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The Macallan - The Malt: The Macallan at auction; “The Definitive Guide To Buying Vintage Macallan”

Whisky auctions are a comparatively new international event. The first significant auction took place at Christie's in 1983, the star attraction being a Macallan 50 Years Old, distilled in 1928 that fetched £1,100. The Macallan holds the world record price for the sale of a single bottle of malt whisky at auction. Over the years the whisky auctions have evolved, The Macallan has had the highest profile in each auction sale

The first whiskies to be offered formed a section of a Fine Wine auction, the property of a retired Director of one of the major whisky industry brands. Interest in whisky increased as did the size of the Whisky Section of each Wine auction until, in December 1989, due to the increasing demand, the first dedicated Whisky Sale took place. This was a huge success. From 1989 to 1994 the auctions were an annual event. The 1994 sale was so large, really two sales rolled into one, that two auctions were held each year thereafter. At McTear's we currently have three auctions each year.

Every whisky catalogue has an index of the bottles on offer. The Macallan section regularly has the largest list of products and takes up the most space on those pages. The Macallan is one of the most collectable single malts, not only because of the high popularity and quality of the spirit, but because of the unique flavour and love of the malt by whisky enthusiasts.
Other favourites in the collectors' market are Ardbeg, Bowmore, Spring- bank, Longrow, Port Ellen, Glen Grant, The GlenEvet, Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich, Highland Park, Rosebank and Talisker. Rare old blended whiskies, particularly early examples of well known brands, are very popular as well.

"People from countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Japan regularly cometo the auctions in person or can bid by arrangement on the telephone. Written bids by fax are also a very popular way to bid, as is communication by email with written confirmation."

Single Vintage selections are most popular with collectors, as are limited releases of The Macallan such as The 1874 Replica (the original bottle sold for £3,900—out of the price range for the average collector). The replica bottling was more affordable and still looks authentic at £100. The Macallan's Royal Marriage bottling, Private Eye, and 25 years old Anniversary Malt (the earliest distilled in 1957), together with the 50 year old 1928 Springbank's Green whisky, bottled by Cadenheads in the early 90's, (it cost under £75 and now fetches up to £600 ten years later), are all fine examples of single malts which have appreciated significantly in price over the years.


From these figures it is easy to understand why The Macallan has earned its reputation as "The Rolls Royce of Single Malts"



Springbank single cask bottlings of spirit distilled in 1966 are popular too, as are individually numbered bottles from individual casks. Bowmore's example of the 1964 spirit, named Black Bowmore due to its dark colour, releacod in the mid 1990's at a cost of under £100, fetches over £1,000 per bottle in the new Millennium. Although some rare single malt release can be expensive since older spirits are becoming scarcer, an individually numbered bottle from a low yield cask is always a worthwhile factor to consider.

The Macallan has the largest range of bottlings that have been and still are available, distilled in the years from the 19th Century through to the present day. This is the main reason that such a large proportion of collectors are attracted to The Macallan. The brand boasts some exciting auction results and includes exceptional prices for rare bottlings. The three annual whisky auction sales held at McTear's in Glasgow, Scotland's Whisky Auction specialists, are held in April, September and December. The Macallan brand is well represented in these highly specialised auctions. Collectors await each catalogue with bated breath for rare Macallan and other single malt bottlings that often cannot be found elsewhere.


Included in each auction are bottlings of Macallan that are more affordable than those highlighted. At the lower end of the scale, Macallan bottlings such as the following can be found for three figure sums: The Macallan Private Eye, The Macallan 1874 Replica, Macallan 10 years old bottled for Knockando Church Restoration Fund, (never on sale at retail) and The Macallan Royal Marriage (a vating of 1948 and 1961 casks, labelled for The Marriage of The Prince of Wales to The Lady Diana Spencer in 1981). The latter bottle here is a prime example of the investment potential attached to Macallan; The Royal Marriage bottling retailed at under £100 in the early 1980's; as many people have drunk the malt over the years, the rare survivors, stored well and offered in pristine condition, fetch over £300 at auction today

Vintage expressions of The Macallan are sure to find favour with auction enthusiasts and collectors the world over due to the extensive range available, the individuality of each whisky and uniqueness of their packaging.


Written by Martin Green


The text is an excerpt from "The Definitive Guide to Buying Vintage Macallan" (pp. 13 - 15), First Edition, published 2003 by Macallan Distillery Ltd.