The Macallan started July as the most collectable whisky in the world as it reclaimed the top spot of the WMI from Karuizawa. The closed Japanese distillery held the top ranking position for seven consecutive months but its lead had shortened in recent months as prices stabilised and fewer bottles appeared in the salerooms. Currently, trades on 695 bottles of Karuizawa over the past 12 months ensured second place, whereas there were 831 bottles when it claimed the number one position last December. Based on live auction sales, Karuizawa was heavily dependent on the major sales in Hong Kong for its position, yet sales in June featured The Macallan more than any other brand. Although The Macallan only beat it by a whisker, the combined results helped the index break through the 2000 barrier for the first time.
The Macallan in Lalique VI secured this year’s most expensive live auctioned bottle of whisky from the Easter Elchies estate. This grand 65 years old whisky completes the Six Pillars collection which marks a highly successful collaboration between The Macallan single malt whisky and the craftsmanship of Lalique crystal. These bottles regularly grace the top ten live auction sales list in our year in review. Dragon 8, Hong Kong set the benchmark for this decanter by accepting a winning bid of HK$480,000/£43,400.
Truth be told, Karuizawa still has bragging rights to the most expensive bottle sold at live auction this year. Karuizawa 1960 52 Years Old ‘The Dragon’ fetched HK$700,000/£61,625 at Zachys, Hong Kong in late May. This single cask yielded 41 bottles in 2013, and another bottle in the series named ‘The Cockerel’ holds the record for the highest standard sized (70cl/75cl) bottle of whisky ever sold at live auction when it was auctioned for HK$750,000 by Bonhams, Hong Kong in August 2015. A well-earned second place for ‘The Dragon’ nonetheless, though by achieving a lower price than ‘The Cockerel’, this may cause the owners of the remaining decanters to hesitate before selling in the coming months.
Scotch whisky dominated the second Dragon 8 auction in Hong Kong, with a focus on The Macallan. Like their previous sale, there was a breath-taking line up of The Macallan Fine & Rare, this time ranging from 1937 to 1970, plus an impressive vertical of The Macallan 18 Year Old from 1947 to 1992. Two bottles of The Macallan Fine & Rare 1937 made HK$228,000/£20,600 and HK$216,000/£19,520 respectively. One of the 69 decanters of Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection Ultra Glenlivet 1952 was auctioned for HK$78,000/£7,050. Although not a bottling used to attracting strings of zeroes, the Glenmorangie Margaux Cask Finish 1987 made HK$7,200/£650, part of the trend of climbing prices for Glenmorangie bottlings from the 1990s and 2000s.
The summer whisky sale at Bonhams, Edinburgh delivered £2,000 for a bottle of Springbank Local Barley 1966, a thrilling £4,800 for a Signatory bottle of Ardbeg 1967 matured for over 30 years in sherry wood, and £2,500 for the Glenury Royal 50 Years Old (though it must be mentioned that Scotch Whisky Auctions achieved £4,300 for this bottle in their 63rd auction). Bonhams handled a bottle of Royal Brackla 1924 60 Years Old with its accompanying miniature, which collected £4,500 in the same auction. The bottle they sold in December made £300 more, and back in 2013, a bottle fetched £6,000 at Christie’s, London. I hope these pieces of history are not losing their allure.
In the last issue, we reported that Whisky Auctioneer had achieved a new online whisky auction record in their May sale. At the time of writing, we reported the sale in good faith from an online source but by the time of publication, the lot was recorded as not meeting the reserve price. We apologise for any confusion caused.
Did You Know?
The annual releases of Parker’s Heritage Collection showcases the skill of the legendary Parker Beam. Each year, he has delivered delicious releases highlighting different aspects of American whiskey making from barrel finishes, different mash bills, to precious older aged stocks. As internationally available limited editions, they have become steadily collectable and the earliest editions now command big prices. Hart Davis Hart, Chicago had a wide range in their June sale. Even for UK collectors who paid more originally for the imported bottles, the returns are unmistakable, though the best results will be achieved by using a US based auction house or an online auction house with a sizeable US customer base.