Rare whisky snatches record-breaking price at auction
A rare bottle of Macallan 1926, with a label designed by Italian artist Valerio Adami, broke auction records after it sold for $2.7 million.
Talk about an all-out splurge.
A bottle of the world’s “most sought-after Scotch whisky” – The Macallan 1926 – sold for more than $2.7 million at an auction at Sotheby’s in London on Saturday, the auction house said in a news release. The transaction set a new auction record for any bottle of spirit or wine sold, selling for almost three times the pre-sale low estimate of $934,274 – $1.4 million.
“This record-breaking result for The Macallan 1926 is nothing short of momentous for the whisky industry as a whole,” Sotheby’s Global Head of Spirits, Jonny Fowle, said in a statement. “This new record result for The Macallan Adami feels all the more emotional for me, having worked directly with the consignor and distillery to recondition, nose and authenticate this bottle, then finish this journey on the rostrum fielding bids in the room and on the phone.”
For Fowle, “bringing down the hammer for a new whisky world record is a feeling” that he’ll “never forget”.
How many Macallan’s 1926 were produced?
Only 40 bottles of The Macallan 1926 were produced in 1986, after being aged in sherry casks for six decades, said Sotheby’s, making it the oldest Macallan whiskey ever produced at that time.
None of The Macallan bottles were made available for purchase, said Sotheby’s in the product’s description on their website. Instead, some were offered to the distillery’s top clients, adding to their appeal and value.
At least three other bottles from the collection were auctioned in 2018 and 2019. One of them, decorated with one of 14 “Fine and Rare” labels had earlier set a record for the most expensive bottle ever sold, when it fetched $1.9 million at Sotheby’s in 2019.
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Ahead of the auction, Fowle told AFP that he tested a small sample of the whiskey.
“I tasted a tiny drop – a tiny drop – of this. It’s very rich, it’s got a lot of dried fruit as you would expect, a lot of spice, a lot of wood,” he told AFP.
Fowle said that the whiskey was “incredible” and should not be taken lightly, explaining that the liquid had “spent 60 years in dark European oak, which was reflected in the color”.
“The whisky had an incredible depth of character – rich dark fruits, black cherry compote alongside sticky dates, followed by intense sweet antique oak, which is for me a recognizable note of such aged Macallan, ” Macallan’s Master Whisky Maker Kirsteen Campbell said in a statement. “Dark chocolate, treacle, ginger… the notes go on and on.”
Campbell said that being involved in the sensory analysis of the whiskey was “an incredible privilege” and that “it was a very special moment to experience the opening of this iconic 60 years old single malt, first bottled 37 years ago.”
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Sotheby’s, in the news release, said that they worked directly with The Macallan to “recondition and authenticate” the bottle, marking the first time this has ever been done for a 1926.
Breaking down the reconditioning process, Sotheby’s said that both the capsule and the cork were replaced while new glue was applied to the corners of the bottle label, designed by Italian painter Valerio Adami.
Twelve of the 40 Macallan 1926 bottles had Adami’s designed label on them, said Sotheby’s. Of them, one is believed to have been destroyed in the 2011 earthquake in Japan, adding to the bottle’s rarity factor. Only 10 now remain in existence, according to the auction house.
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Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @saman_shafiq7.