Extended Christmas Auction Highlights 2023
First things first, we’d like to take this opportunity to send all of our clients our heartfelt Thanks for choosing us throughout 2023, along with our very Best Wishes for the holiday period and a fruitful and prosperous Happy New Year 2024 to you all!
Welcome to our special extended Christmas Auction, with the longer two week running time (20th December-3rd January) which will see us all the way through Christmas 2023 and into New Year 2024. For us whisky nerds, of course, this Christmas Auction ensures a fortnight of festive fun on the auction site, with many of our customers admitting checking their Watchlists several times a day during James Bond repeats and browsing through the latest bids on their favourite categories for hours at a time while the kids are watching Bluey.
Having said all that, this really is a bumper auction and there’s so many Highlights to tell you about, so we’d best crack on sharpish.
Springbank is one of our very favourite distilleries, so we were super-excited to pick up a superb collection of 1980s & 1990s bottlings recently. There’s a roll-call of legendary drams here, with no fewer than four of the iconic 1990s Springbank Local Barley 1966 bottlings coming under the hammer.
These Local Barley bottlings are all single casks from the 1966 vintage, with three ex-bourbon sister casks bottled in 1997/8 as 31-year-old and 32-year-olds and one of the phenomenal sherry cask releases bottled as a 24-year-old in 1990 in the first run of the Local Barley series. These stunning drams have to be experienced to be believed.
Other superb Springbanks from this fantastic collection include a splendid 1980s Springbank 12-year-old 100-Proof, the rare 1990s Springbank 25-year-old and full sets of both the Springbank Millennium Editions and their respective miniatures.
The Millennium Editions were released twice a year, beginning with Springbank 25-year-old in September 1998 and then followed by the 30-year-old in March 1999, the 35-year-old in September 1999 and so on until the 50-year-old completed the set in March 2001. Only 580 of the Millennium sets were ever made and full sets are very rare on the market now.
The Springbank Millennium miniature sets were only offered to customers who collected all six of the special leaflets included with the full-size bottles and are consequently even rarer than the full-size bottles nowadays - in fact this is only the third time in a decade that we’ve had one of these sets in our auction - who knows when they’ll show up again.
There’s also a lovely late 1960s bottle of Cardhu 8-year-old, 1970s/80s official editions from Blair Athol and Talisker, plenty of great Manager’s Drams including special bottlings from Clynelish, Talisker and Oban, and some lovely limited one-offs like the Glen Elgin Centenary 19-year-old and Caol Ila’s 20-year-old 150th Anniversary edition.
There’s plenty of great Macallan coming under the hammer this month too, as always. Current-era highlights include several recent releases of Macallan Rare Cask, one of the Macallan James Bond 60th Anniversary bottlings, the 2017 edition of Macallan 15-year-old Gran Reserva, 2021’s Macallan 30-year-old Double Cask and a couple of rare decanters - 2018’s Macallan M Decanter and the Macallan Lalique No.6.
Classic old school Macallans this month, meanwhile, include Royal Wedding editions for both Charles & Di and William & Kate, plus a lovely old 1958 Macallan 80 Proof (45.7%) bottled in the 1970s by Campbell, Hope & King and the usual smorgasbord of old and new 18-year-old, 25-year-old and 30-year-old editions.
Elsewhere, there’s some very nice old prestige Glenmorangie editions this month including a handful of bottles of the distillery’s 150th Anniversary Glenmorangie 1971 bottled in 1993, plus rare Glenmorangie 30-year-old Malaga and Oloroso Sherry Cask editions, Glenmorangie 1975 Tain L’Hermitage and the rare Glenmorangie 1993 Truffle Oak Reserve bottled in 2005.
Sherryheads are well catered for with a pair of wonderful Glendronach 1968 and 1976 vintages bottled in the 1990s and some fabulous old Glenfarclas including the rare 150th Anniversary bottling from 1986.
Moving to Islay and there’s some hard to find old Islay Festival official bottlings from Laphroaig, Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Octomore and Lagavulin plus a very rare Bowmore 1968 bottled in 2000 to mark the 50th Anniversary of the original Stanley P. Morrison company.
We’ve got a fantastic selection of great indie bottlings this month. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) features heavily, as does a remarkable selection of rare and very collectable miniatures bottled by Signatory Vintage.
First of all, though, in pride of place for this month’s auction we have this amazing 1885 Irish Whiskey, imported and bottled most likely in the 1890s by famous New York import company M. E. Bellows' Son from the highly familiar-sounding Gordon & Co. Distillers in London, who were wine & spirit merchants and whisky blenders before eventually deciding to concentrate entirely on their gin.
The original Bellows company was set up in New York in 1850 by Charles Bellows, later joined by his brother Theodore. Charles Bellows’ excessively lavish lifestyle led to a bankruptcy in the late 1870s, and in order to continue in business he was forced to set up a new company in his wife Mary’s name: this was M. E. Bellows Co. which became M. E. Bellows’ Son around the early 1890s following Charles Bellows’ death.
Despite decades of family strife and subsequent legal wrangling Charles Bellows’ descendants continued to bottle whiskies and other spirits, and the Bellows brand name remained important in the US drinks market throughout the 20th century, appearing on a famous 1930s Longmorn-Glenlivet 12-year-old bottled in the aftermath of Prohibition and the proprietary brands Bellows Partners Choice and Bellows Club Bourbon.
Remarkably, the Bellows brand still exists today as a range of lower shelf spirits including bourbon, vodka, gin and rum. This fabulous old Bellows import vintage 1885 Irish Whiskey is one of our most exciting finds this year and we can’t wait to see how it does in the sale.
Turning reluctantly to whiskies bottled in living memory, and we’ll start with a quick rundown of highlights from a splendid collection of SMWS bottlings in this month’s sale - there are some really wonderful plums to be picked, including Glen Spey 1978 SMWS 80.1, the Society’s first ever Glen Spey, and several second or third bottlings from great distilleries such as Ben Nevis 1977 SMWS 78.2, Teaninich 1980 SMWS 59.2, Glen Garioch 1982 SMWS 19.3 and Lagavulin 1984 SMWS 111.3.
Other SMWS highlights include the likes of Longmorn 1976 SMWS 7.11 and Glenturret 1969 SMWS 16.5, and there’s several great low-number bottlings of 1970s vintage single casks from Bunnahabhain and Dalmore alongside later vintages from Macallan, Longrow, and Scapa among others.
The Signatory Vintage minis in this auction, meanwhile, are an absolutely stunning selection, one of the most exciting collections we’ve ever seen from this bottler. A tiny grab of choice highlights includes 1950s Glenfarclas, 1960s vintages from Springbank, Ardbeg, Longmorn, Highland Park and a trio of legendary Laphroaigs, plus 1970s vintages from Caol Ila and Bowmore and 1980s Glendronach.
There’s also full size Signatory bottlings of Clynelish (Brora) 1965 and Macallan 1968, and around 30 mixed lots of assorted Signatory minis - do check these out as there are plenty of really great drams we haven’t had room to mention. Just to emphasise the point, the above lists include only open distilleries - be assured that we’ll revisit both the SMWS and this remarkable Signatory mini collection later on in the Lost Distilleries section.
Miscellaneous indie bottlings to watch out for this month include a fantastic Ardbeg 17-year-old bottled at 80 imperial proof by Cadenhead’s before 1977 (and therefore distilled no later than 1960), plus Gordon & MacPhail’s very rare Book of Kells Glenburgie 1968 20-year-old, a G&M Glen Grant 1964 bottled in 2006, and a Smith’s Glenlivet 1950 bottled in the 1990s.
The fantastic trove of SMWS bottles and Signatory Vintage miniatures have plenty of great examples in this section. Notable Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottlings from Lost Distilleries in this month’s sale include Glen Esk (Hillside) 1981 SMWS 86.4, Glenlochy 1979 SMWS 62.2, Inverleven 1968 SMWS 20.9, Millburn 1979 SMWS 87.2, Pittyvaich 1976 SMWS 90.3, and Rosebank 1990 SMWS 25.40.
The Signatory collection, meanwhile, includes a full size bottle of Dumbarton 1961 and the miniatures feature unicorn highlights like Lochside 1959, Killyloch 1972 and Glen Flagler 1970, plus 1960s vintages of Caperdonich and Glen Mhor, 1960s-’80s vintages of Rosebank and wonderful 1970s drams from rarely-seen gems like Inverleven, Dallas Dhu, Banff, Imperial, North British and Glenury. We also have both 1970s and 1980s vintages of Port Ellen and Brora and other 1980s gems from Glenugie, Glen Albyn, Convalmore, Coleburn, Littlemill and many more.
Elsewhere there’s Duncan Taylor’s Caperdonich 1968 37-year-old bottled for the Lonach series in 2006 and some great Gordon & MacPhail bottlings from lost distilleries including a Rare Old Glenlochy 1968-2006, Connoisseurs Choice Port Ellen 1979 from 1994 and a 1990s Glen Mhor 15-year-old, while Cadenhead’s weigh in with an Imperial 1979 bottled in 1993 and a mouthwatering Glenugie 1978 bottled in 1997 at a hefty 58.3%.
As ever we have some superb Single Cask bottlings for you this month. We’ll start with official bottlings, and there’s some real beauties including a Cellar Collection Glenlivet 1964 bottled as a 40-year-old in 2004, Balvenie 1977 15-year-old bottled in 1994, and a big haul of over thirty Glenfarclas Family Casks featuring vintages going back to 1960.
Indie single casks are abundant too, with highlights including Cadenhead’s Millennium bottling of Benrinnes 1963 36-year-old, heavily sherried private bottlings of Port Charlotte 16-year-old and Ledaig 1972 and some great stuff from Douglas Laing including a 1972 Brora 30-year-old bottled for The Whisky Shop, a 40-year-old Glenallachie 1972 Director’s Cut bottled in 2012 and a rare indie Glenlivet 1969 bottled in 2002 for the Old & Rare Platinum series.
Finally, we also have some nice First Cask bottlings of 1970s and 1980s vintages from the likes of Glenlivet, Caol Ila, Inchgower and Teaninich, and some fantastic indie Highland Park, including a pair of presentation sets of Highland Park 1988 bottled in 1998/9 by Signatory Vintage for their 10th Anniversary and the Millennium respectively, plus Adelphi’s Highland Park 1973 bottled in 1996 and two of the famous single cask Highland Park 1973 ‘Dragon’ bottlings for Robertson’s of Kirkwall.
That’s it for this month’s Christmas Auction Highlights - Happy Holidays everyone, Good Luck and Happy Bidding!