Most whisky connoisseurs would be happy to go down to a well-stocked liquor store and pick out a nice bottle of single malt to enjoy. But there's a whole class of individuals for whom the usual fare — no matter how varied or rare — will never be enough. These collectors and speculators migrate towards whisky sales, like the one recently held in Edinburgh.
The whisky auction was held by Bonhams, one of the world's oldest auctioneers that dates back to 1793. Bonhams operates out of two showrooms — one on New Bond Street and one at Knightsbridge — but regularly holds auctions in locations around the world. Its whisky sales typically take place in the Scottish capital, and the most recent such auction featured some highly desirable and hugely valuable lots.
The highlight of the event, which was held this past December 11, was undoubtedly the 50-year-old bottle of Glendiffich. The bottle was taken from six vats — three laid down in July of 1937 and another three from December 1939 — then vatted for one year and bottled on the July 26, 1991. It carries the number 416 in the distillery's limited run and came in a wooden presentation case accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
“Interest in whisky auctions remains high not just in the UK, but across the world,” said Bonhams' whisky specialist Martin Green. “This year we’ve seen a particular increase in bidders and buyers from Europe and the Far East.”
Following frenzied bidding, the bottle sold for an impressive £13,750 (around $22,683), falling right in the pre-sale estimate range of £12,000-15,000 ($19,786-24,733) and emerging as the top lot sold on the day. But it wasn't the only bottle of rare scotch whisky to sell in the thousands. Other notable lots included a 51-year-old bottle of Macallan Select Reserve, one of only 365 made, which sold for £7,500 ($12,366) — well above its pre-sale estimate of £4,000-6,000 ($6,595-9,893); a bottle of Macallan from 1938 that similarly exceeded its estimated value with a £4,375 ($7,213) top bid; a 15-year-old bottle of Ardbeg valued at £250-300 ($412-495) that sold for £3,500 ($5,771) and a Bowmore from 1955 that more than tripled its £900-1,000 ($1,484-1,650) value at £3,125 ($5,152).