T he Timeless Whisky Collection stands as the highest valued single owner whisky auction ever to take place in the USA. This collection, built over years by a dedicated collector in California and offered at Sotheby’s in New York, boasts 497 lots, not least 30 bottles that exceed 50 Years of age and a staggering 53 magnums. The sale is lead by The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection, which comes with a bespoke display platform and an exclusive experience offered directly from Lalique.
Building a collection of this magnitude is no easy feat, and something rarely seen in the whisky auction market. However, The USA still stands as the most significant nation for whisky collecting. In the past, Sotheby’s have offered four significant single owner collections that have been sourced in America, the most notable of which was The Ultimate Whisky Collection, which went on to set the record for the most valuable collection of all time when sold in London in 2019. For The Timeless Whisky Collection, Sotheby’s worked closely with consultant Mark Littler to bring these whiskies to auction.
The collector himself, an avid whisky enthusiast, welcomed the Sotheby’s Whisky team to his house in Los Angeles to perform our inspection. While wanting to remain anonymous, he was willing to provide a quote about this collection, saying
“Whisky has been a passion of mine for many years. While I collect many things, cars, watches and art included, whisky has always been something that has held my attention. I will be sad to part with this collection, but it felt like the time was right for it to find a new home. I have still held back some of my favorite bottles to enjoy over the next few years.”
View Excel Lot List
The result of a unique collaboration between The Macallan distillery and renowned French crystal maker Lalique, The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection was released over a decade, between 2005 - 2016. An exclusive series of limited-edition decanters, each release represents the marriage and mastery of spirit distilling and artistic crystal craftsmanship. The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection celebrates the foundation stones upon which the distinctive character of The Macallan and the distillery’s creation of its rich spirit are built, including Exceptional Oak Casks and Curiously Small Stills. Every decanter in the collection is a flawless piece of crystal art encasing some of the rarest and oldest Macallan single malt whiskies in the world, ranging between fifty and sixty-five years old.
For this auction and to celebrate the significance of The Timeless Whisky Collection, Sotheby’s commissioned a bespoke display platform made of Burr Elm by Anselm Fraser Design. The wood itself is from a Scottish Elm tree which fell at the beginning of the 1980s, and had been used as the bar top in a private residence in Scotland for the last 2 decades before being reclaimed and re-designed for this collection. The lot is also supported by Lalique themselves, who will offer a unique experience to the winning bidder and their guest to stay at Villa Rene Lalique in Alsace and dine at their 2 Michelin Star restaurant.
1700Captain John Grant builds Easter Elchies House, a traditional Highland manor, at the heart of the future Macallan Estate.
1824The Macallan distillery is licenced to Alexander Reid originally under the name Elchies Distillery.
1860Birth of René Lalique.
1868James Stuart acquires the lease and rebuilds the distillery.
1885Originally apprenticed as a jeweller, after gaining recognition as a designer Lalique takes over the jewellery workshop of Jules Destape on Place Gaillon in Paris.
1888–90René Lalique begins to experiment integrating glass and enamel into his designs, alongside precious metals and gemstones to embellish his jewelery.
1892James Stuart sells the distillery to Roderick Kemp from Elgin. Kemp renames it the Macallan-Glenlivet distillery and expands the site.
1907Lalique partners with perfumer François Coty to produce perfume bottles, leading Lalique to devote himself to industrial techniques of glass making becoming an Art Deco master glassmaker.
1909Roderick Kemp passes away and the Roderick Kemp Trust is established to secure the Kemp family’s future ownership of Macallan.
1910René Lalique designs the classic Paquerettes Tiara perfume bottle for perfumers Roger & Gallet.
1922Lalique founds the Verrerie d’Alsace glassworks at Wingen-sur-Moder in Alsace, a devoted Lalique glassware factory.
1945Death of René Lalique. Marc Lalique takes over further developing the production of crystal glassware.
1966The Roderick Kemp Trust is reformed as a private limited company.
1977Marie-Claude Lalique takes over the Lalique company, reviving the traditions of jewellery design and developing a fragrance brand which would be presented in the bottles designed and created by Lalique.
1986Japanese Group Suntory purchase 25% of Macallan-Glenlivet plc stocks.
1996Highland Distillers purchase the remaining 75% of Macallan-Glenlivet plc stocks.
1999Edrington and William Grant & Sons buys Highland Distillers for £601 million through, The 1887 Company. The remaining shares in Macallan continue to be held by Suntory.
2005The first of the Six Pillars Collection is released, Macallan in Lalique Exceptional Oak Casks 50-Years-Old (470 decanters).
2007The Macallan in Lalique Natural Colour 55-Years-Old (420 decanters) is released.
2008Art & Fragrance acquires Lalique. Known as Lalique Group after 2016.
2009The Macallan in Lalique Finest Cut 57-Years-Old (400 decanters) is released.
2011The Macallan in Lalique Curiously Small Stills 60-Years-Old (400 decanters) is released.
2014The Macallan in Lalique Spiritual Home 62-Years-Old (400 decanters) is released.
2016The final Six Pillars Collection bottling is released, The Macallan in Lalique Peerless Spirit 65-Years-Old (450 decanters).
2017On Sunday 2nd April 2017, The Macallan in Lalique Legacy Collection sells for $993,000 (USD) at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.
2019On 24th October 2019, The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillar Collection, with a James Laycock French polished walnut cabinet sells at Sotheby’s London for £550,000 ($704,662 USD).
The Timeless Whisky Collection has been so named as, while time is so significant to whisky maturation, the bottles in this auction are pieces of history suspended in time. Whisky ages in the barrel, but once in glass its age never increases. This collection showcases so many whiskies aged 50 years and above, some over 70 years old. While the time that these whiskies has matured is integral to their value, their age will never increase, while their legacies will endure.
Whiskies Exceeding 50 Years Old
There is a question that consistently occurs in whisky – does older mean better. The answer, simply is no, or at least not necessarily. However, one thing that is synonymous with age is rarity. Not many barrels in bonded warehouses in Scotland make it to the age of 50 due to the rate of alcohol evaporation (once a whiskies alcohol content drops below 40% it ceases to be classified as whisky). This rarity encourages value and the recent wave of highly aged whiskies have brought about staggering values at auction.
Behind age statement is the vintage of a whisky. Unlike rare wines, vintage is not always declared in whisky as it would require every element of the whisky that goes into the bottle to be from the same year of distillation. The Scotch Whisky industry’s tendency to vat whiskies from different barrels together to achieve their final assemblage means that often whiskies are built using casks from multiple vintages. This collection showcases a huge number of whiskies that proudly bear a single vintage statement.
1936Mortlach Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur’s Choice 35 Year Old 43.0 abv 1936 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 3,000 - 4,000 USD
View Lot 71
1938The Macallan Fine & Rare 31 Year Old 43.0 abv 1938 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 26,000 - 35,000 USD
View Lot 8
1940Glenlivet Gordon & MacPhail Generations 70 Year Old 45.9 abv 1940 (1 BT20)
Estimate: 6,000 - 9,000 USD
View Lot 45
1943Glenlivet Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 70 Year Old 49.1 abv 1943 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 22,000 - 30,000 USD
View Lot 46
1948Glen Grant Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 70 Year Old 48.6 abv 1948 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 10,000 - 14,000 USD
View Lot 37
1952Highland Park Gordon & MacPhail 40.0 abv 1952 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 700 - 1,000 USD
View Lot 353
1953Strathisla Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 43.5 abv 1953 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 6,000 - 10,000 USD
View Lot 76
1954Glenlivet Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 41.0 abv 1954 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 5,000 - 6,500 USD
View Lot 47
1955Strathisla 35 Year Old Gordon & MacPhail 40.0 abv 1955 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 600 - 900 USD
View Lot 78
1956Bowmore Sherry Casks 43.0 abv 1956 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 6,000 - 7,500 USD
View Lot 104
1957The Macallan 25 Year Old Anniversary Malt 43.0 abv 1957 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 4,000 - 5,500 USD
View Lot 6
1958Glen Garioch 46 Year Old 43.0 abv 1958 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 1,400 - 2,000 USD
View Lot 297
1959Glenfarclas 60 Year Old 40.9 abv 1959 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 12,000 - 17,000 USD
View Lot 338
1960Glenglassaugh 44 Year Old 41.7 abv 1960 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 1,400 - 2,000 USD
View Lot 339
1961Bowmore 50 Year Old 40.7 abv 1961 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 32,000 - 50,000 USD
View Lot 100
1962Auchentoshan 41 Year Old 40.2 abv 1962 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 2,200 - 3,000 USD
View Lot 358
1963Tamdhu 50 Year Old 55.6 abv 1963 (1 BT70, 1 BT5)
Estimate: 11,000 - 14,000 USD
View Lot 82
1964Bowmore Black The Last Cask 50 Year Old 41.0 abv 1964 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 38,000 - 55,000 USD
View Lot 99
1965Bowmore Premier Range 42 Year Old 43.6 abv 1965 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 8,000 - 12,000 USD
View Lot 103
1966Springbank Local Barley 32 Year Old 54.2 abv 1966 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 3,000 - 4,000 USD
View Lot 416
1967Loch Lomond 50 Year Old 46.2 abv 1967 (1 BT70, 1 BT5)
Estimate: 10,000 - 12,000 USD
View Lot 381
1968The Glendronach Recherche 44 Year Old 48.6 abv 1968 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 4,000 - 5,000 USD
View Lot 302
1969Dallas Dhu Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection 43.1 abv 1969 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 5,500 - 7,000 USD
View Lot 36
1970Glen Grant Duncan Taylor Tantalus 43 Year Old 48.0 abv 1970 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 1,000 - 1,500 USD
View Lot 40
1971Bunnahabhain 125th Anniversary Edition 35 Year Old 44.9 abv 1971 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 1,200 - 1,800 USD
View Lot 199
1972Ledaig Dùsgadh 42 Year Old 46.3 abv 1972 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 2,400 - 3,000 USD
View Lot 355
1973The Balvenie 43 Year Old 46.6 abv 1973 (1 BT75)
Estimate: 10,000 - 15,000 USD
View Lot 33
1974Ardbeg Double Barrel 1974 (2 BT75)
Estimate: 22,000 - 30,000 USD
View Lot 136
1975Tomatin Warehouse 6 Collection 46.5 abv 1975 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 2,000 - 2,600 USD
View Lot 90
1976Ardbeg Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice 43.0 abv 1976 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 450 - 600 USD
View Lot 143
1977Macallan Douglas Laing XOP 40 Year Old 45.2 abv 1977 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 3,500 - 4,500 USD
View Lot 25
1978Ben Nevis Single Cask 44 Year Old 40.0 abv 1966 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 1,400 - 1,800 USD
View Lot 287
1979Port Ellen 40 Year Old 9 Rogue Casks 50.9 abv 1979 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 5,000 - 6,500 USD
View Lot 248
1980Karuizawa Vintage Cask #6568 56.4 abv 1980 (1 BT70)
Estimate: 2,800 - 3,500 USD
View Lot 456