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May Whisky Auction Highlights 2024

2024, Auction Highlights -

May Whisky Auction Highlights 2024

Welcome to our May 2024 Whisky-Online Auction! We've got some absolute crackers for you this month from the likes of Glendronach, Brora, Springbank and Clynelish, so let's crack on.

First up, though, let's start with a bang - we've got a cask of Ben Nevis coming under the hammer! Not only that, this is a hogshead of the famous 1996 vintage from the distillery, recognised as one of the greatest vintages in the last few decades and now reaching a peak of maturity.

Ben Nevis Cask 406 was a hogshead cask originally charged with 247 bulk litres at 63.6% and was regauged in May 2024, at which time it contained 138.325 bulk litres at a strength of 48.9%. This oily, spicy, fabulously fruity Ben Nevis 1996 is fully mature now but could stand a few years more in the cask if desired.

Official Bottlings

Let’s start with some of the classic official bottlings in this month’s whisky auction. There’s the historic Glenmorangie 1978 Tain L’Hermitage, one of the breakthrough prestige wine-finished whiskies from 1997, 1960s Talisker 8-year-old, the limited edition version of Yamazaki 18-year-old, which appeared about a decade ago as the Japanese whisky drought was gathering speed, and the all-time classic sherried cask strength Springbank 12-year-old 100 Proof from the 1980s, a very rare UK variant believed in some quarters to be a sister bottling to the stunning Samaroli edition as the front label is exactly the same and the strength is 57.1% rather than Springbank’s more usual 57%.

There’s also a very rare 1980s Springbank 15-year-old in the sought-after pear-shaped bottle, a complex, fruity dram distilled most likely in the late 1960s or early 1970s; a more recent Springbank 21-year-old bottled circa 2000, and lots of choice bottles of Hazelburn and Longrow.

Let’s move over to Speyside, where Macallan have some delightful drams in the sale. Recent bottlings include Macallan Rare Cask, Macallan Rare Cask Black and Macallan Concept No.2, and of course there’s a nice selection of golden era bottlings including the superb Macallan 1958-1984 25-year-old Anniversary Selection and some great old Macallan 18-year-olds from vintages going back to 1978.

There’s also a fantastic collection of great drams from Balvenie this month, with highlights including an early bottle of Balvenie 21-year-old Port Wood, 2013’s Balvenie 25-year-old Triple Cask and the more recent Balvenie 21-year-old Madeira Cask.

Over on Islay we’ve got some all time classics including Ardbeg 25-year-old Lord of the Isles, Bowmore Bicentenary, a wonderful 1960s Sherriff’s Bowmore, some very tempting 1980s Laphroaig 10-year-olds and a pair of more recent official 40-year-old editions from Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain

The latter are also very well-represented by the wonderful Bunnahabhain 1963 33-year-old from 1997 and the slightly later Bunnahabhain 1967 35-year-old single cask bottling released in 2002. There’s also the small matter of the extraordinary Lagavulin 1977 25-year-old from 2002’s Special Releases and a slew of excellent Jazz Festival and Lagavulin distillery exclusive bottlings too.

Miscellaneous prestige official bottlings in this month’s whisky auction include Aberfeldy 28-year-old Limited Release, Glendronach 1991 25-year-old Kingsman Edition, Tomatin 1972 41-year-old Warehouse 6 Presentation Set and some great old vintages of Midleton Very Rare.

Finally for this section we should mention Penderyn’s First Release from 2004 and some very interesting drams from some of Scotland’s newer distilleries, with the likes of Annandale, Daftmill, Raasay, Ardnamurchan, Nc’Nean, Wolfburn and Torabhaig all represented by top class official bottlings.

Independent Bottlings

We have a fantastic selection from some of Scotland’s newer independent bottlers this month. North Star Spirits are one of the best of the new breed and there’s some real gems from this Glasgow outfit in this month's sale. Highlights include a Tobermory 1995 26-year-old, a 26-year-old Glenrothes 1996 and that rarest of rarities - independent Dalwhinnie, represented here by a couple of different casks from the 2008 vintage.

Moving towards Falkirk, we also have some great bottlings from Alistair Walker Whisky Co., whose Infrequent Flyers have really shot to mainstream attention in the last few years. This month’s Infrequent Flyer highlights include gems from Craigellachie and Miltonduff, a Ledaig 2010, and a pair of contrasting ‘secret’ Undisclosed Orkney single casks from the 2003 vintage.

Miscellaneous indie treats this month include a 7-year-old Ardnamurchan from maverick funsters Little Brown Dog, Gordon & MacPhail’s Glenrothes 1961-1996 and the glorious G&M Mortlach 1936 35-year-old, a black label Connoisseurs Choice edition bottled in the early 1970s for Turin-based Italian import firm Pinerolo.

Closed Distilleries

There’s so much great stuff from Scotland’s lost distilleries this month. We’ll start with the magnificent Brora 40-year-old (yes, we know Brora is open again, but this whisky was distilled at the one that closed...), and there’s also a pair of single cask 1982 Broras from the indies, with Douglas Laing’s Brora 1982 20-year-old and Ian Macleod’s Chieftain's Brora 1982 20-year-old. Both of the latter were from sherry casks bottled in 2002 and 2003, with the Chieftain’s bottling in particular being spectacularly dark.

Staying with official bottlings, there’s a pair of OB Rosebank 1981 releases, with the 20-year-old Rare Malts Edition from 2002 (bottled at a whopping 62.3%) and the Special Releases 25-year-old from a few years later in 2007. These would make a great comparative tasting, as the 25-year-old shows some noticeable sherry influence. Finally for Rosebank, we’ve got an interesting single cask Rosebank 1980 22-year-old bottled by Douglas Laing in 2002 for the US market. 

Moving up to Inverness and there’s a Rare Malts Millburn 1975 18-year-old, from the very first batch of Rare Malts ever released in 1995, plus the fantastic Campbell & Clark Glen Mhor 1970 25-year-old, a micro batch of two sister sherry casks released at 45% in the mid-1990s, and a Glen Albyn 1975 from Cadenhead’s legendary White Label series that stunned connoisseurs in the 1990s - this one is Single Cask 3344 bottled at a blistering 59.1%.

Rounding up the indies, we’ve got Bresser & Timmer’s Caperdonich 1994 20-year-old Daily Dram (if only!), Dead Whisky Society’s legendary Caledonian 1976 34-year-old and a single cask St. Magdalene 1982 29-year-old by Douglas Laing, while Gordon & MacPhail chip in with Banff 1975-2001 Connoisseurs Choice and a Distillery Labels edition of Imperial 1994-2012. 

Signatory Vintage, meanwhile, have got an Imperial 1995-2014 (a cask strength vatting of two sister hogsheads), and a 36-year-old North Port (Brechin) 1981 bottled in 2018 for the company’s 30th Anniversary - this one is a glorious old sherry butt bottled at a poky natural strength of 100 UK Proof (57.2%).

Single Casks

We’ll start with the official single casks this month, and there’s some absolute beauties. Brief highlights include a pair of magnificent single casks from our friends in Ballindalloch: Glenfarclas 1953-2012 58-year-old Cask 1682 and Glenfarclas 1977 42-year-old Cask 7027. 

Although they’re both packaged in the same beautifully elegant Glencairn crystal decanters these are very different whiskies, with the 1953 maturing full term in a Spanish sherry butt and the 1977 coming from a fourth fill hogshead cask. Sadly, one thing these fantastic single cask releases do have in common is their scarcity, with Casks 1682 and 7027 yielding only a hundred or so bottles each.

Other top drawer officially bottled single casks this month include the famous Highland Park 1977-2003 Scottish Field Merchants single cask 4258, the exceptionally rare Springbank 1977-1996 DOWTS Cask 430, a private official bottling at a hearty 56.2%, and a rather mysterious NAS Glengoyne, privately bottled for Standard Life Loch Lomond at its potent cask strength of 62.3%.

Staying in the Highlands, we’ve got a rare Edradour 1973 30-year-old single sherry cask, which was the oldest official bottling at the time of release in 2003, very shortly after Signatory’s Andrew Symington had taken over the distillery. As you’d expect, there’s also lots of great Glendronach single casks in the auction this month, with vintages between 1989-1996 bottled between 2009-2021, including a very interesting Glendronach 1994 25-year-old, hand-bottled at the distillery from a sherry puncheon in 2019.

Miscellaneous official single casks include the remarkable Benromach 1969 39-year-old, one of only 40 bottles released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first solo circumnavigation of the world by yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnson. There’s also a special edition Balvenie 15-year-old from a Turnberry Golf Event in 2008, Finlaggan’s first ever Feis Ile special edition from 2016 and a refill hogshead of Glenrothes 1976 bottled in 2015 as a 39-year-old, while away from Scotland there’s interesting official single casks from Bimber, Elijah Craig, Whistlepig and Jack Daniel’s.

Let’s look at the indies now, and there’s some absolute diamonds. We’ll start with Signatory’s Tomatin 1967 40-year-old, a Gonzalez-Byass Oloroso sherry cask bottled in 2007 at 51.8%. Signatory also contribute a 25-year-old Mortlach 1991 sherry butt bottled in 2016, and sherry fanciers should also be keeping an eye on two superb drams in the form of Berry Bros & Rudd’s Glen Grant 1970 Cask 1027 bottled all the way back in 1999 and the even earlier Cadenhead’s White Label Clynelish 1972 Cask 5643, one of a trio of absolutely iconic single casks released in the mid-1990s at its massive natural cask strength of 61.5%. 

As ever, these are just brief highlights from this month's fantastic May Whisky Auction - check out the full range here.

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