Finest Whisky | A Sherry Cask from Macallan Distillery + Samaroli Icons
Online Auction: 10–21 October 2022 • 1:00 PM BST • London

Finest Whisky | A Sherry Cask from Macallan Distillery + Samaroli Icons 10–21 October 2022 • 1:00 PM BST • London

S otheby's October Whisky auction in London presents some of the finest whisky ever offered, not only in bottles but also in casks. The sale is led by some of the highest rated single malt Scotch and Japanese in existence, not least three of the top four whiskies from Whiskybase's top 1,000 (the world’s biggest whisky database) from icon Silvano Samaroli and the highest rated Japanese bottle on Serge Valentin's Whiskyfun. The headline lot of this sale, however, lives not in glass, but in Oak: A 1991 sherry butt of Macallan.

The lots in this auction span a huge number of vintages, the earliest being a 1948 West Indies Rum, considered by many to be the greatest rum ever produced and said by Silvano Samaroli himself to be his favourite bottle. The timeline features highlights from this auction by vintage. There are certain vintages that contain two bottles. 1967, for instance, would not be complete without both the Laphroaig Samaroli and Karuizawa Cask #6426. For a full list of bottles in each vintage, please apply the vintage filter on the left hand side of the Lots page.

The Macallan

Since whisky collecting began, The Macallan has always been the most coveted name in the industry. It still reigns at the top of the list of the most valuable bottles ever sold at auction and, in fact, has broken its own record for this multiple times, frequently at Sotheby’s.

For the first time ever in a Sotheby’s London Whisky auction, we are proud to offer an entire cask distilled at The Macallan Distillery. As whisky enthusiasts and even those new to the category know, whisky matures in the barrel, rather than the bottle. The ability to purchase a cask therefore offers its owner not only the opportunity to procure the liquid equivalent of 528 bottles of Macallan, it also allows them to age their whisky further and choose when it is ready for bottling, or, indeed sell it on once it has increased in age. This Sherry Butt has housed the liquid within for 31 years, but with a high abv of 51.3% this cask will be able to age for many, many more years to come

With time comes roasted nuts and the fruits are turning jammier now, some plum compote, stewed blackcurrants, figs, honey, toffee and thick cut orange marmalade.
James Gray, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist

The Macallan is renowned both for the quality of its liquid (particularly when matured in Sherry Casks) and its ability to age. Indeed, The Macallan has set the record for the oldest whisky ever released three times in the last 4 years, with The Reach 81 Year Old now holding this mantle. This sale comprises a number of The Macallan’s more extravagant bottlings, not least 5 Lalique decanters, two bottles from its Fine & Rare series and no less than 17 bottles of 25 Year old Anniversary Malt.


Silvano Samaroli is hallowed in the history of Scotch whisky as selecting the best casks in existence. It is no secret that the top 4 bottles on the Whiskybase top 1000 are all from the Samaroli canon. Having developed his taste for whisky while working at an Italian liquor store, Silvano founded his own wine and spirits merchants, Samaroli Srl, in Rome in 1968. Beginning as an importer, Samaroli went on to become the first independent bottler of Scotch outside the UK.

As his range evolved, Samaroli began experimenting with bottling at cask strength, spearheading the high-proof movement that is now standard amongst independent bottlers. Each bottle was described with immense detail, citing cask numbers, wood types, distillation dates, tasting notes and even stories to accompany them, a level of attention to detail that was at that stage unprecedented, but nowadays hailed as the standard for independent bottlers.

Of all Silvano’s bottlings, the Laphroaig Samaroli 15 Year Old 1967 is among the most notable. This bottle takes its place at the number 1 spot on the top 1000 list, and received an enormous 98 points by Serge Valentin on not just once, but twice! Notorious Islay collector Marcel Van Gils said,

"Every whisky aficionado will agree that Silvano Samaroli’s Laphroaigs rate amongst the best single malts ever bottled by man. The 1967 and 1970 are arguably only surpassed by some of Silvano’s other casks."
Marcel Van Gils

Indeed, the 1970 bottling Marcel refers to above is the favourite of another highly respected pillar of the Scotch Whisky community. Bar owner of The Auld Alliance in Singapore and personal friend of Silvano’s, Emmanuel Dron has mentioned on more than one occasion, not least in his book, that the Laphroaig Sama, who notes that the Laphoraig 1970 Samaroli is his number one whisky ever bottled.

Samaroli’s Laphroaigs are more than just individual bottles, in fact the 1967 spearheads his “Silver Cap” series, supported by a delectable Tormore and the lesser-spotted Glen Grant.

“The Silver Cap Series is highly sought after, especially the Laphroaig [1967] and the Tormore. I have been lucky to taste them both many times. The Laphroaig displays a perfect trinity between the sherry, the peat and the fruit with finesse”
Emmanuel Dron, Collecting Scotch Whisky (Vol. 1)

The Samaroli offering in this auction doesn’t finish here. There are notable bottlings including the Strathisla 1967 (which holds the #4 position on Whiskybase’s top 1000), the Caol Ila 1968 (Samaroli’s only bottling from Caol Ila’s old distillery before its demolition in 1972) and the inimitable Springbank 12 with Silvano’s iconic yellow back label, which was also awarded 98 points by whisky taster extraordinaire Serge Valentin.

Moon Import

Another of Italy’s most venerable independent bottlers is, undoubtedly, Moon Import, founded by Pepi Mongiardino in Genoa in 1980.

A friend of Samaroli’s, Mongiardino’s most revered bottles are of a similar style to those of his contemporary: single cask and often sherry influenced releases, however Pepi’s bottles did not follow the natural strength format of Silvano’s. Offered in this sale is a stunning example of Moon’s style and one of only 360 bottles ever produced, the Ardbeg Moon Import The Birds Series I 46.0 abv 1966. This exquisitely deeply coloured, sherry matured release epitomises the whiskies that were being bottled by these Italian independents.

Mongiardino understood the arresting power of an image and elevated his labels beyond containing detailed information about the whisky to incorporate eye catching illustrations. Mongiardino found inspiration for his labels from an 18th century German encyclopedia, Brockhaus Enzyklopädie and many of his most notable series are opulently adorned with artwork from this book. Amongst these highly collectable bottles is the Bowmore Moon Import The Birds Series II 43.0 abv 1974.

Mongiardino’s cask selection was impeccable, a prime example of which is the Springbank Moon Import The Birds Series I 46.0 abv 1965, the jewel in the crown of Campbeltown distilleries. The liquid produced has been so intensely enriched by its sherry cask, that it has developed the most stunning deep mahogany colour. Mongiardino’s appreciation for Campbeltown continues with the Longrow Moon Import The Birds Series II 46.0 abv 1973, one of 600 bottles, this peated expression, produced at Springbank distillery, is the perfect counterbalance to the heavily sherried Springbank 1965.

Japanese Whisky

The sale begins with a number of bottles of Japanese whisky from Karuizawa, Hanyu, Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries.

Amongst these are two of the most legendary bottles of Japanese whisky ever bottled, and hold the top two scores for bottles of Japanese whisky from acclaimed whisky writer Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun.

The Karuizawa Vintage Cask #6426 58.4 abv was distilled 1967 and bottled as a split cask between La Maison Du Whisky and The Whisky Exchange in 2009 (to celebrate their 10th anniversary). This sale includes the LMDW bottle, one of only 229. This is regarded as one of the best sherried whiskies ever bottled, and was scored 95 points by Serge Valentin, Whiskyfun, the highest score ever given to a bottle of Karuizawa.

“...old leather, precious wood, dry sherry, pipe tobacco, Cuban cigars (in truth, a whole humidor), cedar wood, cough syrup, plum jam, very old Armagnac, a little tar, even whiffs of engine oil… What an amazing complexity!”
Serge Valentin, Whiskyfun (95 Points)

The Karuizawa Vintage Cask #6955 61.1 abv was distilled in 1968 and bottled for La Maison Du Whisky in 2010. Bottled around 42 years of age from a single sherry butt, this is amongst the oldest Karuizawa ever released and displays all the characteristics which have made many of the whiskies distilled at Karuizawa become some of the most sought after on the planet.


“Figs, dates, mead, dried apricot, then camphor and cured ham. And hundreds of other aromas”
Serge Valentin, Whiskyfun (94 Points)

Alongside the Karuizawa, the sale features a number of bottles from the Hanyu Ichiro’s Malt Card Series, one of the most collectible and widely recognised series of whiskies ever released. Based on a pack of playing cards, each label features a different card, and the whiskies were hand chosen by Ichiro Akuto, Grandson of Isouji Akuto, who founded the Hanyu Distillery in the early 1940s.

No Reserve Highlights

This sale features whiskies of varying values, from a sherry butt of Macallan with a low estimate of £400,000 to whiskies that are sold with no reserve. For any whiskies with no reserve the starting bid is as little as £1. These whiskies are all fantastically collectible, yet are offered without reserve to give every potential whisky enthusiast the opportunity to build a collection at any price point. Below is a list of lots sold without reserve:

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