The fourth edition of FSA saw more than 650 lots up for auction for the very first time— 77% more than when it first launched in November 2020.
149 lots went for their lower estimate, more than 344 for over, and 133 went without a buyer.
The bottles with the most impressive results were the Hanyu 2000 Five of Spades and the Laphroaig 31 Year Old 1974, which both exceeded their upper estimates and the prices recently fetched among our European colleagues. This is becoming something of a trend for our most exceptional bottles, with The Macallan 1983 Handwritten going for over €14,160 in April and the Yamazaki 1993 The Elephant for over €11,800.
This edition also featured an “unidentified whisky”, the Japanese Malt 1981, Single Cask #120.1, well known to collectors and nicknamed Hakushu. Suntory granted this increasingly rare vintage of single cask (the distillery was only 8 years old at the time) to independent bottlers The Scotch Malt Whisky Society in 2003. It is particularly rare at auction (the last time it made an appearance was in 2015, when it went for approximately €900) and was the subject of a bitter battle, seeing 36 bids before finally going under the hammer for more than its upper estimate of €3,658.
Against all expectations and despite its low fill level, the Blanton’s Cask #129 fetched over €472. For several years now, the brand has attracted quite a following. Collectors have been hot on the heels of the various limited editions popping up and many have found their way back to the United States.
To encourage bidding, FSA #3 saw the careful introduction of a handful of lots with no reserve price. For this fourth edition, we took the approach even further, with 6% of lots up for auction with no reserve price (vs 1% in FSA #3).
The results were unsurprising and no less indisputable. 100% of the lots offered with no reserve price found a buyer—for all distilleries, brands and categories across the board. While winning bids ranged from €13 at their lowest to €142 at their highest, more than 400 bids were placed for just under 40 bottles—meaning 14% of bids were placed on 6% of lots.
From a buyer’s perspective, this category can be a hotbed of great deals and an excellent way to learn and discover new tastes. Nothing challenges the taste buds like tasting old spirits bottled in the 60s, 70s and 80s that offer the chance to experience styles and production methods from days gone by. And it can also be a great way to start a collection. From that perspective, some of the opportunities offered in FSA #4 included:
Glen Isla 5 Year Old, Pure Vatted Malt, Bulloch Lade: a blended malt from a 1971 rotation (when the bottles were boxed before shipping), meaning all the single malts found in the expression were distilled before 1966, a time when Bulloch Lade owned Caol Ila.
And, in the same vein, the blend White Horse 100% Scotch Whisky, Carpano Import from the mid-1970s, a period in which it was still marked by the presence of Lagavulin. In the 1990s, Lagavulin gradually began to disappear from the blend due to its success as a single malt.
A real curiosity if ever there were one, this bottling dubbed King Barley 12 Years 1996, Zlata Salima, from the Czech Republic, was imported to and distributed in France in the mid-90s. At the time, it had not yet developed a following.