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The price is right

Jonny McCormick reports on the Spring whisky auctions, some spectacular Macallan prices and why Bruichladdich is on the up
Each time you sell a bottle of whisky at auction is like another throw of the dice.Where to sell is all important.Online auction sites can reach a wide audience but buyers have to rely on a photograph and provenance has to be taken on trust. This year, whilst specific bottle prices are similar, the hammer prices of 8.1% of Bonham's WMI Whisky Magazine Index (WMI) eligible bottles have made £500 or more, compared with 2.5% at McTear's as they attract slightly different markets. Catalogue position can matter, as too early a listing and bidders may hold back, but equally the number of bidders and their resources can wane by the day's end. A surfeit of lots from the same distillery or identical bottlings could cut the demand for your sale. Finally, choosing to sell as a single lot or with a couple of AUCTION WATCH The 2010 sales kicked off with McTear's Winter Rare Whisky Sale in early February with attention focussed on a wax sealed half bottle of Springbank distilled in 1900, drawn on the 14th December 1927. It made a tidy £2,200.Overall, the 507 lot sale achieved over more than £73,000, with 83% per cent of lots sold. Highest prices bought the Bowmore 1964 35 year old (£2,800), Macallan 1938 (£1,550) and Laphroaig 1960 (£950).There was plenty of Ardbeg on offer with the Corryvreckan Committee Reserve achieving £160 a bottle, a Young Uigeadail Committee Reserve brought £210 although Lord of the Isles failed to break the £200 mark.The first auction house sale of Kilchoman made an impressive £140 for a lot comprising the Inaugural Release and the new spirit miniatures set. Diageo Rare Malts releases continued to be popular; Glenury Royal 28 year old distilled 1970, bottled 1998 (£460), Rosebank 19 year old, distilled 1979, bottled 1998 (£500). However, the WMI slipped three points by March, but then saw a healthy growth when the Bonham's 362 lot whisky sale took £110,000 with 90% per cent of lots selling.The Macallan continued to reign supreme with eight bottles topping four figures (exclusive of premiums and tax), most notably the Lalique Crystal decanters; the 50 year old left its £3,600-4,000 estimate in its wake and went on to make £7,500, whilst the 55 year old achieved £5,400.The other headline makers were the Glenfiddich Over 50 year old (£5,900), Bowmore 35 year old 1964 (£2,800), Macallan Select Reserve 52 year old 1946 (£2,000). Hazelwood bottlings from Kininvie distillery are a scarce but welcome sight at auction these days and the Centennial Reserve 1991 made £650. A substantial sale of Bruichladdich distillery bottlings from Blacker, Redder and Golder Still to the Links series helped propel the distillery up the WMI rankings though not all the lots lit up the room and Bruichladdich's average hammer price fell by more than 20% per cent. St Magdalene made a new entry to the WMI 25 top collectable brands at the expense of Glengoyne but with the year on year WMI value up 154%, roll on the summer auctions!FORTHCOMING AUCTION DATES
5th May 2010 at 10.30am McTears, Glasgow
Tel +44 (0) 141 810 2880
16th June 2010 at 11am.Bonhams, Edinburgh Tel +44 (0) 131 225 2266

Forthcoming auctions