January Auction Results 2016
Undoubtedly the most fascinating aspect of our most recent auction was the rather beautiful collection of SMWS bottles up for grabs.
This is the second fairly sizeable collection of SMWS bottlings we’ve uncovered over the years – the last one being back in our Christmas sale in 2013/2014. So, almost exactly two years later, it’s interesting to see how the appetite for old SMWS bottlings remains potent and undimmed. A slew of record prices were achieved and there was fierce bidding competition throughout the whole sale, not just during the last hour of the auction.
The understandable highlights were the Brora 1976 61.1, the Ardbeg 1975 33.2 and the Lomond 1972 98.1. The last time we sold the Brora 61.1 was in our December 2014 sale, back then it fetched a healthy £1400. This time its price doubled to a remarkable £2800, this is quite impressive when you consider that the bottle was available on a retail site for £2750, once you include the buyer fees that takes it to £3276, that’s over £500 more than the retail price. This just goes to show the power that auctions hold when two very determined buyers end up slugging it out over a bottle they both desperately want.
Likewise the Ardbeg 33.2 sold for an impressive £2450, despite a poor condition label, once again proving that the value of so many of these older SMWS bottlings is very much in the number and the liquid. It also says a lot about the sheer scarcity of early SMWS Ardbeg bottlings.
The Lomond 1972 98.1 sold for £1800, perhaps slightly more predictable when you consider this is one of just two extant bottlings of this hyper-scarce single malt – both of which have been bottled by the SMWS. It was still another record price of this bottling though.
Despite the general slump in Karuizawa prices at the moment the Japanese SMWS bottlings showed remarkable buoyancy as well with some serious new records being achieved. The Karuizawa 132.1 hit £1450, the Yamazaki 119.1 £1400, the Yoichi 116.1 £1100 and the Hakushu 120.1 £1050. Another impressive result was the Laphroaig 1975 29.3 at £1000, this is doubly impressive when you consider that two of these bottles sold in one lot at Bonhams back in 2013 for £1000, and that price includes their rather hefty commission. The Lagavulin 1980 111.1 – another greatly sought after rarity – was also impressive with a final hammer price of £925.
Further down the auction, other SMWS.1 editions achieved impressive new records. St Magdalene 1975 49.1: £825. Banff 1978 67.1: £700. Glenugie 1978 99.1: £625. Old Fettercairn 1969 94.1: £625. Glenlochy 1976 62.1: £600. All in all, a super successful sale for old SMWS bottlings, the demand for these is huge at the moment so if you are sitting on a stash of old SMWS bottlings then it may well be worth getting in touch…
Elsewhere in the auction there were plenty other juicy results. A pair of 1981 18 year old Macallans hit an impressive £600 each, a pair of Macallan 30 year old Fine Oaks fetched £1250 each and a Glen Grant 1949 went for £775, further evidence of the increased interest in these wonderful old G&M vintage malts.
Perhaps some of the most astonishing results were for the Elements of Islay series, the Kilchoman sold for £430 and the Bunnahabhain sold for a fantastic £700! These were not expensive bottles upon release and there were not particularly limited either. It’s unlikely those kinds of prices are sustainable but it does go to show, if you’ve got bottles from a collectable series that haven’t seen auction for quite some time, selling one can sometimes yield an incredible return. Once again, probably worth having a rummage at home…
All in all this was an exciting and fascinating auction that provided an excellent barometer of market demand for rare and high quality old whisky – especially those bottlings from the SMWS. Unlike a lot of other bottlings a sizeable proportion of bottlings in this sale were bottles that haven’t seen auction for a long time. The resulting high prices and consistent competition throughout the week of the sale show that – for the right bottles – there continues to be significant market demand.