Sale FSA2022 #1

 

To really put our best foot forward in 2022, we’ll be starting the year with a look at the Macallan distillery and its French imports. The distillery’s long history of success makes it a particularly interesting case study and a look at the period in which it emerged and developed in France (1970-2000) as well as the distribution companies that contributed to its success is well worth our time. You’ll find lots of different bottles of the malt in this auction, from a range of vintages, bottled by various iconic players in the French market at the time.

This edition of FSA also features an exceptional range of expressions that includes a stunning Glenfarclas 1959, a Bowmore 1968, and two Yamazakis, one a 25 Year Old and the other a 1998 vintage. And, for those keen to develop a collection, American whiskey takes pride of place in the famous Antique Collection.

Finally, we also have something for cognac and Chartreuse lovers, with a superb selection that includes the cognacs AE D’OR No.3 and Louis XIII, and the Chartreuses Tarragone 1912-1913 and 1973-1983, as well as a selection from the Santa Tecla range.

Bidding is now open!

THE MACALLAN FRENCH IMPORTS

Since our first auction launched in late 2020, Macallan has consistently emerged as our leading Scottish malt in terms of value. The story of Macallan’s distribution in France pays witness to the energy and vision of both the distillery and its owners, who really took charge of the single malt’s image and development strategy in the country in the 1970s. And the quality of the bottles available in FSA auctions today reflects the brand’s strength and appeal on the French market over the last 50 years.

RETROSPECTIVE: “The Macallan distributed by”

Macallan’s distribution in France is a textbook case. It illustrates both the importance of demand—among not the general public but also businesses (business gifts)—and the proliferation of importers/distributors in a newly booming market, where specialist shops coexisted alongside the HORECA sector, small and large retailers, and off licences. It also reflects the boldness and persistence of the distillery’s owners, who positioned The Macallan as a premium single malt in a market that was nonetheless dominated by blends up until the late 1980s.

Of the hundred or so lots up for auction last year, no less than four different French distributors were find on The Macallan’s labels. They appeared one after the other in the period running from the 1970s until the late 1990s, each in its own way promoting The Macallan’s brilliance in France. The list might not be complete, but it is at least coherent:

Centrachat: a company with offices on Rue de Berne in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, who in the 1970s was the General Agent for France for blends such as Crawford and Hedge & Butler. In 1976/77, it also distributed The Macallan in an 8 year old version and a 1960 vintage. Vintage versions from this era were matured for between 15 and 17 years. In this 1960 version, ‘Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, Bottled at 80 Proof by Campbell, Hope & King, Elgin’ is written on the label. Centrachat was also the distributor for the Irish whiskey Old Bushmills.

Corade: a company with two registered offices. Rue de Jonquoy Paris 14 appeared on the Red Ribbon range for the vintages 1938, 1940 (bottled in 1981) and 1950. Rue Gramme, Paris 15 was then used on subsequent editions, including the Anniversary Malt 25 Year Old and the Royal Marriage release bottled in 1981, as well as the 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968 vintages. In 1987, Corade was still Macallan’s agent but seems to have lost distribution to Gouin in 1988.

Etablissements Gouin : a company with offices on Rue St Estèphe, Paris 12. Gouin took over distribution for the existing ranges from 1988 and in 1992/93 introduced the first 25 year old version in a collection of five M Tudor Crystal decanters, released in the vintages 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965 the following years. It was also Gouin who introduced the very first edition in the Replica series with Macallan The 1874 in 1996. In the same year, it lost distribution to Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Gouin was also the importer for Tamdhu.

Baron Philippe de Rothschild: a company with offices on Rue de la Boétie, Paris 8 who, for some 20 years from 1996, was the exclusive distributor for The Macallan in France. It was under their aegis that the Gran Reserva series was released in France, as well as the famous Blue Label 30 Year Old, followed by the 1949 crystal decanter, the Millennium 50 Year Old, the Fine & Rare vintage series and the Lalique collection.

In the mid-2000s, in response to very strong international demand, Macallan broke with its sacrosanct tradition of being “100% sherry matured” and introduce a new line named “Fine Oak”. As with any change in a brand’s style or packaging, overnight the 100% sherry ranges that had built The Macallan’s identity and renown became collectors’ items and dominated the auction market. In the same period, European harmonization and softening of the rules on the legal statements required on labels meant it was no longer mandatory to include the name of the importer-distributor. Some countries (Italy) nonetheless maintained—and even reintroduced (the United Kingdom)—customs seals to fight import tax fraud.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF FSA 2022 #1

As for every edition, we have a few highlights and rare bottles to recommend:

GLENFARCLAS 35 Year Old 1959 Cask Strength, Sherry Cask#1814, 52.6%, 70cl

This very first Cask Strength range from independent bottler Andrew Symington led to the creation of an uncountable number of gems. From 1988, when Signatory Vintage was first founded, to the mid-2000s, the range nicknamed Dumpy-Cask Strength by enthusiasts, was rarely out of the press.

From Laphroaig 1966 to Ardbeg 1967 and Springbank 1969, the leading distilleries (with the exceptions of Lagavulin, Glenmorangie and Glenfiddich) saw some of their greatest casks bottled in this range. Glenfarclas was no different! Two single cask versions #1813 and #1814 were bottled in 1995 with only 225 bottles released worldwide in the latter’s case.

BOWMORE 32 Year Old 1968 Anniversary Edition, 45.5%, 70cl

This is the first time this bottling has appeared in one of our auctions. A limited edition of 1,860 bottles worldwide, it was launched in 2000 by the distillery owners to celebrate Stnaley P Morrison’s 50th anniversary. Peat lovers be warned, however, like many other bottlings from the 1960s aged for over 30 years, this version is more exotic than it is peaty. It is nonetheless extraordinary!

YAMAZAKI 1998, Suntory Single Cask #CU 70066, Sherry Butt, 61%, 70cl

This very rare bottling for the Japanese market was matured in a sherry butt and bottled in 2012. Yamazaki is known for giving its partners and loyal customers single casks in various ranges, such as the Owner’s Cask and Single Cask ranges. But this edition could have been made for the distillery itself, unless it is a version for Isetan, who was given the sister cask #CU70067 in 2011 and which was almost identical in every way (maturation, bottling strength, etc.). Note that the cask #CU70065 was given to Izumiya for their 60th anniversary in 2013. Seasoned scouts take note! The bottle is numbered but does not state how many bottles were produced.

 

STARTING A COLLECTION IN 2022 WITH FSA #1

THE BUFFALO TRACE – ANTIQUE COLLECTION

In this edition of Fine Spirits Auction, we are delighted to have the chance to talk about one of the most-watched series in France over the last 20 years. And, as you might have guessed, we aren’t talking about a TV programme, but inside the pure product released from the warehouses of the Buffalo Trace distillery in Kentucky in The Antique Collection. Alongside Blanton’s, Van Winkle and Willett, it one of the most highly sought-after series in Europe and above all the United States.

The range is composed of five expressions released in annual limited editions. It was launched in 2000 with the three 45% ABV versions Eagle Rare 17 Years, Sazerac 18 Years and WL Weller 19 Years. From 2001 on, the series was distributed in France by SNPA (LMDW) with less than 60 bottles per expression allocated by Buffalo Trace in the early years!

EAGLE RARE 17 YEAR OLD: the Eagle Rare range features various versions, including a 10 year old and a single barrel (13 year old). The classic version in The Antique Collection is the 17 year old bottled at 45% ABV. The first bottling of this bourbon dates from 2000 (distillation 1982). The second is a 1984, launched in France in 2001. When it was first released, it was worth just over €100. Its online/store price is today estimated to be over €4,000.

SAZERAC 18 Year Old: a rye whiskey launched in conjunction with the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old. Alongside Van Winkle Rye and Wild Turkey Rye, it was one of the rarest rye whiskeys available in France in the early 2000s. The first vintages available date from the early 1980s. When it was first released, it was worth just over €150. Its online/store price is today estimated to be over €4,000.

WILLIAM LARUE (WL) WELLER: before the cask strength edition with no age statement, introduced for the first time in 2005 at 60.95% ABV, William Larue Weller (or WL Weller) was available in a 45% ABV version aged for 19 years. It was in this format that it first appeared in France in 2001 (1982 vintage). When it was first released, it was worth just over €180. Its online/store price is today estimated to be over €4,000. The 2005 cask strength version (60.95%) was released at €145. Its online/store price is today estimated to be over €5,000.

GEORGE T. STAGG: a 15 year old bourbon. The first expression dates from 2002. The first edition imported to France was the 2003 bottled at 71.35% ABV, with still just 60 or so bottles allocated for the entire country. When it was first released, it was worth just over €200. Its online/store price is today estimated to be over €3,000.

THOMAS H. HANDY SAZERAC: the last to join the Antique Collection. The first edition was introduced in 2006 (1998 vintage) and bottled at 66.35% ABV. It was released in France in the same year. When it was first released, it was worth just over €150. Its online/store price is today estimated to be over €4,000.

Available in FSA2022 #1

• Eagle Rare 17 years Of. Antique Collection bottled Spring 2014 45% (75 cl.)

• George T. Stagg Of. Antique Collection Barrel Proof - Release 2014 Limited Edition 69.05% (75 cl.)

• Sazerac 18 years Of. Antique Collection bottled Spring 2014 45% (75 cl.)

• Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Of. Antique Collection Barrel Proof - Release 2013 Limited Edition 64.2% (75 cl.)

• William Larue Weller Of. Antique Collection Barrel Proof - Release 2014 Limited Edition 70.1% (75 cl.)

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