November Whisky Auction Highlights 2023
Welcome to our November 2023 Whisky Auction highlights blog! There’s plenty of great stuff to tell you about, including some fantastic drams from Brora, Laphroaig and Macallan, so we’d better get straight into it.
We have some magnificent old golden age official bottlings from some of Scotland’s greatest distilleries coming under the hammer this month. Laphroaig fans need to get their bidding fingers ready: we have a wonderful selection of old Laphroaig 10-year-olds from the 1970s and very early 1980s, including no fewer than six bottles of ‘Unblended’ Laphroaig 10-year-old bottled in 1981. These gems will be coming under the hammer alongside a late 1970s Unblended 10-year-old and a slightly earlier bottle from the pre-Unblended era and, apart from the latter which was bottled at 70 Imperial Proof (40%), all of these beauties are at the higher strength of 43%.
Staying on Islay, there’s the delicious Lagavulin 1995 Distillers Edition and we also have some great Bowmore, including a 1980s dumpy litre bottle of Bowmore 12-year-old, an official Bowmore 21-year-old from around the turn of the millennium and the more recent Bowmore 27-year-old Timeless bottled in 2020. Ardbeg, meanwhile, are well represented by a 1990s Ardbeg Guaranteed 10 years Old, official bottlings of the 1975 and 1978 vintages and one of the first ever bottlings of Ardbeg 17-year-old from 1997 - a truly epic dram and unquestionably one of the most important bottlings in the distillery’s history.
There’s lots of great Macallan in this month’s sale as well, of course. This month’s highlights include several recent special editions, including some beauties from the Concept and Folio series, but the real treasure is the older bottles - we've got hold of several excellent old wooden box Macallan Anniversary Selection 25-year-olds from vintages going back as far as 1958/9, and a huge string of vintage Macallan 18-year-olds distilled 1964-1980, missing only the 1969 vintage.
We have plenty of older prestige Macallans in the sale too, with the much-loved 1946 and 1948 vintage editions making a welcome reappearance, but perhaps our favourite Macallan this month is the amazing Macallan 50-year-old Lalique released in 2005. This first release in the Macallan Six Pillars series was also the first ever Lalique decanter edition of Macallan and was a very limited batch of just 470 bottles released at a hearty 46%. An iconic bottle filled with ancient Macallans distilled no later than 1956, though some of the constituent malts were apparently much older than the stated age of 50 years old.
Moving on to Diageo and their predecessors, we’ve got Special Releases from Brora, Cragganmore, Port Ellen and Cardhu, and there’s also some really splendid Rare Malts editions up for grabs including Rosebank 1981, Mannochmore 1974, Royal Brackla 1978 and one of the rarest of the Rare Malts: the North Port 1979 19-year-old 75cl bottled at 61% for the US market in 1998 - a bottling so obscure that, as far as we’re aware, it’s the only Rare Malt that we’ve never auctioned before! We’re absolutely delighted to have finally filled up our Rare Malts bingo card and we can’t wait to see what this ultra-rare beauty will go for.
Miscellaneous favourite or otherwise noteworthy official bottlings this month include some terrific Balblairs, including a gift set of the legendary Balblair 33-year-old released in 2000 and early versions of the 1966, 1975 and 1983 vintage releases. We also have a delicious Glen Moray 1966, a rare small batch Glenfarclas 1968 bottled in 2000, an old school Glenglassaugh 1986 19-year-old, a very rare clear glass 1980s Glendronach 12-year-old and some lovely Aberlours including the 1970 vintage 21-year-old released in 1991 and some very tempting early batches of Aberlour a’bunadh.
Alongside familiar favourites including turn-of-the-century 21-year-olds from Springbank and Glenfiddich, some excellent Glengoyne Vintage Reserves distilled from 1968-1970, and rare official litre bottles of 1990s Scapa 10-year-old and 12-year-old, there’s also a fantastic selection of classic Highland Parks this month, including 1990s dumpy bottlings of Highland Park 1977 Bicentenary and the 53.5% cask strength 25-year-old in addition to all manner of Viking-themed highlights from the distillery’s 21st century portfolio.
Finally, a quick trip to the USA for the American whiskey fans: we have some great old Jack Daniel’s special editions, a beautiful 1980s Wild Turkey Wedgwood Crystal decanter and, best of all, a 1986 bottling of Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12-year-old, distilled at the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery around 1974.
There’s some cracking indie bottlings this month! Big fish Gordon & MacPhail are, as ever, very well represented with choice highlights including lovely old early 1980s brown label Connoisseurs Choice bottlings of Tomatin 1964 and the classic Ledaig 1972, alongside the famous Glen Gordon 1957 bottled in the 1990s (and widely believed to be a secret Macallan), a 1980s bottling of Glenlivet 15-year-old 100-Proof and the all-time classic Strathisla 1937.
Elsewhere there’s some great First Cask bottlings up for grabs, including a 21-year-old Highland Park 1986, Imperial 1982 24-year-old and a rare example of Loch Lomond’s discontinued Rhosdhu spirit style from the 1979 vintage bottled as a 26-year-old in the mid-2000s.
Duncan Taylor, meanwhile, have some absolutely superb drams in this month’s sale including a recent Dalmunach 2016 5-year-old Octave, a 37-year-old Strathisla 1967 released in 2004 and a Rare Auld Carsebridge 1979 single grain whisky bottled as a 25-year-old in 2005.
There’s more terrific stuff for grain whisky fans this month too, with That Boutique-y Whisky Co. bottlings of 52-year-old Carsebridge and 53-year-old Girvan single grains, while Douglas Laing have a 45-year-old Cambus 1976 and Carn Mor chip in with a 41-year-old Strathclyde 1965 bottled in 2007.
We have a wonderful array of fabulous old drams from closed distilleries this month. Official bottlings from closed distilleries include a turn of the century Littlemill 8-year-old and a rare single cask from one of the most difficult to find closed distilleries - a 1973 single cask from the lost Ladyburn distillery, one of a dozen or so single cask bottlings released in 2000.
Port Ellen hasn’t quite reopened yet, so it still lives in this section for now and we’ve got some superb old bottlings from usual suspects Hunter Laing & Douglas Laing. Other indie highlights from closed distilleries include Gordon & MacPhail’s Glenlochy 1968, the Rare Old Coleburn 1981 bottled in 2015, a 1997 Connoisseurs Choice bottling of Glen Esk 1984 (aka Hillside), the very rare Glen Mhor 1978 Cask Strength and a little-seen Dallas Dhu 12-year-old.
Cadenhead’s, meanwhile, chip in with a 15-year-old Banff 1976 and a 21-year-old Convalmore 1977, while Signatory Vintage are well represented by a 1981 Brora and a Glenlochy 1980, both bottled in 2005.
We have some truly outstanding single cask bottlings for you this month. Officially-bottled single casks include Speyside beauties like the Macallan 1997 22-year-old released in 2019 as part of the revived Exceptional Single Cask series, and we also have the delightful Balvenie 1972 33-year-old and Glenfiddich’s rare 125th Anniversary bottling - a single cask of the 1987 vintage released in 2012.
Moving to the Highlands, there's a rare Balblair 1985 single cask released in 2015 for the 30th anniversary of Nato affiliates Natex, and we've also got Glenmorangie’s 1984 10-year-old Natural Cask Strength released in 1995 and a trio of excellent Ben Nevis single casks from 1984 and 1998.
Top class indie single casks in this month’s whisky auction include Gordon & MacPhail’s rare dumpy bottling of St. Magdalene 1975 bottled for a Scottish retailer in 2006, plus James Macarthur’s Macallan 1979-2001, Douglas Laing’s Rosebank 1975 27-year-old, Cadenhead’s Ben Nevis 1986 15-year-old and one of the earliest Carn Mor bottlings, a 1965 Glen Grant 43-year-old bottled in 2008.
Finally, there’s a wonderful old Irish whiskey collectable: a single cask bottling of Tullamore Dew, distilled at the B. Daly Tullamore distillery in 1945 and bottled privately by owner Willie Napier of the Central Bar in Lisburn as a 44-year-old in 1989.
That’s it for this month’s Auction Highlights, and as always it’s only a tiny selection of all the goodies on sale - make sure to check out the full auction here. Good Luck, and Happy Bidding!