces and names plastered on the packaging of the front of the bottle. With a strength of 43% and its age, it’s sure to be a delight to drink, however it’s extremely likely that a bottle this size will be preserved, rather than poured – unless there’s a 5”5 whisky glass available somewhere.

Admirably, 25% of the final sale will be donated to Marie Curie. The auction takes place on May 25, with many expecting there to be a very large interest. It’s the second Guinness world record The Macallan has made headlines for in the month, but again, more on that later.

Auction leader Colin Fraser commented on the bottle: “I’m sure there will be significant global interest in the auction of The Intrepid, a unique collection spearheaded by the record-breaking bottling standing at an incredible 5ft 11ins tall. Bidders will have the chance to buy a piece of Scotch whisky history. They will become the owners of an exclusive 32-year-old single-malt Scotch from what is widely regarded as one of the world’s best distilleries, The Macallan.”

Glenfiddich auctions rare whisky, raising money for Ukraine

Glenfiddich limited edition 2022

At the time of writing this, there are a handful of days left on these incredibly generous auctions on Whisky Auctioneer. Following on from the Spirit of Speyside Festival, Glenfiddich have released an exclusive limited edition whisky, with all proceeds donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

The auctions can be found by following this link, with the closing date for these being May 10th. There are 460 bottles available, bottled at cask strength and with an ABV of 60%. For those interested in its qualities before bidding, the producer has described it as having a zesty fruitness scent, notes of crystallised ginger, creamy rice pudding and toasted pecans on the mouth, followed by a sumptuous long-lasting sweet finish.

Glennfiddich’s malt master Brian Kinsman said the following on the creation of this special edition: “This is a truly unique micro vatting of three hand crafted barrels coopered by Ian MacDonald, former Head Cooper at Glenfiddich. In 2009, Ian took it upon himself to experiment with building a barrel using a variety of oak types – virgin American oak, ex bourbon oak and traditional refill American oak. His aim was to see how the casks would mature and how each type of oak would contribute to the final flavour. In 2022 we are delighted to reveal the results with a one-off release of 460 bottles from these very special casks.”

Whisky Auctioneer's American Sale

Bottle for auction as part of Whisky Auctioneer"s American Sale

From May 13th to May 23rd, Whisky Auctioneer are hosting an American sale, with a wide variety of ryes and bourbons. A few of the select highlights include:

    Van Winkle 1975 Special Reserve 19 Year Old for Corti Brothers

    Pappy Van Winkle 1984 23 Year Old / Kentucky Bourbon Society

    Willett Family Eastate 1984 Single Barrel 24 Year Old Bourbon #637

The Van Winkle 1975 is described as exceptionally rare, with the bottle selected and bottled for the Corti Brothers of Sacramento way back in 1994. The available Pappy Van Winkle (Stitzel-Weller era) is a private selection of the oldest permanent release in the Van Winkle range, having never been offered at an online auction before.

As for the Willett Family Estate 1984, there are over 25 private barrels picked by the family estate available at auction, but this is perhaps the most iconic and legendary in reputation due to its age.

Bonham's Fine & Rare Wines and Whisky Auction, Hong Kong
On May 20 in Hong Kong, Bonhams will be hosting a fine & rare wines whisky auction selling off some of Aaron Chan’s prestigious Scotch collection.

The story of Chan's love of whisky is a fascinating one. His journey begun in 2007, having tried some of the finest Japanese whisky, and took a liking to it with the more that was tasted. From there, after three years, Chan finally had his first try of Scotch whisky, and it was love at first taste. While not selling his entire collection - not close - there is still an incredible, mouth-watering selection for any collector to bid on.

The highlights of what’s for sale from a variety of owners - Chan among them - include a 72 years old Glen Grant, a 50 years old Yamazaki and a Laphroaig Osteria-Apolstoli from 1970.

What you missed…

World Record sale

A sample of The Macallan 1988

A forgotten bottle of The Macallan 1988 – which lay in lonesome for three decades – has broken the world record for most expensive cast of whisky ever sold at auction. An eye-watering $1.295m is the magic total, won by a private US-based individual, with claims that individuals from countries all over the world were bidding for this piece of history.

The 33-year-old whisky smashed the previous world record for a cask sold at auction, which was held by Bonhams at a total of $572,000 – also a Macallan’s dram. The auction closed on the evening of April 24th and has been creating shockwaves in the whisky industry ever since.

The cask was originally filled on 5 May 1988 and held in bond at the Macallan distillery for its entire age. Despite The Whisky Hammer’s April auction holding over 2,000 lots, nothing captured the attention of the whisky world (and even wider press) quite like this Macallan cask.

Co-Founder and Managing Director of Whisky Hammer Daniel Milne said the following on the world record sale: “When this cask was listed in our auction, we knew it had the potential to make history. To come across a cask of this age, quality and size is extraordinary, enhanced by the fact the liquid was distilled at The Macallan which is reflected in the global attention the cask has attracted. It’s been incredibly exciting for everyone at Whisky Hammer to have represented what has become the most expensive cask ever to be sold at auction.”

This wasn’t the only rare Macallan bottle sold at auction for big bucks this month…

1 in 15 bottle of The Macallan sells for £180,000

1957 bottle of The Macallan

While not quite the dizzy heights of a 1 million plus sale, a rare 1957 Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, one of just 15 bottles produced by The Macallan, has sold for a rather impressive £180,000.

The exclusive whisky matured in sherry wood for 15 years before first being bottled in 1972 for the first time. A small total were further re-bottled by hand in 2009 as part of The Macallan’s Fine & Rare collection. It remains to be seen whether any more of these bottles will ever appear at auction, so the winning bidder will undoubtedly be delighted to get their hands on such an illustrious bottle.

Whisky.Auction auction director Isabel Graham-Yooll said the following on the extraordinary value: “Understandably, to some it might seem like a lot to spend on a bottle, but the longevity of whisky is open ended, you can keep it forever. As whisky enthusiasts we place immense value on its history, and the opportunity it provides to experience history in a unique and remarkable way. I can’t help think how much the world has changed since this whisky was distilled, and yet the liquid has remained unaltered.”

Big changes at Sotheby's
Sotheby’s – the largest wine and spirits auction house online – has seen a significant change behind the scenes. Jamie Ritchie has been appointed the new Worldwide Chairman of the company, while Benoit Vialle has begun settling into life as the new Global Head of Sotheby’s. Ritchie has over thirty years with the company and will remain the face of Sotheby’s wine, while Vialle has come over from Vivino, bringing along expertise at the intersection of wine and technology. A familiar name associated with the company, Jonny Fowle, has been given a new role as Head of Whisky & Spirits for North America and EMEA.

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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