Press Release

Sotheby’s to Hold its Largest Online Spirits SaleOver 250 Lots, with Whiskies from Scotland, Japan and India

By Sotheby's
First Offering at Auction of Set #1 of the First Release of The Prima & Ultima Collection
The New Series of Single Vintage Malt Scotch Whiskies
*Proceeds from the Sale To be Donated to Diageo’s Charity Partner WaterAid*

Open for Bidding from 26 August to 1 September

From The Macallan’s most sought after releases to an array of rare Italian import Scotch, including the highly acclaimed Samaroli Laphroaig 1970, and the first full set of the new Prima & Ultima Collection, Sotheby’s online Distilled sale features some of the very rarest whiskies to be offered at auction. Comprising 267 lots with a combined pre-sale estimate in excess of £850,000, the auction will open for bidding at 2pm BST on 26 August and run until 1 September.

“We are thrilled to present our second spirits auction of the month and our largest online auction, with over 250 lots. The quality and variety of bottles offered in this sale are a testament both to the strength of the current whisky market and of our success in developing our online auction format throughout 2020.”
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist

The Macallan Fine & Rare Collection


The sale includes 94 Macallan lots, with a combined pre-sale estimate of £619,460 - 840,450, led by The Macallan Fine & Rare Collection featuring the most iconic whiskies from The Macallan distillery. The collection includes vintages spanning 1940 to 1976, with estimates ranging from £10,000-14,000 to £35,000-48,000 per bottle. In addition, a selection of the 5cl press release samples from the original launch of the Fine & Rare Collection, which were sent out to journalists together with the press release, are estimated at £800-1,200 each.

The Macallan Fine & Rare Collection, 1940 - 1976
“At Sotheby’s we have enjoyed a great relationship with The Macallan Fine & Rare series, setting the record for the highest value ever achieved for a bottle of whisky at auction with the Macallan Fine & Rare 1926.”
Jonny Fowle

The Macallan Fine and Rare 56 Year Old 51.5% 1945, est. £35,000-48,000

This Macallan Fine and Rare 56 Year Old is the second oldest age statement in the Fine & Rare Collection after the record-breaking 60 year old 1926. Macallan was one of the only distilleries to operate during World War II. It was forced to use local peat in their production, due to the rationing of commercial coal use. As a result, this distillate represents a very different character to modern Macallan, and with only 152 bottles of this whisky known to exist, this sale presents an exceptionally rare opportunity to acquire such a highly prized bottle.


As well as the Macallan Fine & Rare set, this Distilled sale also marks a momentous occasion in the world of collectable whisky, by featuring Set #1 of the first release of The Prima & Ultima Collection, following the inaugural launch of a new series of single vintage malt whiskies that has only just been announced by distillery owner Diageo. With purchase only through appointed agents, and with pre-order registrations looking to far outstrip the available 238 sets, Sotheby’s sale of set #1 – signed by Dr Jim Beveridge OBE, one of the world’s most respected whisky makers – is the first opportunity to acquire this collection at auction (est. £16,000-28,000). The winning bidder will also secure an exclusive whisky tasting experience with Dr Jim Beveridge.

The sale marks Sotheby’s first ever collaboration with Diageo for charity, and proceeds will be donated to Diageo’s charity partner WaterAid.

Each rare Single Malt Scotch Whisky in the collection is “the first and the last” of its kind, drawn from a small number of casks from celebrated distilleries including Port Ellen, Cragganmore, Mortlach, Singleton of Dufftown, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Talisker and Clynelish. These eight bottles are the first in an on-going series of single vintage malts, with further editions of Prima & Ultima to be made available in the coming years.


The sale is distinguished by a number of independent bottlings, including three bottles of Laphroaig Samaroli 16 Year Old 1970 (est. £9,000-13,000). The whisky was scored 95 points by Serge Valentin, a well-known name on the whisky scene, one of the highest ratings he has ever given.

“Silvano Samaroli’s bottles are among the most legendary ever produced and this 1970 Laphroaig is undoubtedly my number 1 whisky of all time. It is so rare to see three bottles of this whisky in a single auction”.
Emmanuel Dron, Sotheby’s Whisky Consultant, owner of The Auld Alliance whisky bar and author of Collecting Scotch Whisky

Two exquisite releases from Gordon & MacPhail comprise Glen Grant Gordon & MacPhail 62 Year Old Mr. George Centenary Edition 1956 (est. £5,500-7,500, illustrated far left), one of the oldest Glen Grant whiskies ever released, and Longmorn Gordon & MacPhail 53 Year Old Private Collection 1966 (est. £4,300-5,500).

Glen Grant Gordon & MacPhail 62 Year Old Mr. George Centenary Edition 1956
Longmorn Gordon & MacPhail 53 Year Old Private Collection 1966


The sale features an exceptional selection of Japanese whiskies, not least 28 Karuizawa lots with a combined pre-sale estimate of £79,300 - 104,100, made up of Single Cask bottlings and vattings from Japan’s most popular closed distillery. Earlier this year in London, Sotheby’s set the record for the most valuable Japanese Whisky ever sold when a bottle of Karuizawa 1960 achieved £363,000.

Karuizawa Sapphire Geisha 36 Year Old Cask #5077

Stand-out highlights include Karuizawa Sapphire Geisha 36 Year Old Cask #5077 (est. £11,000-15,000) and The Yamazaki LMDW Private Cask #3T70070 (est. £7,000-9,000).

The Yamazaki LMDW Private Cask #3T70070


Eleven Port Ellen lots, with a combined pre-sale estimate of £28,950 - 39,250, led by Port Ellen 1979 40 Year Old Casks Of Distinction #1883 (est. £20,000-26,000.

The Original Balvenie “Tun 1401” – The Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch #1 (est. £4,000-6,000).

SMWS 26 Malts Collection (est. £4,500-6,000).

Notes to Editors

Auction World Record Prices for Spirits

After launching our Spirits business last year this segment of the market saw the fastest growth with three new auction world record prices.

London, March 2020
Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 1960, $435,273

London, May 2020
Two bottles of The Dalmore 62 Year Old, $324,445 (per bottle)

London, May 2020
The Gautier Cognac 1762, $144,525

Sotheby’s holds producer records for: Bowmore, Springbank, Brora, Samaroli and Glenfiddich.

London, October 2019
The Macallan Fine & Rare 60-Year-Old 1926, $1.9 million


London | Matthew Floris || +44 (0)20 7293 6000

About Sotheby’s Wine
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