March Auction Highlights 2022
Welcome to our March 2022 Whisky-Online Auction Highlights! There’s plenty to tell you about, with amazing drams from Brora, Port Ellen, Springbank, Royal Brackla and many more, so we’d best crack on.
First off, though, if you haven’t read Monday’s post yet, check it out now - there’s a full run of United Distillers/Diageo Manager’s Dram bottles from 1988-2013 in this month’s auction! These marvellous whiskies are never available to the public and include many magnificent classics from distilleries including Clynelish, Glen Elgin, Blair Athol, Oban and Caol Ila - you can browse the full rundown here.
As ever there’s some cracking Macallans old and new in this month’s auction. Recent highlights include Macallan Estate, Macallan Edition No.3, Macallan Ruby, Macallan 30-Year-Old Sherry Oak and Macallan 30-Year-Old Fine Oak, while older Macallans up for grabs this month include the likes of the Macallan 1876 Replica, several Macallan Travel Series, 1980s Macallan 12-Year-Old, 1990s Macallan 10-Year-Old 100-Proof, various vintages of Macallan 18-Year-Old, and a non-vintage Macallan 25-Year-Old Anniversary Malt.
The star of the Macallan show this month, though, has to be this beautiful Macallan 1951 bottled under licence by Campbell, Hope & King sometime in the early to mid-1960s. With its perfect level and otherwise remarkable condition for its age, bidding for this bottle will be fierce.
There’s also some fantastic indie Macallans this month, too, including Gordon & MacPhail’s Macallan 1950 Speymalt 55-Year-Old bottled from a refill sherry butt in 2006 and Signatory’s Macallan 1988 20-Year-Old, along with Duncan Taylor’s 2013 bottling of Macallan Octave 1997 15-Year-Old, which spent 9 months finishing in one of the company’s special Octave sherry casks and Douglas Laing’s Macallan 1977 29-Year-Old. Finally, the superb Crabbie 1988 30-Year-Old and Prometheus 1988 28-Year-Old remain the best value for canny Macallan fans.
As ever, this is just a small selection of this month’s Macallan - click here to check out all the Macallan in the sale.
We’ve got some wonderful old and new Islay drams this month. Bowmore fans will be chasing the rare Bowmore Claret and Bowmore 1984, the latter a limited edition of 2208 bottles released in 2000. The real Bowmore action, however, will be over another Bowmore released around the same time as the 1984 - this superb Bowmore 1972 27-Year-Old, a marriage of three ex-bourbon casks that yielded just 466 bottles at 53.3%; and the stunning Berry Bros Pure Single Malt 1961 bottled in 1973 - it doesn’t say Bowmore on the label but when you taste it, it couldn’t be anything else.
For Ardbeg fanciers, meanwhile, there’s the latest Ardbeg Committee bottling, Ardbeg Fermutation, a 13-year-old Ardbeg 2007 from a batch of wash that underwent a particularly long, uncontrolled natural fermentation occasioned by a broken boiler. There’s also a couple of bottles of Ardbeg 17-Year-Old, the 2008 bottling of the classic Ardbeg 1990 Airigh Nam Beist, Serendipity 12-Year-Old and Ian Macleod’s Ardbeg 1998 20-Year-Old Chieftain’s from 2019. You can check out all of this month’s Ardbegs here.
Elsewhere, there’s the fabulous Port Ellen Maltings 21-Year-Old and a run of the first eight Port Ellen Special Releases, and staying on the south coast there’s also a 1980s Laphroaig 15-Year-Old, Mackillop’s cask strength Laphroaig 1990-2010, Signatory’s Laphroaig 1995 16-Year-Old and Murray McDavid’s classic Leapfrog 1988 10-Year-Old, while Lagavulin fans will be tussling over last year’s Lagavulin 11-Year-Old Offerman Guinness Cask Finish, the port cask finished Lagavulin 13-Year-Old Islay Festival 2021 and the rare classic cask strength Syndicate’s Lagavulin 15-Year-Old.
Rounding up this month’s miscellaneous Islay highlights there’s the marvellous old late 1990s bottling Bunnahabhain 1968 Family Silver, Bruichladdich PC6, the excellent Bladnoch Forum Caol Ila 1983 25-Year-Old and the beautifully intense Rare Malts Caol Ila 1978 23-Year-Old.
Lots of lovely bottles for the Jerez fanciers this month. Recent bottlings include the first fill Oloroso cask Daftmill 2009 Single Cask 029, Glenfarclas 1989-2017 Family Casks and Signatory’s remarkably dark Benriach 2000 20-Year-Old.
Earlier bottles, meanwhile, include a stunning old edition of Yamazaki 25-Year-Old, the Oloroso sherry-matured Isle of Jura 1973 30-Year-Old, Douglas Laing’s Brora 1983 22-Year-Old and Ben Nevis 1968 37-Year-Old, the outrageously dark Benriach 1970 38-Year-Old finished in a Pedro Ximenez sherry cask, First Cask’s Glen Grant 1973 27-Year-Old and a lovely 1990s Glendronach 15-Year-Old.
There’s also several famous sherry monsters from the Manager’s Dram series in this auction, including legendary drams from Caol Ila, Oban, Glen Elgin and Blair Athol…
… which is a great intro into our customary dig into the annals of great whiskies bottled back in the day by Diageo and its predecessors UDV and United Distillers! Highlights this month include Glen Elgin 19-Year-Old Centenary bottled in 2000 at a whopping 60%, the ultra-rare Speyburn 12-Year-Old Flora & Fauna, and a bunch of top class Rare Malts editions from the likes of St. Magdalene, Brora, Rosebank and Royal Lochnagar.
The top highlight in this section, though, has to be the amazing Royal Brackla 1924 60-Year-Old, which has a remarkable story. A small number of 1924 vintage Royal Brackla casks were discovered unexpectedly by DCL at a bonded warehouse in 1984, and were quickly bottled before the whisky went under strength, with the stock kept aside until a suitable occasion presented itself. Royal Brackla’s licensee at the time was the DCL subsidiary John Bisset, which no longer had bottling facilities, so the task of bottling the Brackla was passed to another DCL subsidiary, Buchanan’s.
Later, two separate versions of this whisky appeared: In 1986, 60 crystal decanters of Royal Brackla 60-year-old were released in Japan to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Emperor Hirohito’s accession to the throne; the remaining stock of 62 bottles, for which Buchanan’s had used standard Black & White bottles, was retained and given to staff and visiting bigwigs a few years later in 1991 to mark the reopening of the Royal Brackla distillery, which had been in mothballs since 1985.
This bottle is one of the latter, and came from the same vendor as the Manager’s Drams in this month’s auction, who also put in 12 miniatures of Royal Brackla Special Reserve containing the same Royal Brackla 1924 60-year-old whisky, which they hand-labelled themselves at Diageo.
Favourites and Curios
There’s some lovely old bottles from two of our favourite distilleries in this month’s auction: Highland Park and Springbank. Orcadian classics this month include Highland Park 12-Year-Old Eunson’s Legacy and 1990s Highland Park 25-Year-Old 53.5% in the famous dumpy bottles, plus the slightly later tall bottle Highland Park 18-Year-Old, one of the greatest ever OB 18-year-olds from any distillery.
Springbank, meanwhile, are very well represented with a couple of old bottles of enticingly dark Springbank 15-Year-Old, the splendid Springbank 32-Year-Old, a 1990s wooden box Springbank 30-Year-Old and several old tall bottles of Springbank 21-Year-Old from the late 1990s and early 2000s. There’s also the magnificent Cadenhead’s Springbank 1980 from the white label Cask Strength series.
Other interesting or unusual bottles to look out for this month include the Glenmorangie Original 1974-1999, Ben Nevis 1962 40-Year-Old, the Caperdonich 1972 34-Year-Old from Duncan Taylor’s rare Lonach series and a trio of very tempting indie bottlings from closed Diageo distilleries: Signatory’s Banff 1976 23-Year-Old, Gordon & MacPhail’s Rare Old Convalmore 1975-2015, and SDL’s Rosebank 21-Year-Old The Roses Unity, although thankfully of course the latter will shortly reopen under new owners Ian Macleod.
Away from single malts, we’ve got some great blended Scotch whiskies this month such as Whyte & Mackay’s 50-Year-Old 175th Anniversary Bottling (originally given away to competition winners in 2019) and this beautiful 1950s Black Bottle blend. And away from whisky altogether there’s this marvellous Very Special Rum 12-Year-Old, a 100-proof blend of Guyanese and Jamaican rums bottled in 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
That's it for this month - Good Luck and Happy Dramming!