The third auction of the year was an exciting one, with lots knocking down at an average 25% above starting bids. While more popular bottles struggled to get off the ground, other less obvious choices received a flurry of bids and excellent results in return.
After a slight slowdown following its sharp rise last year, Springbank was back on form, with strong hammer prices often near or above high estimates. Special editions such as Springbank 25 Year Old 1992 #118 and Springbank 14 Year Old 2002 Bourbon Wood did particularly well this edition. Other high-ranking distilleries like Ardbeg, Macallan and its Decades range, and GlenDronach’s single casks also saw impressive results.
In the world of closed distilleries, Port Ellen stood out with a 7th Release going for above its high estimate, as did a Glenugie 33 Year Old 1977 from Signatory Vintage, a Gordon & MacPhail Rosebank 1990 and a Glen Albyn 26 Year Old 1975 from the Rare Malts range. Bringing together an appealing trio of rarity, history and high quality, closed distilleries remain extremely popular.
Independent bottlers also played their cards right, with Signatory Vintage’s Bowmores and a Clynelish 1973 from the Prestonfield range, a Bowmore from Duncan Taylor and a Macallan from Murray McDavid all doing well. As did Gordon & MacPhail, with two single casks of Strathisla and five Longmorns all catching bidders’ attention. A special mention goes to two Longmorn 1973 single casks, a Strathisla 1967 and a Glenlivet 1965, all of which exceeded their high estimates.
This auction saw many top-flight Japanese whiskies under the hammer, notably including a large part of the 36 Views of Mount Fuji series (Fugaku-sanjūrokkei). Interestingly, more recent editions did better than their more venerable counterparts, perhaps reflecting an appetite among bidders for less expensive bottles with a high potential for appreciation.
At Nikka, Miyagikyo 20 Year Old 1989 made a rare appearance and also came close to its high estimate. Suntory’s recently released Tsukuriwake range was equally well-received, with only the Mizunara bottling failing to reach its high estimate. Once again, less-well-known and more recent editions attracted the most interest, to the detriment of some other outstanding but less affordable bottles.
The hype around French rum still shows no sign of letting up, driven by brands like La Favorite and its many limited editions, J.M, and a stunning Neisson 19 Year Old that knocked down above its high estimate. Other distilleries like Trois Rivières and Bally struggled to garner the same interest, but we predict it’s only a matter of time before they make it onto bidders’ radars.
Outside the Caribbean, Savanna (Reunion Island) has also been on a winning streak in recent times, with a number of high hammer prices, including the Savanna 2006 Cask #502 which, despite its very conservative estimate, received a large number of bids and fetched €590.
Results were excellent for independent bottlers, with Velier leading the pack. All the bottlings from Appleton’s Hearts Collection went for above their estimates. The Karukera from the Flora Antillarum range and Enmore 1994 The Wild Parrot both annihilated their estimates, as did a bottling from Chantal Comte.
Chartreuse and cognac
After slowing down slightly in recent months, Chartreuse found renewed momentum with many high bids coming close to their high estimates, whether for the 2021 bottling of the Cuivre edition, the M.O.F bottlings or the V.E.P bottlings, all did well. Although less present at this auction, old Chartreuses bottlings—in particular two El Cumbres bottled between 1951 and 1960—also made quite a splash.
Heading to cognac, the Paradis edition of Hennessy easily exceeded its high estimate, confirming buyers’ taste for outstanding cognac decanters. And, finally, in the world of Armagnac, a Château de Percenade 1893 with a fairly cautious valuation attracted a healthy number of bids and went for above its estimate, proving that a modest starting bid can sometimes be in the best interests of both buyers and sellers.