October Whisky Auction Highlights 2023
Welcome to our October 2023 Whisky-Online Auction Highlights! There’s some amazing stuff coming under the hammer this month from the likes of Port Ellen, Glen Grant, Macallan, St. Magdalene and many more, so we’d better get cracking…
We’ll begin our Auction Highlights with a selection of top class official distillery bottlings, and let’s start with a bang: We have a bottle of the magnificent Rare Malts edition Clynelish 1972 24-year-old bottled in 1997 at its extraordinary cask strength of 61.3% - this was the oldest and last of the five full size Rare Malts Clynelish 1972 bottlings, and also the highest strength of the group. A holy grail of a dram for Highland whisky fans.
Staying in the Highlands, there’s some lovely old bottles of Glengoyne this month, with the old school 1990s weird bottle shape 17-year-old and several vintage and non-vintage small batch and single cask OBs up for grabs from this criminally underrated distillery. There’s also some classic Brora bottlings from Diageo’s Rare Malts and Special Releases series.
Elsewhere, there’s the superb Tomatin 1962, a very rare and little-seen official bottling released in 2006 from a microbatch of two sister casks. This fortysomething-year-old dram passed by many whisky fans at the time but is one of the greatest official Tomatins ever released, with a remarkable intensity of tropical fruit and spicy oak.
Other notable but occasionally overlooked old school Highland official bottlings in this month’s sale include the likes of Blair Athol Bicentenary 18-year-old bottled in 1998, Ardmore 25-year-old and Dalmore 1992 Mackenzie, the latter being a small batch port-finished vintage edition bottled at an unusually hearty 46%.
Moving to Speyside and there’s the usual generous helping of classic and modern Macallans, with highlights including 2020’s Macallan Easter Elchies Black, and some splendid bottlings from vintages including 1946, 1958/1959, 1965, 1970 and 1975 to name but a few.
Other official Speyside OBs worth keeping an eye on include the excellent 1990s edition of Glenfiddich 18-year-old Excellence, Aberlour’s epic 1970 vintage 21-year-old bottled in 1991, the superlative Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 20 bottled in 2007 during a golden era for this enduring classic, and more recent editions of Benriach 25-year-old, 30-year-old and 35-year-old.
Miscellaneous notable OBs this month include 2021’s Springbank 12-year-old Cask Strength and an older Springbank 18-year-old, Ardbeg 1996 22-year-old Twenty Something from 2018, and a slew of wonderful earlier bottlings including a beautiful 1980s Rosebank 8-year-old, the 48.1% edition of Highland Park 25-year-old bottled between 2006-2012, and some great stuff from Bruichladdich including the first edition of Bruichladdich’s Black Art, and Octomore 2.1 and 3.1 from 2009-10.
There’s hundreds of fantastic indie bottlings this month, but we’ll try and keep this brief. We’ll start with Gordon & MacPhail, and there’s some wonderful drams from the Elgin heroes. Representing the famous Distillery Labels series, we’ve got the 2006 bottling of Glen Grant 1956 and a marvellous early 2000s Strathisla 30-year-old, a textbook sherried dram distilled in the 1970s and bottled at an elegant 43% that belies its flavour intensity.
Sherry fans will also be keeping a close eye on the likes of the MacPhail’s Collection Glenrothes 30-year-old, the epic Macallan 1971 Speymalt bottled in 2009, the legendary Pride of Strathspey 1938 and an extraordinary 1970s bottling of Tamdhu 8-year-old, a deep chestnut-coloured dram that must have been resting in some wonderful sherrywood.
Moving on to Cadenhead’s, and there's some very desirable drams including a lovely cask strength bourbon barrel 12-year-old Springbank 1991 and a magnificent old clear glass Laphroaig 12-year-old - this very rare edition was released at 80 Imperial proof (46%) around the end of the 1960s, so the whisky would have been distilled in the mid to late 1950s and bidding will be fierce. There are also some wonderful old Cadenhead’s single casks from closed distilleries that we’ll come to later…
Over at Douglas Laing, there’s a superb Old Malt Cask sherry butt of Glen Grant 1976 bottled in 2009, plus a very promising pair of Islay drams: Caol Ila 1979 and Port Ellen 1982, both bottled in 2007 for the old wooden box Platinum Selection range.
Not to be outdone, Signatory Vintage weigh in with a tantalising Springbank 1975 19-year-old from 1995, a pair of Longrow 1987s, a 25-year-old Teaninich 1983 and a fabulous double magnum 3-litre bottle of Springbank 1990 bottled at 46% in 2011.
Moving away from the big boys, there’s some wonderful old bottlings from the heyday of Direct Wines’ First Cask series, with choice vintage bottlings of Inchgower 1980, Bunnahabhain 1979, Benriach 1976, Caol Ila 1981, Glen Grant 1976 and Tomatin 1976.
Other great indie drams this month include Clynelish 1995 and Invergordon 1965 from Duncan Taylor, Port Ellen 1975 and 1977 from Hart Bros, the delicious cask strength Port Ellen 17-year-old from Douglas Murdoch and some tasty long-aged grain whiskies including Hunter Laing’s 25-year-old Port Dundas 1988 and a remarkable 45-year-old Caledonian 1965.
Finally we come to Wemyss’s spectacular Dalmore 1990 bottled in 2009, a monstrous refill sherry butt that somehow preserved a strength of 59.4% after 19 years of ageing, which will be very interesting for those who’ve never tried an unadulterated or cask strength Dalmore.
As ever there’s a stupendous selection of drams from closed distilleries in this month’s sale. Official bottlings from closed distilleries include the legendary Rare Malts edition of St. Magdalene 1979 19-year-old at its tastebud-trembling 63.8%, and as it happens there’s many more great St. Magdalenes in this sale, with a pair of 1975 vintages from Gordon & MacPhail bottled in 2008-9, and St Magdalene / Linlithgow 1982 vintage bottlings from Douglas Laing, Berry Brothers and Cadenhead’s - the latter being a rare 1982 St. Magdalene 12-year-old bottled at a mighty 63%.
Staying with Cadenhead’s, there’s also some great old 1990s bottlings from closed Diageo distilleries, including Glen Mhor 1976, North Port 1976, Banff 1976 and Coleburn 1978. Cadenhead’s have managed to go one further, with a superb cask strength Rum from a closed Guyana distillery: Uitvlugt 1974 30-year-old, bottled at its mighty 61.5% cask strength in 2004.
Back at Gordon & MacPhail and there’s a nice pair of vintage bottlings of Imperial from 1979 and 1997, with the latter being one of the last ever vintages from the distillery. We also have two great drams from G&M's Rare Old range in the form of a Glenury Royal 1984 from 2007 and the earlier Lochside 1981 bottled in 2005.
Direct Wine’s much-missed First Cask, meanwhile, weighs in with another North Port Brechin 1976, plus Convalmore 1981 and Imperial 1982, while Duncan Taylor have got a rare Mosstowie 1975 bottled in 2007 at a lipsmacking 50.7%, and we'll wrap up with Ian Macleod's Banff 1979 bottled at 46% in 2002 as part of the Chieftain’s Choice series.
We have some marvellous single cask bottlings for you this month. Officially-bottled single casks are relatively rare compared to indie bottlings but we have some choice examples, like the Glenallachie 1989 32-year-old Cask 6495, a Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon cask bottled in 2021 at a chunky 55.8%, or the classic Auchentoshan 1966 31-year-old Cask 508 - a very highly rated hogshead bottled in the late 1990s at its natural strength of 50.4%.
Other top class official single casks in this sale include Benriach 1977, a teak-dark 33-year-old single cask finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry and bottled at a hearty 54.9%, plus a 21-year-old Bruichladdich 1992 bottled for Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win in 2013 after finishing in Chateau Margaux claret and, and various lovely 1980s and 1990s vintages from other single cask specialists including Balvenie, Ben Nevis, Glengoyne, Springbank, and Glendronach.
We also have some rarer official single casks, such as the Laphroaig 1978 gifted to Prince Charles and bottled for charity in 1994, and some official single casks from further afield including several interesting bottles from Bimber, and a Geisha label 35-year-old Karuizawa 1980 bottled in 2015 for Harbour City Hong Kong at its massive cask strength of 60.1%.
Indie single casks are of course abundant, but there’s some particularly interesting examples this month, with some very rare indie Macallans including Jack Wieber’s Macallan 1980 30-year-old, Signatory’s magnum of Macallan 1990 bottled in 1999 for the millennium, and Adelphi’s Macallan 1995-2010.
Other indie single cask bottlings of note include a rare early outing of indie Hazelburn 1998 8-year-old bottled in 2007 for Springbank alumnus Gordon Wright’s now defunct Alchemist range, and there’s also one of the legendary Ledaig 2005 sherry casks bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd in 2010: Ledaig 2005 Cask 900008 was bottled as a 4-year-old at its humongous cask strength of 62.7% and its raw, rubbery, meaty, tarry power caused a sensation.
Tobermory, to their great credit, seized upon this lucky break and rode with it, capturing a new generation of adventurous fans and ensuring cult status for Ledaig today.
That's it for this month, but as ever this is just a small representative selection. Check out the full auction here, Good Luck and Happy Bidding!