Tag Archives: Dalmore

Rare Whisky Review – 24th June 2016

As the rare whisky auction market in the UK has exploded over recent years, it’s become increasingly challenging to regularly feature coverage for each auction-house. We’ve taken the decision to produce a more holistic rare whisky review rather than a weekly auction watch featuring just one auction-house. While we plan on focussing on the secondary market, we’ll also feature important primary market releases and our opinion on pricing, value and market impact too.

We’ll ultimately be producing fewer reports but we hope our readers continue to enjoy our market commentary. We welcome feedback, suggestions and recommendations for future content.

Secondary Market – June 2016

Macallan are experiencing a sea-change in both demand and pricing for their, among others, classic 18 and 25 year olds. The increases through 2016 have been utterly mesmerising; almost unlike anything we’ve seen before. The 18 year olds have seen a 34.13% increase through 2016 and the 25 year olds by 26.14%.

Macallan Indices for 18 and 25 year olds

Scotch Whisky Auctions June sale pushed certain values further with a notable 1963 Macallan vintage (pre the more traditional 18 year olds) fetching a huge £2400. Buoyancy remained but looked to stabilise a little more for many other bottles of vintage 18’s as they continued to trade at the top of the market. The below Rare Whisky extract shows the volume and annual average value for the Macallan 1972 18 year old.

Macallan 18 1972 Volume vs Value

Bottles are vanishing from the market and values are soaring. A robust correlation?

Contemporary Macallan bottles continue to underperform the broader market.

William Grant’s highly collectable Hazelwood Reserve (the first of the five bottle set commemorating respective birthdays of Janet Sheed Roberts) has always been the most desirable of the set. This was last sold at auction in the UK for £420. That price seemed a distant memory as the current market fetched £2200.

The index below shows the combined performance of the five bottles.

Hazelwood Index Jun 2016

The impact of this recent sale is clearly evident but the remaining four bottles continue their negative trajectory. We suggest this particular bottle was bought by a collector looking to complete the set. As this is the most challenging bottle to acquire, for a completist collector price is often not the biggest barrier… simply finding one is!

Old 1980’s Lagavulin had more or less doubled in value over the last 3 years. £920 was paid for a poor fill level White Horse 1980’s bottle. These old gems are becoming less frequently seen in the market. Are the remaining bottles being hoarded or are they being drunk? The answer to that in some respects will define future values. These old, hard to find discontinued releases, look to provide further value to the collector and investor; but is there value to be had out of the current retail/primary market? We look at that a little later.

SWA High Performers
Stellar performers from the recent June Scotch Whisky Auction

Illustrating how influential and important the secondary market has become, some of the largest rare whisky retailers have now established auction based routes to market. The Whisky Exchange’s online auction – Whisky.Auction is one of those. Showing continued heightened demand for the rarest of examples, a bottle of Port Ellen 2008 Feis Ile sold for £3,700 in their June auction far exceeding its previous £3,400 record.

Bonhams June auction brought two notable rarities under the hammer. One of the 77 bottles of Dalmore Candela fetched a record £13,000, significantly up on its 2014 previous best of £10,600. The second bottle was interestingly a blend rather than a malt when an early 1900’s bottle of Johnnie Walker managed a very respectable £6000.

Whisky Auctioneer’s most recent auction ended on the 30th of May and was a generally buoyant affair. That said, a bottle of the 1953 Glenfarclas Wealth Solutions bottle came well down from its October 2015 high of £5,200. This bottle settled well below previous sales when it finally sold for £3,900 (broadly in line with its 2013 prices).

Glenfarclas 1953 Wealth Solns
Not a particularly good solution for one’s wealth if you bought at the peak

Tobermory isn’t necessarily the distillery most associated with collecting and investing, Tobermory 1972 33 year oldhowever, further cementing the underpinning of the whole market by liquid quality, a bottle of 1972 33 year old Tobermory sold for £735. We were fortunate enough to be able to sample this bottle on a recent treasure hunting trip and we were both bowled over by this exceptional spirit.

Final mention has to go to Whisky-online Auctions superb £8,200 result for a bottle of 1967 ‘Largiemeanoch’ – which is Gaelic for stunning sherry cask Bowmore! This bottle appeared expensive when it first sold in the UK for £2,350 in 2012, a price now dwarfed by recent market performance.

Old, rare and high quality whiskies continue to be the subject of desire to a growing international audience. This sustained demand is pushing prices ever higher. While demand remains as it is and supply (of the right bottles) is relatively low in the grand scheme of things, this continued buoyancy looks set to continue.

Some of the exceptional increases we’ve seen over recent months would appear to need to cool down a little. We can’t physically see the Macallan 18 year olds progress on the same trajectory. We envisage a cooling is required in certain areas of the market to restore balance; however, we don’t expect a significant re-trace… equally we never say never.

Primary Market/Retail Releases.

Continuing Lagavulin’s 200th birthday celebrations, a new 25 year old has been released. 8,000 bottles (slightly fewer than the 2002 release’s 9,000) wholly matured in sherry casks will cost £799 per bottle. Does that represent value to the collector and investor?

Lagavulin-whisky_Lagavulin-25-Year-1200x675

Firstly, the dedicated Lagavulin collector will undoubtedly need to buy this bottle but we see little immediate reward for the investor. The 2002 release 25 year old sells on the secondary market for around £500 – £600.

While, to some degree, we’re not speaking from a position of absolute knowledge as we haven’t yet tried the liquid (but we will be), we suspect a similar auction price-point could be achieved in the short to medium term e.g. a 20% loss over retail price. If the liquid is utterly stellar, secondary market prices could be a little higher.

From a pure pricing perspective, at £799, the Lagavulin has positioned itself above virtually every other 25 out there. The current 25 year old Macallan sherry oak can be found for the same price. Dalmore’s pricing was decreed as outrageous when their recent 25 year old hit the market for £600 (that now sells at auction for around £400).

Both Highland Park and Glendronach (Grandeur) can be found for around, or under, the £350 price point. Two worthy drams in anyone’s book.

Looking at some others – Glenmorangie can be found at £250, Glenfiddich is £299 and Diageo stablemate Talisker is a mere snip (it actually really is) at £230.

OR how about half a case of Glenfarclas 25 year old (£120 per bottle) for more or less the same price?

We’re not saying the pricing is wrong, bad, good, superb or indifferent, just interesting. Once we’ve tried the liquid we’ll be able to comment with absolute knowledge.

Until next time, slainte.

Andy and David.

Weekly Auction Watch – 4th Jan 2015

Scotch Whisky Auctions opened 2016’s early auction scene with a bang yesterday. The bang was more of a resounding punch to the nose than a fizz-popping celebratory New Year firework – especially for famed north-east highland distillery, Dalmore.

2012 saw the release of the Dalmore Constellation Collection, a vertical vintage set of twenty-one bottles. Single casks, lavish (but not silly) packaging, in some cases ultra-limited numbers of bottles with many being among the very best quality drams one could ever have the pleasure of drinking.

Constellation Collection
A full 21 bottle salute

For the first time since their launch, a full set of Constellations hit the open market. It appears the original retail price of £158,000 was already deemed an improbable target by the seller whose reserve prices added up to £111,000 for the full set. Taking off 10% auctioneers commission and VAT would leave £97,680 for the vendor. That’s already a 38.18% loss over RRP.

A hypothetical buyers bargain? Surely all twenty-one bottles would be taken so set number 6 was kept in-tact? That was far from reality as Constellations became constipated and the nine most expensive bottles failed to move through the auction.

Just twelve bottles saw the hammer fall as the reserve was hit. They were also the lower value bottles and only yielded £27,200 in terms of total hammer price (£23,936 to the vendor after commission and VAT). The original RRP of these twelve bottles was £40,500 so that’s a loss of 40.90%.

Clearly we have no idea why the owner wanted to sell; these could have been an unwanted gift or a lavish celebratory dram for a wedding which never happened… or 1001 other reasons.

If… IF, these were bought as an investment, this has to be listed as the biggest whisky auctioneering failure since the Bowmore 1957 54 year old crashed and burned at Bonhams in 2012. Same as the Dalmore Paterson Collection (whatever happened to that?), the price of a Constellation set, even a bottle, removes most drinkers from the market and, from what we’ve seen here, also doesn’t look like an investment; that purely leaves the collectors. When a bottle/collection targets one buyer group and ignores the rest, it’s doomed to a fate like this when it finally sees the light of auction.

Imagine buying a theoretical set of bottles for £158,000 as an investment and selling what you could for just £27,200. Ouch doesn’t even come close.

Away from Constellations and Dalmore fared better. The first bottle of the 2015 release fifteen year old Custodians bottle achieved £350, way over its retail price of £100.

Balvenie DCS CompendiumStaying with the vintage vertical concept, Balvenie saw the youngest of its recent DCS Compendium collection sell for more than its original retail price. One of 218 bottles of the 9 year old sold for £520, some 30% ahead of its £400 original retail price.

History shows us, January’s not the best month to sell one’s crown jewels from a whisky perspective; interest and prices tend to be on the low side (even more unhelpful for the Constellation Collection). There were, however, some great results for certin rarities.Ardbeg 1972 c866

Ardbeg’s 1972 vintage (cask 866) fetched a record £1,450. Its previous best was £1,050 in 2014 and its low-point was just £300 in 2008.

Glenlivet 1955Older vintages continue to increase in both rarity and price. Gordon & MacPhail’s 2005 bottled 1955 vintage Glenlivet sold for £760, way surpassing it low of £300 in 2008 and its previous record of £600 in 2015.St Mag 1963 CC

Other than a St. Magdalene 1963 Connoisseurs Choice tipping the scales for a record £490, it was a relatively quiet start to 2016.

There’s the usual raft of auctions this month so it’ll be interesting to see if the bidding picks up as the festive fog of alcohol and food lifts.

Weekly Auction Watch – 2nd Nov 2015

October departed quicker than a bottle of Loch Dhu down a drain. An immensely busy month for RW101 saw our weekly updates turn monthly. There are huge levels of activity in many areas of the market right now, which in itself is exceptionally exciting… Volatility and extended losses for some and immense upwards pressure on values for others.

November’s first dedicated whisky sale saw a bumper 2,800 lots go under the e-hammer at Scotch Whisky Auctions. In last months SWA sale, fifteen out of the top twenty most expensive bottles were from Karuizawa; Scotch took just five. This month, Scotland gained a little ground holding onto seven out of the top twenty. That said, the price difference between the most expensive bottle of Karuizawa and the most expensive bottle of Scotch was vast: £9,000 took the first bottle (of just 50 released) on the open market from Karuizawa’s cask number 3557. Laphroaig’s 1960 vintage 40 year old was capable of just £4,000 – Incidentally, that’s the first time this bottle’s hit £4,000, having a previous record of £3,800.

Over £16,000 right here... Just these three!
Over £16,000 right here… Just these three!

The second most expensive bottle of Scotch was also a record breaker. One of the ultra-rare 1973 28 year old Talisker’s shot to a record £3,200, comfortably exceeding its previous best of £2,500.

Ardbeg demonstrated the ongoing trend of market polarisation as a bottle of the highly desirable Lord of the Isles took an all-time second best price of £820. Languishing at the other end of the spectrum, the Kildalton Project bottle struggled to fetch its original retail price of £120… After fees and taxes the result is clearly a steep net loss.

Clynelish 12
Just £120 in 2009

Featured in our previous auction update, “buyer beware at these heady prices” was our closing remark about Bowmore’s Mizunara cask finish when the first bottle to hit the market achieved £1,200. One short month later and we’re looking at a 25% auction-to-auction loss following a £900 sale. Still more than its original retail price but classic new-release-curve at play.

Further highlighting bottles released years/decades ago containing legacy-liquid are still hugely sought after, a bottle of early 1980’s bottled Clynelish 12 year old sold for a record £560. Way back in 2009, a paltry £120 would have secured one of these.

From a collector/investor perspective, Dalmore values continue to harden. As much as Dalmore has become famous (infamous) for their recent seemingly excessive pricing, their long extinct bottles and older vintages keep stepping up in value. A bottle of exceptionally rare 12-year-old from the 1970’s at 75 degrees proof achieved £640, way ahead of its £260 Low in 2010. Along with that, a wonderful old bottle of 20-year-old hit £740 – not an outright record (£785) but way ahead of the £450 paid in 2010.

Long extinct releases and older vintages underpin Dalmore as a collectable
Long extinct releases and older vintages underpin Dalmore as a collectable

While we didn’t run the numbers, anecdotally, there appeared to be a continuation in the trend for declining stock from silent distilleries. There just isn’t much floating around the auction-ether anymore.

Be it the above mentioned stress on supply or a renewed level of demand, following an extended period of volatility, Brora OB values seem to be settling towards the higher end of their trading range. No outright records were set but there was evident pressure on the prices paid.

Mirroring the above apparent stress in supply, one of just two bottles from silent lowlander, St Magdalene, (a 1965/1993 Connoisseurs Choice) fetched an almost inevitable new record £320. The other, a bottle of the 19-year-old Rare Malts Selection, fetched £520. Not a record but towards the top end of its trading range, especially noting the borderline fill level. In 2008 you’d have picked this bottle up for £100.

St Mag - Just two bottles out of over 2,800 at this auction
St Mag represented by Just two bottles at this auction

All-told, a buoyant start to what it traditionally the highest volume month of the year. Whether that trend continues is anybody’s guess…

Until next time.

Slainte,

Andy

All images courtesy of Scotch Whisky Auctions

Weekly Auction Watch – 7th July 2015

Are Bottles from Silent Stills Vanishing?

Scotch Whisky Auctions (SWA) first sale of quarter three 2015 highlighted a particularly revealing trend. For some time now we’ve had it in mind that the number of bottles appearing at auction from silent distilleries is in decline. Until now It’s been more of an anecdotal thought; as usual, we’ve tried to put some numbers behind the hypothesis. Individual bottle values seem to be increasing for most, if not all, silent distilleries. So before we come onto the usual winners and not-so-winners from the recent SWA we take a look at open market supply for silent stills.

The charts below illustrate some single month analysis over the last three years for the number of bottles from silent stills hitting the hammer. This is purely from Scotch Whisky Auctions and shows full-sized bottles (and 50cl) only, so excludes 20cl and miniatures.

Are bottles from silent distilleries set to become extinct?
Are bottles from silent distilleries set to become extinct?

We suspected a decline would be evident; however, we had no idea it would be so severe. Over a two-year period the % of bottles from silent stills compared to ‘all lots sold’ has fallen from almost 5.8% in July 2013 to almost 3.7% in July 2015. I find that quite staggering… more than 1% per year. In part, this goes some way to highlighting why bottles from silent stills feature record prices so frequently.

The question is – Are they being kept/collected or are they being consumed?

If they are being preserved to be re-sold in future months/years, once prices reach a certain level, we may see this trend reverse (at least stabilise). If they’re being drunk, effectively reducing the target pool of available stock, values should continue to increase… in some cases that increase could be somewhat rapid.

Demand continues at all-time highs, so with stock levels exiting the market at this rate, now might just be the time to buy those missing bottles from one’s collection. Official Port Ellen and Brora prices have remained relatively static for some time and have re-traced from previous high points… but for how long?

Silence, it appears, is indeed golden!

The recent SWA sale had many new records for bottles from both open and closed distilleries.

The recent up-trend for older discontinued bottles of Macallan accelerated as we saw a bottle of 1968 vintage 18-year-old break £1,000 for the first time. £1,150 took the bottle past its previous high of £950 and left its 2008 low-point of £240 way in the distance. The red-label US export Cask Strength bottling managed to squeeze £400 for the first time, some £60 over its previous high and a highland-mile away from its £120 low in 2010.

Older collectable Macallan maintains collectors credentials
Older collectable Macallan maintains collectors credentials

There was no let-up in demand for Macallan’s halo bottles as the 1951 (one of 632 bottles released – NOT the Fine and Rare bottle it’s frequently confused with) fetched £8,600. While this is an equal record, the bottle hasn’t seen that kind of price since February 2014. With a 2011 all-time low of £1,600, a clear £7000 increase in value is somewhat impressive.  The 1961 (again NOT the Fine and Rare bottle it’s frequently confused with) managed £7,000, its second best ever.

More modern contemporary Macallan saw some small but none the less important rises with the 2011 Royal Marriage taking £1,100 – £1,200 and the Coronation twin set managing £780 – Have we now tested the bottom for the Royal trilogy? Unfortunately, other limited editions fared less favourably with both Ghillies Dram and the Burns decanter selling well under recent trading levels.

Rarities took some of the limelight with older aged/vintage bottles remaining gilt-edged. Dalmore’s 45 year old Aurora achieved a new record £3,900. If this was bought as a ‘drinker’ it’s utterly sublime; one of the few whiskies which is scorched into my memory…. At £3,900 it’s not cheap… and nor should it be!

Older vintages, older age statements and true rarities flourish
Older vintages, older age statements and true rarities flourish

Ardbeg’s 1975 single cask (1375) sold for £1,250 and £1,150, both new record prices. £400 would have taken this bottle at its lowest price way back in 2008.

Often overlooked, this bottle of GT doubles in value
Often overlooked, this bottle of GT doubles in value

The often overlooked Glenturret saw a doubling in value for its 1980’s bottled 21-year-old crystal decanter. A little over a year ago it sold for £200 which now looks good value next to the £400 it fetched here.

Circling back to silent stills, a bottle of Banff 1976/2008 Connoisseurs Choice fetched £220 which is more than three times its 2010 price of £60. Again, from Gordon and MacPhail, a bottle of 1968/2006 Glenlochy hit £320, £100 ahead of its last UK sale price in 2013.

Declining supply pushes prices north
Declining supply pushes prices north

Not everything flew to heady new heights.

£250 ask. £75 paid!
£250 ask. £75 paid!

It’s always interesting when a completely new bottle hits the market, especially one with no obvious previous retail price history (gifts etc). A bottle of Hazelburn ‘Warehouse Dinner’ 17 yr old sat resolute with a stiff reserve of £250… There it sat for the duration…and remained unsold. I would imagine the reason for that is one sold a few days earlier for a scant £75, clearly setting pricing well below that required from the vendor.

Some of the well known past collectables seemed to languish further. Relatively recently, the Royal Lochnagar Roseisle Maltings bottle could command as much as £400 at auction. Recent years have seen the value of this bottle continually erode .

Roseisle Maltings Royal Lochnagar loses 66% of value
Roseisle Maltings Royal Lochnagar loses 66% of value

While the most recent bottle at this SWA sale had someones signature on it, it still only managed £135. That’s a 66% drop in value since 2011.

From our perspective, this clearly shows new and existing buyers are focused on different types of collectables.

Polarisation of the market continues…

All bottle images courtesy of Scotch Whisky Auctions.

Monthly Market Watch – April 2015

Values for high end collectables continue to increase as polarisation widens the gap between good and bad.

April set a new record for the highest number of collectable bottles traded on the open market. The previous record in December 2014 was 4,153. Last month’s 4,309 exceeded April 2014’s volume by an impressive 55.84% (2,765 bottles sold in April 2014). Year to date, one third of the way through 2015, the total number of bottles traded stands at 13,857, some 51.54% ahead of the 9,144 bottles sold in same period last year.

November and December 2014’s significant supply pushed values down, suggesting demand had finally succumbed to huge supply. The same expectation could be assumed with April’s record volumes; however, this couldn’t be further from the reality. Impressively, the vast majority of key indices moved up, in some cases significantly. On the flip-side of the value coin, less desirable bottles shifted further into red territory with record losses taking the negative indices to all-time lows.

The composite index April changes ranked in order of increase/decrease are –

1 – RWK Index – Karuizawa +26.26%

2 – RWB Index – Brora Index +8.05%

3 – RWM18 Index – Macallan 18 +3.80%

4 – RWM25 Index – Macallan 25 +2.55%

5 – RWVintage50 – Vintage 50 Index +2.32%

6 – RWIcon100 – Icon 100 Index +0.68%

7 – RWRMS Index – Rare Malts Selection Index +0.64%

8 – RWPE Index – Port Ellen 0.00%

Karuizawa Index buoyed by staggering increases
Karuizawa Index buoyed by vast increases for virtually all bottles

Staggering demand for Karuizawa yielded a record monthly increase of 26.26% with virtually every bottle sold on the open market hitting new record highs. In some cases the increases were vast. ‘Pourquoi fait il’, a 1980 vintage was previously selling for £1,350; one sold in April for £3,200. The sheer pace of these increases doesn’t feel sustainable, however, there would appear to be continued upside potential for those with a stake in this silent Japanese distillery.

The Brora index was buoyed by increases from the 2006 30 year old release and the 2008 25 year old. The 25 year old moved from a March value of £400 to £720 in April, an 80% jump. Virtually all other bottles remained static. The chart below shows the average price of a bottle of Brora from 2010 to the end of April 2015 (releases 1 – 7). 2014 saw the most significant movement in average prices with a 58.48% increase over 2013.

Average Brora prices 2010 - 2015 (releases 1 - 7)
Average Brora prices 2010 – 2015 (releases 1 – 7)

If we then take a look at the volume of Brora traded at auction, 2014 shows a clear dip in supply.

Volume of Brora traded at auction (releases 1 - 7)
Volume of Brora traded at auction (releases 1 – 7)

The first four months of 2015 suggests we’ll see roughly 45 bottles sold this year. This might also suggest a slower rate of pure value growth noting volume at that level would be a new record. If supply declines, we would expect to see a steeper increase in prices throughout the later months of 2015.

Putting aside the current static market for many more contemporary bottles of Macallan, both the 18 year olds and the 25 year olds made good progress with 3.80% and 2.55% increases respectively. With 2014 annual growth rates of 3.57% for the 18’s and 3.77% for the 25’s, April’s performance is rather more encouraging.

The benchmark Icon100 index just managed to post a gain for the month, closing up 0.68%. 27/100 bottles increased in value, 52/100 bottles remained static and 21/100 bottles decreased.

The best three performers in the month were the aforementioned Brora OB 25 year old (up 80%) followed by Macallan 1979 Gran Reserva (up 62.50%) and the Glenmorangie Culloden bottle (up 54.29%).

RWIcon100 Index top three performers April 2015
RWIcon100 Index top three performers April 2015

April’s worst performing three bottles in the Icon100 were the Family Silver from Glenglassaugh (down 29.41%), the 200th Anniversary Oban Managers Dram (down 35%) and the Dalmore 1985 vintage Distillery Exclusive (down 52.78%).

RWIcon100 Index worst three performers April 2015
RWIcon100 Index worst three performers April 2015

The negative indices all moved significantly further into the deep-south. The Neg1000, Neg250 and Neg100 indices tumbled by 2.05%, 3.80% and 2.57% respectively. These are among the most significant falls ever witnessed and take all three indices to new all-time lows. Polarisation and a steady decline in certain mass-volume brands are taking the brunt of the falls. Bruichladdich’s continuing broad-based slide in values marks them as the only distillery with two bottles in the bottom 10.

Record breaking falls and all-time lows for the negative indices
Record breaking falls and all-time lows for the negative indices

Rapid and continued polarisation aside, April should be viewed in particularly positive light. Record breaking supply has the very real potential to cool the market as was seen in the latter months of 2014.

It seems for now at least, for the right bottles, demand is set to out-pace whatever the market throws at it.

Bottle images courtesy of Scotch Whisky Auctions and Whiskyauctioneer.

Was Bonhams Plagued by Fake Macallan? Weekly Auction Watch – 25th March 2015

Over the years, I’ve been stopped by the police and breathalysed… maybe twice. Had I failed to give a sample of breath at the roadside, I would have committed an offence. I would have been banned from driving and no doubt given a hefty financial penalty too… The assumption of non-compliance is clearly guilt. I agree with this stance.

Working within an industry where a ‘normal’ day could be sampling up to 200 separate single casks of Scotch, I ensure whenever I get in a car, I’m in no way impinged by what I do for a living… AND before Mrs S. asks… No. I do not drink for a living!

So by virtue of non-compliance, guilt is assumed.

Bonhams recent whisky auction had a multitude of rare and old vintage Macallan in it. I had more than one tip-off that many of these were potentially fake.

Would they be auctioned? Would some of these potential fakes come to market from one of the most respected whisky auction houses?

Pleasingly, but equally concerning, on the day of the auction, many of these lots were withdrawn from sale……

Some of the many withdrawn lots
Are all these fake? Some of the many withdrawn lots

I wrote to Martin Green (Bonhams whisky specialist) who put me straight in touch with Bonhams PR department. The initial response received was “If questions are raised about any lot – for whatever reason – we always withdraw it as a matter of course for further investigation. That is what we did in this case”.

It appears there was just cause for concern and there were so many bottles withdrawn.

After further email correspondence with Bonhams, the quote – “We have conducted further investigations and as a result will not be offering the bottles in a future sale” seems to confirm, something was wrong. While there was no 100% concrete “these are fakes” quoted by Bonhams, by way of in effect not giving a sample of breath, does one assume guilt. By guilt, I mean do we assume these are fake? The non-inclusion of these bottles in future auctions shows Bonhams are clearly concerned about the provenance of these old Macallan’s.

What we also don’t know is if these bottles have been returned to the vendor? Will they see the light of auction again? Sent to a less thorough/less well known auction-house to be sold to unsuspecting buyers? Who knows but one thing’s certain, extreme vigilance is needed at the moment, especially when buying old Macallan bottles.

Putting the possible fake Macallan’s aside, Bonhams did have some great bottles feature in their recent sale.

19th century Linkwood
19th century Linkwood

The very first lot was an impressive old 1898 Linkwood. Selling for £2,000 it looked like good value for the buyer being such an ancient relic of a bottle.

A bottle of Rare Malts Selection Blair Athol hit a record £300, way past its 2008 price of just £80 and almost double its recent trading range of £150 – £160.

Dalmore’s recent good form continued with £600 being the new record for a bottle of 30 year old Stillman’s Dram. A previous high-price of £280 shows this as a significant new peak.

Much interest was seen at the top end of the market where a bottle of 50 year old Macallan Lalique sold for £17,000. The last time this sold in the UK (in 2010) it fetched £6,200. Five years later and it’s pushing almost three times that.

50 year old Macallan Lalique decanter (this one was real!)
50 year old Macallan Lalique decanter (this one was real!)

1968 appears to have been a good year for Balvenie. Two bottles of that vintage from cask number 7296 sold for £1,300 each. Back in 2008, these were selling for £260 per bottle.

Further cementing the collectors credentials of independently bottled silent stills, a Millburn Signatory ‘Silent Stills’ fetched £420, way over its previous best £280. Completing the trio of closed Inverness distilleries; bottles (again Signatory Silent Stills) from Glen Mhor and Glen Albyn both sold for £380 each. Not quite records for either bottle but right at the top of their current trading range.

Silent Stills Inverness trilogy. Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor and Millburn
Silent Stills Inverness trilogy. Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor and Millburn

These pages are usually the preserve of some of the rarest bottles of single malt, however, a real showstopper of a blend sold for an incredible £5,500. The early 20th century Johnnie Walker ‘Old Highland Whisky’ is a true piece of history and well deserving of its impressive selling price.

Early 20th century Johnnie Walker. A true piece of Scotch history
Early 20th century Johnnie Walker. A true piece of Scotch history

Again, the best performances were seen by the oldest bottles or bottles from silent distilleries… and as for those potentially fake Macallan’s I think vigilance is key.

Who knows if/when they will emerge on the open market again….

Until next time.

Slainte,

Andy

All images courtesy of Bonhams

Weekly Auction Watch – 10th March 2015

Yes, I blinked and yes, February was over. I blinked again and we’re on the 10th of March… I started this auction watch on the 2nd!

February was a month which will be favoured as exceptional in terms of the gains in value for collectable Scotch (and Japanese) whisky. With all but one major index showing positive movement, in some cases significantly, can this month take over where the short-but-sweet February left off?

March’s first auction, from Glasgow based Scotch Whisky Auctions, ended on the first of March and brought with it some incredible results.

Ardbeggeddon almost doubles in value
Ardbeggeddon almost doubles in value

Ardbeg’s current trend continued with rarer higher value bottles achieving new records. The Ardbeggeddon 1972 vintage set the pace when it sold for £1,550, hugely exceeding its 2014 price of £825. Another good result was seen by one of just 222 bottles from cask number 1924 (1999 vintage 10 year old) which sold for £430. These younger single cask offerings used to be available from the distillery but were sadly discontinued some years ago.

A set of Arran’s Icons achieved £600, nicely exceeding the £380 paid in 2013. For rarer bottles, Arran seems keen to continue its current bull-run.

Arran's Icons become the iconic Arran collectors set
Icons of Arran. Rapidly becoming an iconic collectors set too

While the bulk of their bottles remained depressed, Bruichladdich’s 1970 vintage (one of the first releases under the then new ownership in 2001) hit £560 way ahead of its 2010 low of £120.

Bunnahabhain’s 1968 vintage Auld Acquaintance peaked at a new record £800, £50 ahead of its previous best in January this year. In 2010 these were being picked up for £220; even further back and just £160 would have secured a bottle in 2008. Steep gains for this bottle are no real surprise… Probably Bunna’s finest?

Older vintages from Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain see upside
Older vintages from Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain see upside
Late 1970's bottled Dalmore
Late 1970’s bottled Dalmore

Dalmore’s older discontinued bottles and rarities performed admirably. A bottle of late 1970’s 12 year old (dumpy green bottle with ‘jigger’ cap, lacking its box) fetched £185, comfortably ahead of its 2013 previous best of £85. The 1985 vintage distillery exclusive sold for £360. In 2009 a bottle of this sold for just £55, with a previous record of £205 this is indeed significant movement.

£860 is almost double last years price for a bottle of 1972 39 year old Glendronach. A near doubling in value in just 12 months is incredible (£450 in March 2014). I suspect we’ll see a lot more Glendronach records over the coming months/years.

Older vintage Glenmorangie’s performed well with the (not that old to be fair) Margaux bottling in Perspex case selling for £420. In 2012 values for these had all but collapsed and bottles could be picked up for £90.

Lagavulin prices in general appeared buoyant. The first release 21 year old achieved £880, just slipping past its previous best of £840. A set of three older Lagavulins (the first release 21, the 25 and the 30) now costs a combined £2,500 at auction. With an original retail price of £430 for the three, their growth looks somewhat acceptable.

Lagavulin 21, 25 and 30 year old. 481.4% increase in value over retail prices
Lagavulin 21, 25 and 30 year old. 481.4% increase in value over retail prices

The blue box/label variant of Macallan’s 30 year old sailed up to a massive new record of £2,900. With a 2008 price of £260 this is now one of the few exclusive and illusive ‘ten-baggers’ ever seen on the open market. Conversely the Masters of Photography Leibovitz bottles (Skyline and Bar) hit their lowest prices to date. Skyline sold for £1,050 down from £1,550 in June last year and The Bar achieved £1,100 down from £1,300 in July.

A Macallan rose between two thorns... from a collectors perspective
A Macallan rose between two thorns… from a collectors perspective

Along with Diageo stablemate Lagavulin, Talisker had a great auction. A massive £380 sealed the bidding for the 2007 released distillery exclusive. I do see that as a spike, but an impressive one none the less. The 34 year old ‘in a boat’ achieved £1,650 up from £990 in 2012.

With simply too many other record prices to feature separately, many bottles from silent stills hit new highs. Lochside, Rosebank and St Magdalene all experienced increased demand, as did Port Ellen.

In December 2012 a full-set of Port Ellen official releases (1st release to 12th release incl.) would have cost £6,805 at auction. At this recent SWA sale, that price has risen to a heady £10,390, up 52.7% in a little over two years.

It would also be remiss of me to let this auction pass without mention of the mighty Japanese whisky-value-warlord, Karuizawa. I can’t reference every record but suffice to say virtually every bottle was a new high… Amazing results. I’m looking forward to seeing a 1964 or maybe even a 1960 hit the open market.

Finally, showing how important fill levels are to influencing values, a 1970’s bottled Tamdhu 8 year old with a good fill sold for £190. Exactly the same bottle but with a fill at upper mid shoulder achieved just £80.

£190 with a good fill level. Almost 60% less for a poor fill level
£190 with a good fill level. Almost 60% less for a poor fill level

Until next time.

Slainte,

Andy

Images courtesy of Scotch Whisky Auctions.