AD SPACE

Small or Far Away

Jonny McCormick examines life in miniature
Whisky miniatures were the original whisky collectible.They were the spark that kindled the fire in many a collector’s heart. These days, the passion for miniatures burns just as bright and there are some intriguing little whiskies to be nosed. Rummage in the cardboard boxes slung low under the auction house display tables, which jangle with a multitude of treasures too laborious to catalogue. McTear’s, Glasgow has had significant offerings across the year; two boxed Signatory miniatures of Killyloch 1972 and Glen Flagler 1970 bottled in the mid-1990s were collected for £220, The Edrington Express sold for £150, a Gordon & MacPhail Macallan-Glenlivet 1937 70 proof took £340, The Macallan 1961 miniature £200, and a 60 Years Old mini from the House of Buchanan bottled in 1975 attracted £260.Mulberry Bank Auctions, Glasgow have unearthed some rare beauties such as the six black label Ardbeg minis from the 1980s and white label 1960s Ardbeg that sold for £380, a Springbank Millennium set for £250 and a Dalmore 50 Years Old for £500.Looking back, it was their June sale that was the highlight which produced the Connoisseurs Choice, Signatory and Cadenhead miniatures.Could it be time to downsize?AUCTION WATCHThe Macallan has topped £1million in live bidding auctions in the past year for the first time and maintains an unshakeable grip on the WMI’s top spot. To put this achievement into context, that’s greater than the combined total of last year’s live auction sales for Glenfiddich, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Glenmorangie and Springbank put together.There are whiskies being sold at auction almost every single day in the annual climax of the season.The market hit fever pitch and the WMI is rising with double digit growth due to the presentation of some significant estate collections and strong international sales (Asia, Middle East and mainland Europe). Ardbeg has elbowed Bowmore into fourth place for the first time in WMI history thanks to an increase in total spending on Ardbeg with a rise in the number of their bottlings coming to market, coupled with falling proportions of bottles and spending on Bowmore during the same period. Highland Park has hit its lowest WMI ranking to date due to a shrinking number of rarer bottles being offered, although collectors will be reassured to learn that average prices are actually higher than at any other point of 2012 meaning than demand remains strong. Lastly, Glengoyne dropped out of the top 25 rankings after a 12 month stay.Christies, Geneva held a sale of Venerable Spirits and Fine Cigars which featured a collection of single cask Macallan and became the highest grossing live bidding whisky auction of 2012. Vintages ranged from 1946 through to the 1970s with prices in the £2000 – £12,000 range per bottle.Forty corresponding miniatures of The Macallan representing vertical vintages from 1937 to 1974 pulled in £32,800 and The Macallan Lalique 50 Years Old fetched a magnificent £10,500.Bonhams, Hong Kong demonstrated their success in delivering highly collectible whiskies to an eager marketplace with the sale of Gordon & MacPhail Generations Glenlivet 70 Years Old for HKD170,000/£13,770 and a first appearance at auction of the G&M Glen Grant Queen Diamond Jubilee 1952 60 Years Old which bowed out at HKD75,000/£6,075.The next bottle of Glenfiddich 1955 Janet Sheed Roberts 55 Years Old reached HKD380,000/£30,780 which is around half the price paid for the bottle sold in New York last March. Topically, some of the family jewels from The Dalmore were up for sale including Aurora 45 Years Old (HKD32,000/£2,600), Astrum 40 Years Old (HKD19,000/ £1,540) and the Dalmore 1978 (HKD$9,000/£730).Back in Glasgow, November ended with another tussle between McTear’s and Mulberry Bank Auctions with large sales on consecutive days (from a WMI perspective, McTear’s sold more eligible bottles and raised a slightly greater sum on the day). However, Mulberry Bank Auction had gathered some fine stock rarely seen at auction with great interest aroused by a bottle of Laphroaig circa 1930s bottled by Matthew Gloag & Sons of Perth which climbed to £2,500, two bottles of G&M Mortlach 1936 50 Years Old “The Book of Kells” each fetched £950 and there was a taste of the colossal collection of The Macallan that should go under the hammer throughout the coming year. The Dalmore Candela took top honours at Mulberry Bank with a hammer price of £8,000; a 33 per cent increase on the hammer price of the bottle sold by Bonhams 14 months earlier, or alternatively, an appreciation of £30 a week between the two auction dates. McTear’s trump cards were early SMWS bottlings of Port Ellen (distillery No. 43); cask 43.1 was distilled in December 1978 and bottled in July 1987 and may never have appeared at auction before, resulting in a hugely competitive bidding process that ended with a price of £2,200 (even a bottled of cask 43.2 made £1,200).Likewise, cask 42.1 (Bruichladdich) fetched £800, the second highest priced paid for a bottle of Bruichladdich at auction this year.Although Rare Malts prices slipped in the second half of the year, both bottles of Brora 22 Years Old 1972 hit £950 and Port Ellen 20 and 22 Years Old editions were securing £400. Ardbeg Manager’s Dram 1976 from cask 2391 took £1,600 (some way behind the bottle sold the day before at Mulberry Bank for £1,900).A new record price of £2,800 was set for a bottle of Black Bowmore 1st edition from 1993 at McTear’s and top prices were also achieved for Laphroaig 1977 which claimed £550 to 560 a bottle.

Forthcoming auctions