November Auction Results 2019
Unsurprisingly it was another Macallan that took the top spot in an overall rather excellent auction. This time the 1949 50-year-old millennium decanter was the winner with a hammer price of £25,100. Followed not too far away by the first edition of the Highland Park 50-year-old at £16,800 and the Macallan 1946 52-year-old at £12,700. All hefty and serious results.
However, a little further down the sale and some more intriguing results begin to appear. A few years ago we sold a crate of Dunvilles Three Crowns Irish Whiskey bottled in 1948. At the time they fetched just over £2000; the same sort of case last night fetched an impressive £5000. A clear example of the continuing rise in interest around old Irish Whiskey.
A beautiful and rare Highland Park tall bottling by Cadenhead from the 1960s also did well at £3800. A stunning old piece of independent whisky history in immaculate condition – the kind of bottle that’s increasingly scarce in this day and age. On the flip side, the recently released Brora 40-year-old fetched £3000, someway below its original retail price. A sign that it was perhaps too steeply-priced to begin with?
Good to see bottles like the old Bowmore Bicentenary still turning up occasionally, although it’s of little surprise to see it fetch £2400. This remains a truly must try bottle for anyone serious about old-style Islay whiskies. It was a nice contrast to see it sitting alongside a bottle of Macallan 1937 bottled by Gordon & MacPhail in the early 1970s.
Speaking of Gordon & MacPhail. There were two truly beautiful examples of Glenlivet from them in this auction. A 1937 at 70 proof and a 1945 at 100 proof: both bottled in the early 1960s and featuring the elusive ‘Securo Cap’ closure which many collectors adore. Once again these are stunningly well-preserved examples of beautiful and historic malt whisky. Little wonder they fetched £1950 and £2050 respectively.
It was interesting to note by way of comparison, a 1937 Strathisla by Gordon & MacPhail bottled slightly later around 1970 fetched £1350. So the earlier Securo cap bottles do carry something of a premium due to their scarcity. It was good to see the excellent and rather rare Ardbeg 1976 by Adelphi hit £1050. While the old official Ardbeg 30-year-old from the 1990s also finished up at the same price. As did a 1974 18-year-old official Longrow. It seems this style and quality of old peated malts can sometimes have a uniformity of market value.
Another interesting mix of results was the Lagavulin 12-year-old white horse next to the Mortlach 1936 Gordon & MacPhail bottling from the early 1980s. Both of which hit £900. At that price, the Lagavulin looks ok and the Mortlach looks like quite a good buy. Although the level was a tad low.
Glengoyne continued to show it has firm footing at auction with the 30-year-old millennium clock bottling fetching £850. As did the rather enticing looking Glenfiddich 1983 25-year-old official single cask next to it for the same price. However, both were eclipsed in terms of fascination, by a Glen Grant 5-year-old bottled at a lip-smacking 104 proof in the 1950s by Campbell Hope & King. Its price of £825 was good considering the low level. But what a gorgeous and scarce piece of liquid history.
It was also interesting to see the two 1998 Ardbeg single casks 1189 & 1190 hitting £800 a peace – it seems these younger official single casks are starting to follow their older and more legendary siblings towards the four-figure mark. Either side of it you could have had a 43-year-old Cognac Casks Glenfarclas or a 1972 Family Casks Glenfarclas for the same price. It shows the name Ardbeg still carries some serious heft at auction.
Around this price level, there were a couple of good buys for the eagle-eyed: a 1969 Berry Brothers Longmorn and a 1957 Talisker by Gordon & MacPhail were looking rather tasty at £750 and £725 respectively. Similarly a 1968 Bruichladdich bottled in 1993 by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society was solid but still fair at £575.
An old 12-year-old official bottling of Glenlivet from the 1960s performed well at £400. Although these are such great drams it seems likely this kind of bottle still has some way further to travel in the coming years. More and more people are waking up to just how good the liquid is in these older bottlings.
Moving further down the sale it was very much business as usual. With most bottlings hitting their stride at market price. There were a few curiosities such as an old half bottle of Macallan 10-year-old fetching £270 – an interesting illustration of how deep the Macallan bug goes sometimes. Plus a 1983 22-year-old Teaninich from Signatory finishing up at an impressive £260. There are many excellent Teaninich bottlings out there, it will be interesting to see if the increasing recognition of the liquid will translate to results at auction. No doubt time will tell.
Another quiet but notable result was the Kilchoman 100% Islay Cask Strength which hit £160. Kilchoman isn’t a name we’re used to seeing in the three-figure range at auction. It will be interesting to see if this becomes more common as the distillery continues to firm up its stocks and reputation.
Overall prices remain firm if a little wobbly and unusual here and there. Probably signs that the market is beginning to evolve around new buyers, new trends and new reputations – both good and bad. There’s no doubt some degree of influence from the recent tariffs in America will be being felt, although it’s still too soon to quantify that. Ultimately, especially for older bottlings, the supply remains far short of the demand. And it certainly remains a seller’s market. It will certainly be interesting to watch the secondary market and how it evolves over the next six months.