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Jonny McCormick takes a look at the auction houses.

Whisky Magazine Index | 26 Apr 2013 | Issue 111 | By Jonny McCormick

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Two auction houses have just raised the price buyers pay for their services. When a scuffle of frantic
bidding erupts on a rare bottle of whisky, you need to be able to mentally calculate the final price of your
bids to match the pace of the auctioneer. Auction house specialists tell me they are still surprised by new clients who have failed to read the terms and conditions and expect to bid £100 and pay £100 when the lot is knocked down. You must add buyer's premium plus tax (on that premium, not the whisky) to your total, and online bidders and credit card users can attract additional fees for using that service. Firstly, McTear's, Glasgow announced a rise of two per cent in their premiums to 20 per cent in January. This takes the cost of a £100 bid from £121.60 to £124 including tax on the premium at 20 per cent. Christie's increased their premiums from 15 per cent to 17 per cent which will affect the June whisky auction. No other businesses have followed suit at the time of writing, meaning we are expecting other establishments to charge their 2012 premiums; 25 per cent Bonhams, Edinburgh, 20 per cent Taylor's Auctions, 19 per cent Bonhams, New York and Hong Kong, 17.5 per cent Mulberry Bank Auctions, 17.5 per cent Tennant's Auctioneers, Cluny Auctions 15 per cent. Online only; 20 per cent McTear's Gallery 1842, 10 per cent Scotch Whisky Auctions, 10 per cent Whisky-Online and no auctioneering
costs at Watch
McTear's eased us into the year with an early January auction peppered with classic Glenmorangie releases. They had it all; 30 Years Old Oloroso cask, 1981 Sauternes Finish, Cognac Matured, Claret Wood, Missouri Oak, Truffle Oak and Burr Oak and the Mount Everest bottling. Additionally, they sold a Glenfiddich Vintage Cask Reserve 1961
for £2,400 and the Springbank Millennium Collection rose to £4,200. Their second sale was a treat for Bowmore lovers; Sherriff's Bowmore 70 proof (£1,000), Bowmore 1964 Oloroso Cask (£2,000), Bowmore 1964 Fino Cask (£3,000), Bowmore 1964 Bourbon Cask (£1,900), Bowmore 1957 38 Years Old (£1,400) and Bowmore 1955 40 Years Old(£3,200). An intriguing blended Scotch whisky bottled to commemorate the opening of the John Walker & Sons Hill Street premises in Kilmarnock in 1956 closed at £1,600 Elsewhere, the best deal at Taylor's, Montrose was Kilchoman's Inaugural Release which was selling for £55-65 a bottle for those in the right place at the right time. Bonhams, Edinburgh brought February to a close with a sale bulging with independent bottlings from Cadenheads and SMWS. A pair of Glenury Royal 1966 Cadenhead dumpies sold for £750 and the Kinclaith 1965 made £950. A pair of SMWS Ardbegs distilled in 1974 (33.8 and 33.11) notched up £1,600 and an early pair of Port Ellen 43.2 and 43.3 stormed off with £1,500. It might be time to check if you have got any early SMWS bottlings at the back of your cupboard. A black labelled Ardbeg 25 Years Old 75 proof grabbed £6,500 whilst a white labelled Ardbeg 10 Years Old 80 proof took £950, Black Bowmore First edition broke £3,000, Springbank 50 Years Old £5,500 and a Glenfiddich Stag's Head Decanter was game for £3,000. As eBay rules tighten on alcohol sales, more evidence is emerging about the potential for non-Scotch whiskies at auction. Scotch Whisky Auctions topped
1000 bottles with their 22nd and 23rd auctions and included examples of the 2012 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, a Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13 Years Old (£80) and the English Whisky Company Royal Wedding (£105). Bonhams sold two Coleraine 1959 34
Years Old for £1000 apiece, but the European fascination with Japanese whiskies currently represent the best bet for future investment. Limited edition Suntory releases and Nikka single casks should do well, but Ichiro Malts and Number One Drinks Company
probably satisfy the collectors' needs more with highly collectable series from the closed Hanyu and Karuizawa distilleries. A Noh Karuizawa 1976 Cask 6719 fetched £400 at McTear's, tripling its retail price in three years. No wonder the oldest Karuizawa ever released at 48 Years Old has been a talking point, as Karuizawa 1964 Cask 3603 combines all the qualities of prestige, exclusivity and luxury coupled with a liquid loved by
everyone who tries it. Cost of entry may be steep but the credentials are there for
a classic collectible
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