News

The accidental connoisseur

From whisky novice to collector extraordinaire
By Phoebe Calver
In this business it’s pretty unusual to come across a collection of whiskies that were curated by someone with a starting point of little-to-no interest in the spirit, but it would appear we have found our unicorn.

Whisky Auctioneer has recently unveiled Pat’s Whisk(e)y Collection, consisting of 9,000 bottles (not including those that the collector is holding on to), in which there is an impressively diverse selection of whiskies from around the globe.

Around 15 years ago, a man now known as Pat, for anonymity’s sake, went for a drink with a colleague that would send his life off in an unexpected direction. A dram couldn’t have been further from his mind that night, or any night for that matter. Although at that time he enjoyed drinking spirits, whisky never really clicked into place for him, with a JD and coke being the extent of his exploration.

As a French national who did a lot of travelling at a young age, Pat learned a great deal about wine from his parents and the intricacies of oenology. However, when it came to whisky, he didn’t place a lot of faith in his palate.

When catching up with Pat to get to grips with how his collection came to be, he explained: “I had a late-night drink with a colleague of mine who was also a good friend and he ordered a very expensive whisky for me. I stopped him to explain it would be wasted on me as my palate won’t know the difference. He was perplexed as to why I didn’t like whisky.”

Refusing to give up on the situation, this friend went on to ask a series of questions in the hopes of getting to the bottom of this whisky mystery. By the end of the evening, Pat was provided with a list of 10 whiskies to try.

Pat enthusiastically went into detail: “He said drink them in this order, write down your impressions and look for these things. It was the first time I understood that there is more to whisky than just drinking it. By the end of that first journey of those 10 whiskies, I had tasted, I would estimate, about 100 different flavours and each whisky from the first sip to the last sip was a journey.

“After that I would describe it as what happens these days when you open up YouTube and end up falling into a hole; I fell into the whisky rabbit hole and I’m just climbing out of it 15 years later.”

The collection began with Douglas Laing’s Old & Rare Platinum Selection, and today it is composed of more than 9,000 bottles of whisky from over 150 Scottish distilleries, as well as numerous Bourbons, rare releases sourced from independent bottlers in Europe and other unusual expressions from distilleries across the world.

To Pat, whisky is about the personal journey as well as learning about the character and passion that goes into creating it. After all, no one makes whisky without passion for it and clearly the same applies to this collector.

From that first tasting session, the key makeup of Pat’s collection, or his ‘personal drinking stash’, as he likes to call it, was born: “I started in that very specific way of drinking 10 whiskies, so I don’t ever have an evening or event with friends where I just have one bottle. We will always open 10 in order to compare and contrast, talk about the difference and enjoy the journey.

“I was always thematic and making purchases in packs of 10 or 20, and in complete series’. I never bought a whisky that I expected to keep, I always bought them with the idea of drinking them. Eventually I guess my research just got ahead of me and I think I realised when I hit 5,000 that I’d never make it through them.”

At that point Pat looked at what else he could do with this ever-growing collection of whiskies. The main aim was to ensure that more people could have the shared experiences he was having with friends over a selection of whiskies.

He added: “The intention was never to sell it, I always thought that I would do something with it, but I reached the conclusion that I wouldn’t be able to and it was becoming unmanageable.

“A few years ago, I decided I was going to sell it. I talked to someone who wanted the whole collection and I just couldn’t handle the idea of this going into someone’s cellar and being forgotten. I really liked the approach of Whisky Auctioneer and the idea that people will be enjoying the whiskies, drinking them and completing their collections. I’m thrilled by the concept that this will go towards continuing other people’s experiences with the spirit.”

Alongside the auction of Pat’s Whisk(e)y Collection, Whisky Auctioneer are offering the chance to join an exclusive club, with insider access to this impressive selection. Pat’s Whisk(e)y Club is a place for whisky enthusiasts, whether novice or expert, to unlock access to exclusive content, educational resources and get involved in the journey of Pat's Whisk(e)y Collection. More information is available here. (whiskylink.co/pats-whisky-club)

Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctioneer, commented on the collection: "The entire collection has an estimated hammer price of approximately $5 million, however the focus for starting the project was never on ultra-premium priced whiskies. The value of the collection lies in its completeness, with many of the most lauded series from some of the finest distilleries in the world featured here in their entirety.

“The upcoming auctions are a unique opportunity for whisky lovers old and new to start or complete a collection and for me, it is this accessibility that sets Pat’s Whisk(e)y Collection apart from others we have seen. It goes against the grain of whisky only being for experienced connoisseurs, and is a collection for everyone, accessible to all, and most importantly, something to be enjoyed.”

The whole collection will be available at Whisky Auctioneer between now and June 2021; after considering the sheer volume and bottle diversity, it was decided that multiple auctions were required to showcase it in all its glory.

Running from 25 September to 5 October, Whisky Auctioneer's September auction will feature world whiskies from Pat's Whisk(e)y Collection, including highlights from Japanese distilleries Karuizawa and Hanyu. In addition to this will be several of the highly sought-after ranges collected by Pat, including an impressive offering from Daftmill and some stunning aged expressions of Bowmore, Port Ellen, Caperdonich and Highland Park from the Duncan Taylor Tantalus series, some of which have never been seen at auction before.

Whisky Auctioneer have also curated a line-up of exclusive and spotlight auctions to showcase prominent components of the collection. This aspect will begin with Bourbon, including a selection of whiskeys that have not been brought to auction previously. More information will be released shortly regarding this first exclusive auction, coming in October 2020.