Each new edition of Fine Spirits Auction brings its own share of very rare bottlings and releases. This edition has seen the first appearance of two extremely rare bottles, a SKELDON 1973 (Demerara, Velier) and a YAMAZAKI 1979 Mizunara (The Cask of Yamazaki #RF1037).
YAMAZAKI 1979 Mizunara Cask no. RF1037 Suntory: a 2008 limited edition of 294 bottles. One of the oldest Yamazaki ever bottled, with the oldest known vintages being from 1960 and 1977. Only five bottlings were released for the year 1979 between 2002 and 2008. This 100% Mizunara Wood would be the centrepiece of any collection.
SKELDON 1973 32 Year Old Full Proof Barrels SWR Velier: a 2005 limited edition of 544 bottles. The oldest Skeldon ever bottled, from Italian bottler Velier’s stocks.
Although this auction’s highlights hinge around Caroni, Demerara Rum (Velier), Chichibu and Springbank, it’s worth taking a look back at the history behind the growing number of bottlings created specially for French distributors in the 80s and 90s—including Auxil Soc. (a key player in the distribution of premium malts in France).
First came the Celtic Label range from Jas Gordon & Co (aka Gordon & MacPhail). Generally releasing bottlings at a lower ABV, Auxil was the alter ego of the Italian importer Meregalli, who offered daringly high bottling strengths. Caol Ila 1972 and Mortlach 1966 Celtic Label alone would have been stand-out products from two of the industry’s most important years. But Auxil didn’t stop there, also representing Cadenhead, another iconic bottler of the era, distributing this edition of Ord 1962 22 Year Old Dumpy Brown in France in 1985. The company also handled distribution of the Dun Eideann label (Signatory Vintage).
And, in addition to independent bottlers, Auxil also represented some superb distilleries. It had a particularly close relationship with Morrison Bowmore, distributing Glen Garioch and Bowmore, for which there are three vintages up for auction, 1967, 1969 and 1974. In the 90s, they became Springbank’s distributors, with the excellent 21 Year Old Dark Sherry in a Dumpy & Parchment Label bottle. And Auxil’s name is also found on more niche distilleries, such as Longmorn and its 15 Year Old (43%, Cream Label). Their hunting ground didn’t stop at the Atlantic, however, and it also distributed, among others, the 15 year old Johnny Drum in the same era as the last stocks from the Willet distillery (70s) found in this edition.
Introduced by the Springbank distillery in 1990, the Barley Malt series was soon renamed Local Barley. Focusing mainly on the vintage 1966 (just some 50 single casks), it opened in 2001 with a 1965 vintage and a new graphic identity. After disappearing for 50 years, it made its comeback in 2016 as a small batch edition with a 1999 vintage aged for 16 years. Since then a new edition has been released every year aged aged for around ten years. Although it remains a safe bet for collectors, growth in 2022 has nevertheless been uneven.
Of the distilleries founded in the 21st century, few managed to become both everyday hits and collectables. Chichibu is perhaps the only exception to the rule. From its classic small batch editions to distributor single casks and commemorative small batches such as the Paris and London Edition, everything from Chichibu is likely to increase in value in the immediate or long-term future. Be prepared for peaks and troughs in the medium-term, however.
An overview of Caroni’s latest results, standing alongside Yamazaki, The Macallan and Karuizawa as one of Fine Spirits Auction’s leading distilleries.
Caroni 2000, 17 Year Old 110 Proof Velier (Limited Edition of 582 bottles, 2017): with an average €1,180 per bottle since the start of the year, this edition is popular with bidders due to its strong potential for price rises (+23% at FSA NOV 2022).
Caroni 2000 Millennium Velier (2015): the first magnum released in 2015. A limited edition of 1,420 bottles worldwide. One of the most underpriced bottles in the range as things stand. It has now hit the €1,770 mark, seeing 70% growth since our last auction.
Caroni Classic: a slight drop has been seen among classic 12, 15, 17 and 21 year old versions at this edition.