Thor, Highland Park’s first release in their Valhalla Collection has become the standout collectible whisky of the moment. Hot on the heels of this year’s release (Highland Park Freya), Thor, the Orcadian whisky created in the likeness of the hammer-wielding Norse God, has smashed all previous records. Scotch Whisky Auctions sold 11 bottles in their 36th auction in April, each earning up to £600 a piece. This is five times more than the initial purchase price paid when this whisky was released in 2012. Live auctions felt the shockwaves too as McTear’s, Glasgow watched two bottles sell for £280 each. Although Thor was the most plentiful release in the series with 23,000 bottles, the tightening of supply with Freya may be one of the reasons behind this surge in value. This tactic worked well over the trilogy of bottles in the Highland Park Magnus series, which sent secondary market prices northwards when the restricted allocation of Highland Park Earl Haakon sold out. However, even Haakon has not been able to match the performance of Thor. Meanwhile, Highland Park Loki has been mischievously creeping up on Thor’s success, as Scotch Whisky Auctions posted results of £290 a bottle. Expect to see more bottles from this series coming on to the market in the wake of these successes.
To Glasgow we go in search of some legendary whisky labels. Mulberry Bank Auctions first whisky auction of the year drew some prime examples distilled long ago and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. A Kinclaith 1967 Connoisseur’s Choice bottled 1991 was acquired for £440, a bottle of Balblair 1966 40 Years Old bottled in 2007 seemed a bargain for £320, and a bottle of Glenugie 1968 bottled 2000 was a fine acquisition for £260. MacPhail’s single malt distilled at an unnamed distillery but distilled in 1946 made it a popular choice lifting the bids to £520. There were other Connoisseur’s Choice editions from all eras: a black label Talisker 1956 rightly fetched £950; a Port Ellen 1974 bottled in 1991 made £260; and a map label Glenugie 1966 went for a fair £320.
Their sales continue to have a core of rare Macallan though an appreciable number failed to find a buyer or were discretionally let away just below the low estimate. Serious money was paid for The Macallan 1940 35 Years Old (£1,600), The Macallan 1945 33 Years Old (£1,900), and The Macallan 40 Years Old decanter for Pinerolo (£1,600). Cadenhead dumpies did rather better than recently, exceeding their high reserves in many cases: St Magdalene 25 Years Old took £400; Glendullan 1965 25 Years Old managed a worthy £180; Glen Albyn 1963 20 Years Old garnered a solid £360; Glenury-Royal 24 Years Old performed well with £340; and the Glenlochy 1967 20 Years Old took £440. The blended Scotch of the day was the 1930s bottling of Johnnie Walker Black Label complete in its festive wooden box, which fetched a merry £1,550.
McTear’s March sale, in contrast, was all about Glenmorangie. This was likely to be the best selection of rarities from the Highland distillery since last summer and prices were strong. Starting with the vintages, the Glenmorangie 1963 price of £900 is holding, but the Glenmorangie 1972 single barrel made £280, a 1998 bottling of the 1974 vintage made £180, and the boxed Glenmorangie 1971 took £340 (the Culloden bottle from 1971 slightly underperformed at £300). Next were the finished whiskies; Glenmorangie 1981 Sauternes Wood Finish £440, Glenmorangie Claret Wood Finish £280, Glenmorangie 1975 Tain L’Hermitage £260 and the pick of the bunch being the Glenmorangie Cote de Nuits Finish which sold for £500. Finally, bottlings of the Glenmorangie Distillery Manager’s Choice 1981 made £320, the 1987 port pipe bottling made £220 and Dr. Lumsden’s early experimental wood series fetched good prices:
Glenmorangie 1993 Truffle Oak Reserve (£400); Glenmorangie 1993 Burr Oak Reserve (£140); and Glenmorangie 1991 Missouri Oak Reserve £210.
Dougie Munro, Brand Manager of Robert Graham Treasurer, 254 Canongate, Edinburgh
What whisky have you bought to keep?
An Old Malt Cask Bowmore 16 Years Old. It had this incredible spearmint flavour.
What whisky will you sell or open soon?
The dram that made me fall in love with whisky was Ardbeg 17 Years Old, which is now over £200 a bottle.