FSA2022 #2 - OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

 

A particularly rich and unusual selection of bottles awaits you in this, our second auction of the year. Whisky geeks and long-standing devotees will be rubbing their hands together with glee when they see the huge choice of bottlings available from the catalogues of two major players in the French malt industry, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and, from the 1990s, Le Clan des Grands Malts.

The latest edition of Fine Spirits Auction also celebrates the work of a French collector, whose selection of around a hundred or so bottles offers a detailed overview of the distribution industry in mainland France from the late 1970s to the present day. In this auction we also look at the strong bond between independent bottler Cadenhead, who took its first cautious steps in our auctions in 2021, and the Springbank distillery and its malts Hazelburn and Longrow.

Finally, in our Highlights section, we recommend a Hibiki 35 Year Old Butterfly Design, a 1940 Chartreuse, 1948 Domaine de Courcelles and a selection of Delamain 1875 Grande Champagnes.

The auctions keep coming, but no two are the same!

 


THE SCOTCH MALT WHISKY SOCIETY

Founded in 1983 by Phillip Hills (author of Appreciating Whisky, Ed. Collins, 2000), The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was created with the intention of bottling casks from across Scotland exclusively for members of the club. The club was first set up in Leith, not far from the centre of Edinburgh, in a former bonded warehouse named The Vaults. In 1983, four casks were bottled (Bowmore and Glenfarclas). Then, until 1986, the club bottled around 20 casks every year, soon celebrating its 100th cask just as it turned ten. Two unique features of these releases were their high bottling strengths and the code system attributed to each distillery, designed to allow a semblance of anonymity: Glenfarclas (1.), Glenlivet (2.), Bowmore (3.) etc. Several more branches of the club quickly opened in Europe, including France, and the rest of the world. The club finally branched out in 2002 and began bottling whiskies from Japan, with a handful of Yoichi casks, followed in 2003 by bottlings from Yamazaki and in 2005 from Miyagikyo. As the Society’s member base grew, it attracted the attention of several businesses in the industry, including Glenmorangie Plc., who bought the club in 2004, before it became part of LVMH. In 2015, the club was bought by a group of independent investors.

More than a hundred of its bottlings are available in FSA 2022 #2, including a handful of blends that come in addition to its classic single malts. One of the most sought-after is the (29.) Laphroaig 27 Year Old 1989: SMWS 27 Year old 1989, Cask no. 29.234, Smoked and Salted Toffee Apples.

 


LE CLAN DES GRANDS MALTS

Founded in France in 1997, Le Clan des Grands Malts brings together a group of single malt fans who not only organize tastings and trips but have also bottled more than 20 single casks for club members under the label Le Clan des Grands Malts. Behind this label lies the independent bottler Ian Macleod, who is also responsible for the Chieftain’s and Dun Bheagan ranges, to name but a few. The club also quickly developed a connection with the French distribution company Dugas, the importer and distributor for Ardbeg and Springbank. Indeed, it was for this same club that Ardbeg 1975 Cask #4701 was bottled by the distillery with the company’s support in 2002.

Our top tip for FSA 2022 #2: Springbank 27 Years 1974 Ian Macleod Hogshead no. 2284 - One of 158

 


FRENCH IMPORTERS & DISTRIBUTORS RETROSPECTIVE

The angle taken by this collector is so unusual it merits a little thought and consideration. This selection of some hundred bottles offers a cross-section of all that was imported to and distributed in France from across the world (Scotland, Ireland, USA, blends, malts, bourbon, etc.) between the late 1970s and the present day. Its large but not exhaustive list of importers offers a snapshot of the market at the time—a market that was dynamic, competitive and laying its foundations—and includes names such as GMC, Marie-Brizard, Cusenier, SNPA, Sovema, Auxil, Remy, P.B.G., GECO, Mahler-Besse, Taittinger, Deutz, Mumm-Corima, Simon Frères, Sovedi, France Champagne, Gouin, Corade, Barton & Guestier, De Salignac, De Venoge, Dugas, and Besserat de Bellefon.

Some of the most exciting bottlings in FSA 2022 #2:

Prestonfield's Campbeltown 20 Year Old 1967 Sherry Wood Casks no. 3131-3136 SNPA Import: an official version of Springbank bottled for The Prestonfield Hotel in Edinburgh before the label was granted exclusively to the independent bottler Signatory Vintage. Imported by SNPA (Société Nouvelle de Produit Alimentaire, La Maison du Whisky’s distribution company).

Laphroaig 10 years Of. GECO Import: a bottling for the French market from the same era as the Italian Cinzano versions from the mid-1980s.

Caol Ila 1972 Jas Gordon & Co Auxil Import: Jas Gordon is in fact another name for the independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail, which used different business names and labels so it could work with several distributors in a single region.

 


HIGHLIGHTS OF FSA 2022 #2

As in every edition, we have a few highlights and rare bottles to recommend in this auction:

HIBIKI 35 Year Old Arita & Kutani 47%, 70 cl: introduced in late 2016 by Suntory, this ceramic decanter holds a version of Hibiki aged for at least 35 years. A limited edition of 150 bottles worldwide.

DOMAINE DE COURCELLES 1948 Vieux Rhum 50%, 70 cl: a rarity if ever there was one, this Courcelles 1948 is sure to catch bidders’ attention, both for its general condition and its high bottling strength, promising some great tastings if it doesn’t end up part of a collection. Several bottlings of this vintage exist, including a 45% ABV version in a 70 cl screw cap format. This particular example is a SARL Remora Pap bottling. 

 

YAMAZAKI 1991 Sherry Butt no. 1S70427: a single cask bottled for Futakata, one of Suntory’s Japanese clients—extremely rare in Europe.

 

Chartreuse 10 years 1940 Of. Vieillissement Exceptionnel One of 800: Chartreuses V.E.P. (Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé) are very popular among enthusiasts. This Chartreuse “Vieillissement Exceptionnel” is something akin to their ancestor and aged in oak barrels for ten years. It contains a liqueur produced in 1940, the year the monks returned to the monastery from which they had been expelled in 1903. Two editions exist, one Green and one Yellow, each producing 800 bottles.

 


STARTING A COLLECTION IN 2022 WITH FSA #2

SPRINGBANK, CADENHEAD, & GLENGYLE

Behind these three names lies just one family known for being fiercely independent, the Mitchell family. Its story began in 1837 and is one of great success, despite the many obstacles it has faced and overcome in almost 200 years.

It was in 1969, thanks to the post-war boom, that the Mitchell family first made a purchase that would completely change the course of its future, acquiring the independent bottler William Cadenhead (Aberdeen) founded in 1842 by George Duncan. It was not until 1977 that the first bottlings were released in its famous small brown bottle, before a new range dubbed The Authentic Collection appeared in 1989.

In 1973, the Mitchells decided to equip Springbank with a peated alter ego named Longrow, a malt produced in very small quantities that became a cult hit, with any version distilled between 1973 and 1975 continuing to fetch ever-increasing prices (nothing remains from the period 1975-1986). Then, in 1997, the family once again decided to innovate, this time creating a triple-distilled, Lowland-style malt named Hazelburn.

Finally, in 2000, the Mitchells bought the site of the former Glengyle distillery next to Springbank and began distillation in 2004. This latest edition would become the malt Kilkerran.

 Some of the most exciting bottlings in FSA 2022 #2:

Springbank 16 ans 1999 Local Barley One of 9,000: the Local Barley range enjoys legendary status among many enthusiasts. It was introduced in 1988 with a version distilled in 1967 (in a tall bottle). It was, however, the 1966 versions released in dumpy bottles between 1990 and 2000 that really established the distillery’s name. Since then, the range has been developed to include much younger versions that nonetheless stay true to the initial approach and use locally grown barley.

Longrow 21 Year Old 1994 Single Cask, One of 230, Springbank Open Day 2016

Hazelburn Triple Distilled 13 Year Old 2003, One of 12,000

Kilkerran 15 Year Old 2004 Single Cask Oloroso Wood - One of 246

Highland Park 25 Year Old Small Batch - Cadenhead

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER !

Every month, our newsletter will land in your inbox; a way to build your knowledge and enjoyment of spirits.
Latest news, informative articles, tasting notes, and top tips will all be yours!

Expertise

EVALUATION

100% of the whisky and spirits on offer are evaluated by our specialists. Guaranteed authenticity.
Stockage & Livraison

STORAGE & DELIVERY

Storage in our warehouse, secure packaging, insured delivery, within 72 hours of auction closure.
Sécurité

SECURITY

Guarantee covering auction proceedings and regulations enforced by a licensed auctioneer.