Springbank, Dalmore, Brora, Laphroaig. Where to start?… Macallan of course. The Macallan 40 Year Old 2016 Release finished up at a hammer price of £17200, a significant increase on the price it achieved in July, suggesting the demand for rare Macallan shows no sign of slowing down. Elsewhere, football fans were watching the bottle of Chivas Regal The Icon 50 Year Old, created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Manchester United’s victory in the 1968 European Cup against Benfica and one of only four in existence, which reached a hammer price of £12000.
On Islay, the Black Bowmore 1964 2nd Edition reached £9000, with the Laphroaig 40 Year Old finished at £4600 and the Laphroaig 1980 27 Year Old Sherry Cask coming in at £3000. Older bottlings from the Laphroaig distillery performed well too, with a Laphroaig 10 Year Old bottled in the 1970s ending at £1750 and Laphroaig 10 Year Old bottled in the 1980s at £1200.
In the Highlands, the majestic Dalmore 1966 40 Year Old ended at £5800 and a bottle of Brora 1972 30 Year Old, bottled by Douglas Laing for its Old & Rare Platinum Selection achieved £3200. In Campbeltown, the Springbank 50 Year Old Millennium achieved a strong finish at £7200 whilst in Speyside, the Longmorn 1965 46 Year Old Book of Kells showed well at £2000.
Away from whisky, everyone’s attention was on the rum category. A bottle of Long Pond 1941, bottled in 1999 by Gordon MacPhail ended up at £1900 and a pre-1970 Royal Navy Rum Flagon achieved a price of £1550. Some dramatic late bidding saw the wonderful 1940s bottlings of Lemon Hart Overproof and Lemon Hart 151 Proof both achieve hammer prices of £1200. The market for rare rums is stronger than ever.
Around the world, a fine bottle of Patron En Lalique Tequila reached £2700, whilst a 1980s bottle of Kweichow Moutai Baijiu ended at £625 after some frantic late bidding. Last but by no means least, the demand for Romano Levi grappa continues to escalate, with a bottle of Romano Levi Donna Selvatica 1989 finishing at £570 and a more recent expression, Romano Levi 2004 at £360.
You can read more about the 1940s Lemon Hart rum here.
A bottle of The Macallan 40 Year Old. This was matured in sherry seasoned Spanish oak casks for a minimum of 40 years and bottled at 45% ABV for release in 2016. The bottle is presented in a wooden case and includes the original outer packaging.
This is bottle number 15 of 500.
Winning bid £17,200
A bottle of Karuizawa 38 Year Old, one of a pair of Pearl Geishas released in 2018. This sherry-aged malt was distilled in the early 1980s and bottled by Elixir Distillers exclusively for The Whisky Exchange. Each bottle in the pair has complementary labels designed by The Whisky Exchange’s creative director Raj Chavda and are presented in individual wooden cases.
This is bottle number 025 of 172; this was bottled from cask number 4348.
Karuizawa was founded in 1956 by Japanese wine and spirits producer Daikoku Budoshu to supply malt whisky for the company’s Ocean blends. Despite a rocky start due to import restrictions, the distillery began importing Golden Promise barley from the UK and producing a Scottish-style spirit which was matured in Spanish sherry casks, though it was still destined for the company’s blending vats. By the late 1980s and 1990s, Karuizawa started to earn a reputation as a single malt, but this wasn’t enough to stop the distillery closing in 2001 when its owner, by then called Mercian, was acquired by drinks giant Kirin. In 2007, UK bottler Number One Drinks started to release single casks of Karuizawa and these grabbed the attention of whisky fans worldwide. More independent bottlings were to follow, and with stocks depleting, each new release has become a major event in the whisky calendar.
Winning bid £14,000
A bottle of Chivas Regal The Icon 50th Anniversary Limited Edition blended Scotch whisky. This 50 year old blend, the oldest ever bottled by Chivas Brothers, was created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Manchester United’s victory in the 1968 European Cup against Benfica.
The whisky comes in a hand-blown Dartington Crystal decanter featuring hand-carved metal crests in dark blue, the colour Manchester United wore in the 1968 final. The presentation box includes a glass stopper and a small book detailing the history of Chivas Brothers and the story of this bottling.
Only four bottles were released, one to represent each of the goals scored by Manchester United in their 4-1 extra-time victory over Benfica. One of the bottles was sold by Sotheby’s in an online charity auction in 2018, one was housed in the Manchester United Museum before being sold at an end of season event in 2019, and one bottle is on display at Strathisla, the distillery at the heart of Chivas Regal.
This is one of four bottles.
Winning bid £12,000
The second edition of Black Bowmore 1964 Finest Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, bottled in 1994.
The Bowmore distillery underwent an extensive upgrade in late 1963 to 1964 under new owners Stanley P Morrison. This included converting the stills from direct coal firing to indirect steam firing, and this bottling comes from the first distillation following the conversion. The spirit was filled into oloroso sherry casks and matured for 30 years below sea level in the distillery vaults, before bottling at 50% ABV in 1994. Each bottle is numbered and signed by James McColl, Bowmore Distillery Manager from 1960 to 1968.
This is bottle number 1270 of 2000.
Winning bid £9,000
A bottle of Springbank 50 Year Old, bottled as part of the Millennium series. This was originally sold as part of a set which included whiskies ranging from 25 to 50 years old.
Springbank is a family-owned Campbeltown distillery, founded in 1828. The distillery has been owned by the Mitchell family since 1837, when John and William Mitchell purchased it from their brother-in-law and distillery founder William Reid. Springbank survived the crash of the 1920s while many of its Campbeltown neighbours closed down. Following a period of closure between 1979 and 1987, a decision was made to no longer supply blenders and focus solely on single malt bottlings. With the maltings reopened in 1992, the complete process of whisky production is carried out on site, from malting the barley to bottling the whisky. Three distinct whiskies are produced at Springbank distillery: in addition to the eponymous single malt there is the triple-distilled, unpeated Hazelburn, and the heavily peated Longrow. Today, it is one of only three distilleries remaining in Campbeltown.
Winning bid £7,200
A bottle of The Dalmore 40 Year Old. This was distilled on 21 March 1966 and comes in a presentation box with a certificate of authenticity signed by Master Distiller Richard Paterson.
This is bottle number 923 of 1000.
Dalmore distillery was founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson, and was taken over by the Mackenzie family in 1878. The distillery remained family-owned until 1960, when one of Dalmore’s biggest customers, Whyte & Mackay, took control of the distillery. Always a significant contributor to blends, the 12 year old expression was one of the few single malt bottlings from Dalmore. In recent times, the core range has expanded and luxury expressions such as the Constellation collection (21 vintage malts from 1964 to 1992) were released.
Winning bid £5,800
A bottle of Brora 22 Year Old. This was distilled in 1972 and bottled in the mid 1990s for Diageo’s now-discontinued Rare Malts Selection.
Brora distillery was built in 1819 by the Marquis of Stafford, it was originally known as Clynelish. It wasn’t until the ‘new’ Clynelish distillery was built in 1968, and a 1975 law was passed banning two distilleries from having the same name, that the name was changed to Brora. The distillery produced a heavily-peated malt through the 1970s, until peating levels were dropped in the early 1980s. Brora was mothballed in 1983. In 2017, Diageo announced that Brora distillery is to be rebuilt in its original buildings, and would reopen in 2020.
Winning bid £5,600
A bottle of Laphroaig 40 Year Old, the oldest official bottling from Laphroaig. This was aged in Warehouse No.1 and bottled at natural cask strength.
The label carries a royal warrant by appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales.
This is bottle number 1508.
Winning bid £4,600
A bottle of Long Pond single cask Jamaican rum bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. This was distilled on 3 May 1941, the cask was shipped to the UK in 1946, and was matured in Elgin, Scotland, from 1967 until bottling in 1999.
This is presented in a wooden box with a certificate of authenticity.
Winning bid £1,900
A bottle of Patrón Extra Añejo Tequila made from 100% Weber blue agave, the first release in the Lalique series. The agave is slow-roasted in traditional brick ovens for more than three days then crushed by a two-ton volcanic stone wheel to release its juices. After fermentation and pot still distillation, the Tequila is matured for at least four years in a combination of American and French oak barrels.
The Lalique crystal decanter is inspired by Mexico’s Weber blue agave plant and the stopper represents the heart of the agave, the piña. Each lead-free crystal bottle is hand-polished and numbered and comes in a leather display case. Also included is a leather-bound booklet and a USB key with images charting the production process of the Tequila and the decanter.
This is bottle number 037 of 500.
Winning bid £2,700
A 4.5 litre flagon of Royal Navy Rum, presented in the traditional wicker casing. There is no text visible on the wax seal, which usually indicates the bottle year. We estimate this was bottled prior to 1970, the year that the naval rum ration was discontinued.
Rum has been associated with the Royal Navy since the British fleet captured the island of Jamaica in 1655. The availability of rum led the Navy to swap the daily ration of French brandy with Caribbean rum, which was issued to each sailor at midday. In the 1740s, Admiral Edward Vernon began the practice of diluting the rum with water to minimize the effect of alcohol on the crew, this mixture became known as ‘grog’.
The daily rum ration, or ‘tot’, was served until 31 July 1970, a day now known as ‘Black Tot Day’. In modern times, a tot of rum is issued to naval crew to celebrate special occasions, such as royal weddings.
Winning bid £1,550
A bottle of Lemon Hart Overproof Royal Navy Demerara Rum, produce of British Guiana. We estimate this was bottled in the 1940s.
Please note, there is no ABV stated on the labels.
The Hart’s have been involved in the rum trade since 1768, when German merchant Abraham Hart settled in Penzance, Cornwall. Importing and trading rum from the Caribbean, Hart earned a strong reputation as a spirits merchant. Two generations later, Abraham’s grandson Lehman ‘Lemon’ Hart took charge of the business and began to focus on blending, creating a signature blend made of rums distilled on the banks of the Demerara river in Guyana. In the late 18th century, Lemon Hart & Son became the official supplier of the Royal Navy’s rum ration. In 1804, fearing an attack by the French in the Napoleonic Wars, Lemon Hart moved all of his rum stocks from Penzance to his newly established base in West India Dock, London. Lemon Hart died in 1845, and his only son, David, took over the business. Lemon Hart & Son joined rum importers Portal Dingwall & Norris in 1892, and this company merged with Alfred Lamb Ltd. during World War II to form United Rum Merchants.
Winning bid £1,200
A bottle of Romano Levi Donna Selvatica grappa, distilled and bottled in 1989 at Levi Serafino Distillery. The label was hand drawn by Romano Levi, each is unique.
Winning bid £550