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August Whisky Auction Highlights 2023

2023, Auction Highlights -

August Whisky Auction Highlights 2023

Welcome to our August 2023 Whisky Auction Highlights! There’s some truly delightful drams coming under the hammer this month, with gems from Glenfarclas, Balblair, Glendronach, Port Ellen and many more, so we’d best get cracking.

Monthly Macallans

As is customary, we’ll start with Macallan, with classics old and new. Interesting recent releases from the Speyside behemoth in this month’s sale include the Hogmanay-themed Macallan A Night on Earth, an ongoing collaboration with artist Erica Dorn, plus several Macallan Classic Cut releases from 2020-2022. 

We also have a bottle of Macallan Genesis, released in 2018 to celebrate the opening of Macallan’s massive new distillery, plus Macallan Edition 1 from 2015, the travel retail exclusive Macallan Lumina from 2017, various Macallan Folio and Harmony bottles and some recent sherried Macallans including the 2022 releases of Macallan Sherry Cask 18-year-old and 25-year-old.

Golden era Macallans this month include all-time classics like Macallan 1974 25-year-old Anniversary Edition, and there’s also a few fascinating unusual OBs and indie Macallans this month. Officially-bottled curios include a special edition of Macallan 1977 18-year-old bottled in the 1990s for HBOS’s restoration of their corporate offices on The Mound in Edinburgh, and a rare 1980s litre bottle of Macallan 12-year-old bottled for the British Army & Navy’s overseas NAAFI stores.

Great indie Macallans in this month’s whisky auction, meanwhile, include a fascinating Scotch Malt Whisky Society Macallan 1980 9-year-old (SMWS 24.13) bottled in 1990 at its monstrous cask strength of 64.9%, Duncan Taylor’s sumptuous Macallan 1968 37-year-old - just 94 bottles of this ever existed - and that rarest of beasts, a Macallan we’ve never had before: a Hart Brothers Macallan 1971 25-year-old bottled privately in the mid-1990s for the C&D Insulation company.

As ever, this is just a smidgin of all the fantastic Macallans in this month’s sale - check out all our Macallan here.

Islay Magic

Let’s get stuck into our monthly treasure hunt for jewels from the magic isle. There’s some recent special editions from Ardbeg including Ardcore, Fermutation, Hypernova and Scorch, though aficionados of the distillery’s earlier work will be elsewhere chasing the classic Ardbeg 1978-1997 and a very early edition of Ardbeg 17-year-old bottled in 1997.

Staying on the south coast, Lagavulin fans will be keeping a close eye on the first edition Lagavulin 1979-1997 Distillers Edition and 2010’s Special Release cask strength Lagavulin 12-year-old, while for the Laphroaig fans there’s the classic Laphroaig 30-year-old from the turn of the century and the more recent Laphroaig Cairdeas Pedro Ximinez Finish bottled for the Islay Festival 2021.

There's some fascinating bottlings of Port Ellen this month, with a trio of long-aged Douglas Laing / Hunter Laing Port Ellens and some wonderful teenage indie Port Ellens from The Dram Good Whisky Co., Hart Brothers and Royal Mile Whiskies.

Moving to the centre of the island, we have a pair of lovely old dumpy litre bottles of 1980s Bowmore 12-year-old, a trio of the recent Bowmore Aston Martin editions and a very rare and highly sought-after sherry cask Bowmore 1972 16-year-old bottled by the distillery in the late 1980s for the Prestonfield House hotel - this will be a fiercely contested dram.

Out west there’s Bruichladdich’s 21-year-old Cask Strength edition bottled in 1994 and the timeless Enlightenment 1984 18-year-old, one of the best bottlings released in the early days after Murray McDavid’s takeover and still the gold standard for beautiful presentation, with a magnificently chunky wooden box and a fantastic reprint of the 18th century text The Practical Distiller.

Miscellaneous Islay goodies this month include the fabulous Bunnahabhain 1966 36-year-old bottled by Duncan Taylor in 2003, a mahogany-coloured Caol Ila 2008 13-year-old from Alistair Walker’s Infrequent Flyers series, and a wonderful old Bulloch Lade OB Caol Ila 12-year-old.  As ever, there’s something for every Islay whisky fan in this month’s sale - check out all our Islay whisky here.

Sherried Treasure

Some absolutely superb sherried drams are coming under the hammer this month, with classics old and new to suit all budgets. 

Modern sherry-matured gems include the 2015 release of Glengoyne 25-year-old Harris Family Reserve, plus the first batch of Glenallachie 21-year-old - a limited edition bottled from Pedro Ximenez casks at full cask strength in 2020 - and several splendid Glendronachs including the all-time classic Glendronach 33-year-old bottled in 2004 and the more recent Glendronach 1991 25-year-old Kingsman Reserve.

Older bottlings of sherry-matured whisky this month include the outrageously dark Glen Grant 1964-2000 Millennium bottling by Cadenhead's, a very tempting early Aberlour A’bunadh Batch 13 from back in 2005 when A’bunadh was really hitting its stride, and the highly sought after Jura 1988-2007 Delme-Evans, matured in a single Gonzalez-Byass Oloroso sherry cask and still almost 60% in strength at 18 years old.

We also have a superb sherry-finished Ben Nevis 1984 25-year-old single cask and the glorious old refill sherry cask Balblair 1966 38-year-old - this should be a bucket list dram for every sherryhead, as should Signatory Vintage’s beautiful 10th Anniversary single cask Glenfarclas 1958-1998 40-year-old released in 1998.

Miscellaneous sherried indie bottlings include Carn Mor’s PX sherried Glen Elgin 2007 13-year-old, a trio of young sherried drams from Caol Ila, Blair Athol and Glenallachie bottled by Signatory in 2021, and some great Cadenhead’s vintages, including Glen Grant 1964 36-year-old, Bunnahabhain 1976 39-year-old and a tantalisingly dark Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting Undisclosed Speyside 2003 finished for three years in a PX cask before bottling in 2022.

Favourites & Curios

We have some lovely old classics this month, with the gold ceramic Glenturret 1966 21-year-old rubbing shoulders with Highland Park 1967-1991, Glenfiddich 1963 Private Reserve and some splendid old Special Releases from Brora, Port Ellen, Talisker and Dalwhinnie.

There's lots of glorious old Cadenhead's bottlings this month too, including the beautiful old dumpy bottles of Glen Albyn 1963 15-year-old and Teaninich 1957 22-year-old, both bottled at the end of the 1970s and the latter being the earliest known vintage of Teaninich and a superstar dram to boot. A great Cadenhead's curio too is the Cadenhead's 7-Star Special Pure Malt - a blended malt made with seven single malts aged 12 to 20 years old and bottled at 85 Imperial proof (48.6%). We're already jealous of whoever wins that one...

Miscellaneous faves this month also include the Flora & Fauna Cask Strength Rosebank 1981-1997, the stunning precursor to the Rare Malt Rosebanks and much harder to find now, plus the delicious Balblair 1979-2007, a wooden longboat with all four bottlings from the Highland Park Valhalla Collection, Tomatin’s magnificent 1977-2015 36-year-old, Glenrothes 40-year-old (bottled 2019) and Gordon & MacPhail’s St. Magdalene 1964 18-year-old.

Over in Curio Corner, meanwhile sits a fascinating Glenfarclas distilled in 1970. Bourbon cask Glenfarclas is uncommon; indie Glenfarclas is rarer still - so logically this 38-year-old indie bourbon cask Glenfarclas bottled at 46% by German importers Simon Brown Traders in 2008 must be one of the rarest Glenfarcli we’ve ever had! 

Other interesting curios this month include a pair of Longrow and Springbank new make spirits bottled by Cadenhead’s in the 1990s as Triple S, the famous Ben Nevis 1996 10-year-old Forgotten Bottling single cask and a very rare Benromach 1969 39-year-old - one of only 40 bottles released in 2009 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnson’s first ever solo circumnavigation of the globe, and Gordon & MacPhail’s Queen’s Award for international exports.

Elsewhere, there’s lots of great stuff from new and newish distilleries this month. Interesting bottles from the new wave of Scottish distilleries include the Inaugural Release from the new Glenwyvis distillery, Duncan Taylor’s Dalmunach 2016 5-year-old finished in a sherry octave cask, several Annandale official single casks and North Star’s Annandale 2015 7-year-old bottled from a single Oloroso sherry butt.

We’ve also got a handful of high quality Ardnamurchans including the official Ardnamurchan Inaugural Release, a first fill bourbon barrel North Star Ardnamurchan 2015 and the contrasting Ardnamurchan 2015 7-year-old from Little Brown Dog, a peated Ardnamurchan bottled from a single refill sherry hogshead in tribute to the passing of Banksy, the original Little Brown Dog for whom the company was named.

Other highlights from new distilleries include a slew of Daftmill including the recent Daftmill 15-year-old, several Nc’Neans including the limited edition Quiet Rebels Annabel (the first release in the Quiet Rebels series), a nice selection of Isle of Raasay releases including the very rare R-01, and the rare and historic Chain Pier Inaugural Release, the first (and possibly last) bottling from the experimental mini-distillery that Crabbie used for 13 months while the construction of their Bonnington distillery was delayed - this release was the first new single malt whisky made in Edinburgh for over a century.

Non-Scottish new distilleries are well represented too, with lots of interesting bottles from the likes of Bimber, Copper Rivet, The Lakes and Cotswolds distillery. 

Away from malt whisky there’s plenty of top class single grain whiskies in this month’s sale, including Dead Whisky Society’s famous 2011 bottlings of Caledonian 1976 and Cambus 1983.  There’s also Douglas Laing’s XOP Cambus 1976 45-year-old and some Girvan and Invergordon from Cadenhead’s.

Blended whisky fans, meanwhile, will be tussling over some splendid Johnnie Walkers this month, with the rare Johnnie Walker Excelsior bottled for Asian markets in 1997, plus Johnnie Walker Directors Blend 2011 and a special edition Johnnie Walker King George V bottled in 2014 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Royal Warrant granted to John Walker & Sons in 1934.

Away from Scotland there’s some great Irish whiskeys in this month’s sale including several Midleton Very Rare, the 2022 release of Jameson 18-year-old, and great indie Irish drams from Darkness, Teeling and Cadenhead’s alongside newcomers The Craft Irish Whiskey Company’s Brollach 2001 20-year-old. We’ve also got some nice old collectable Jack Daniel’s bottlings and some interesting Chichibu, Miyagikyo and Yamazaki from Japan.

In non-whisky highlights, there’s some lovely old bottles of champagne and cognac, with my favourite being the Hennessy Cognac Library, a simple but beautiful decanter first released in 1994 in a box disguised as a pair of hardback books. For the Rum fans, meanwhile, there’s the sought-after Alfred Lamb’s 1949 Special Reserve Jamaican Rum and other gems from Foursquare, Caroni and St. Lucia.

That's it for this brief Auction Highlights round-up - check out the full auction here. Good Luck, and Happy Bidding!

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