Hong Kong’s first significant whisky sale of the year was a love affair with The Macallan. This sale showed this distillery has become the dominant focus for collectors and continues to command the highest prices. The interest in these 40 or so releases including more than a dozen bottles from the 1930s and 1940s ensured buyers bought at prices well in excess of the high estimates. Topically, the original Royal Marriage bottling made HKD20,000 (£1,600) and both The Macallan 1938 and Select Reserve 1946 52 Years Old reached a zenith of HKD38,000 (£3,000). A vertical range of 18 Years Olds from the 1960s and 1970s commanded grown-up prices, most notably HKD16,000 (£1,275) for the 1974 bottling. The independents performed similarly well with a Gordon & MacPhail George & JG Smith Glenlivet 1940 garnering HKD8,500 (£680), a Benriach 1966 42 Years Old Signatory Cask Strength Collection showing strongly with HKD7,000 (£560), and the Glencadam 1977 32 Years Old Douglas Laing Platinum Old & Rare Selection drawing HKD2,800 (£225). To conclude, The Last Drop 1960 made a definitive HKD22,000 (£1,750). In Glasgow, McTear’s held their next niche auction focussing on regional variation with wide selections from just four distilleries. Their idiosyncratic approach is akin to each distillery playing a metaphorical joker from the WMI deck; Springbank, Rosebank and Bunnahabhain all made healthy WMI ranking gains (The Macallan was managing just fine already). A Springbank 50 Years Old took top honours at £2,200, Longrow 1973 First Distillation went for an impressive £1,050 and a deep-hued Springbank 1964 clinched £900. From Rosebank, the Distiller’s Agency 8 Years Old gained £260 and a Distiller’s Agency 15 Years Old settled at £220. A sepia-labelled Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice Bunnahabhain 17 Years Old distilled in 1965 peaked at £260 and the proprietary 1963 bottlings were snapped up for £150-170. The Macallan 1945 fell short of its low estimate at £2,000 as did the The Macallan 1951 with £900 while the going price for the blue-labelled 30 Years Old was £600 (over double its low estimate, yet almost half the final price paid in Hong Kong).Cluny Auctions in Buckie held their whisky sale in late May with a wide range of accessible malts and blends with a welcome intention for a further sale later in the year. The gems were a vociferous £330 for the Silent Stills Brora 18 Years Old bottled in 2001, Laphroaig Vintage 1977 took a jubilant £440 and The Macallan 12 Years Old Century for the North of Scotland Cricket Association was all-out for £240. Elsewhere, we saw The Balvenie Rose for £280, The Balvenie Tun 1401 at £270
and the 200th Anniversary Oban 16 Years Old Manager’s Dram took £240. Reviewing the WMI from one year ago, Talisker was sitting 14th and Lagavulin was 17th and we’ve observed their slow slide down the rankings. In an increasingly busy market, can the catalogues of upcoming sales keep them in the top flight or will new brands penetrate the top 25?