I n the proud 383-year history of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, there has never been a sale quite like it. On 3 December, in partnership with Sotheby’s, some of Scotland’s rarest and most exquisite single malt whiskies go under the hammer, all donated by some of the country’s finest distilleries: the title of the auction, Distillers' One of One, neatly captures the sale’s unique nature.
More than 40 lots are on offer, with estimates for each ranging from £1,500 to more than £500,000. All proceeds will benefit The Youth Action Fund, established by The Distillers’ Charity to support disadvantaged young people in Scotland.
The lots range from single bottles of extremely rare old whiskies to whole barrels. Among the highlights is the Bowmore Onyx, a 1.4l hand-blown decanter containing a unique 51-year-old whisky, and the first ever publicly released bottle from Balvenie, which is also one of its oldest at 50-years-old.
“The spirit of the Scotch whisky community is every bit as strong as the unique contents of these wonderful bottles and casks”
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s senior whisky specialist noted the highest value lot in the sale: an entire cask of still-maturing 1978-distilled Talisker, its cask-end transformed into a work of art by acclaimed artist Callum Innes. “Callum and I used to live on the same street in Edinburgh, so I feel a personal connection to this cask,” he says. “Callum’s art will be incorporated in the design of the bottle labels for when the cask is ready, in five years’ time.” Fowle also praises the generosity that has made this sale possible. “The spirit of the Scotch whisky community is every bit as strong as the unique contents of these wonderful bottles and casks.”
Other drink news from around the world
The oldest single malt whisky ever to be bottled and released, an 80-year-old Glenlivet Gordon & MacPhail Generations, distilled on 3 February 1940 and bottled on 5 February last year, has been sold by Sotheby's Hong Kong for HK$ 1.5 million (£141,000). The whisky is from a first-fill sherry butt, and is housed in a decanter designed by celebrated architect Sir David Adjaye.
The Macallan has released the latest in its much-prized Double Cask range: the Double Cask 30 Years Old. Matured in a combination of European and American oak casks, both seasoned with sherry for 18 months, it boasts notes of caramel, vanilla, dried fruits and cinnamon. RRP $4,000.
Refusing to be outdone by Scotland, Japan's House of Suntory has just released Yamazaki 55 Years Old on to the global market, the oldest release in the company's history. An expertly-blended, deep amber spirit with aromas of sandalwood and ripe fruit, it has a suggested RRP of $60,000.