This sixth edition of Fine Spirits Auction sees the addition of many renowned brands and distilleries rarely found at auction. From rum to whisky, cognac, Armagnac and Chartreuse, this development reflects the vitality of the French spirits market across every category. Now more than ever, Fine Spirits Auction offers the chance to discover new bottles and gain an introduction to the world of collecting with a wealth of great opportunities.
Rum is now the second most popular and sought-after category for Fine Spirits Auction bidders. In this sixth edition, around a hundred lots have been brought together, representing a wide range of rum-producing countries. From Barbados to Cape Verde, Cuba, Jamaica, India, Nepal, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, the products of some 20 different nations are all available in this sale. Of course, the leading member of the contingent remains France, with a particularly interesting selection available from Martinique, where the three distilleries Bally, Trois Rivières and Rhum J.M. claim the lion’s share in vintages covering the period 1929-2005. Hot on their tails come various other gems, such as La Favorite Cuvée Spécial (always a safe bet in our sales) and St James (another heavy-hitter). But the ones to really keep an eye on are St Etienne and Lapalun. Saint Etienne made quite a name for itself in our last sale, with the same vintage, 1959, fetching over €3,000 incl. VAT. Let’s see if this second bottle causes the same reaction among collectors, whose attention might well be focused instead on the Lapalun 1952, which is extremely difficult to find at auction. The two vintages 1975 and 1969 in the Grands Rums Charles Simmonet range are also worth keeping in your sights.
Watch out for Cuba, too, and its selection of brands from the 1970s and 1980s, including Matusalem 15 Years and Anejo, Caribbean Club 5 Years, Ron Santiago Anejo 45 Anniversario, and other more recent bottlings. More generally, the exotic and unlikely origins of some of these lots are another great impetus to start your own rum collection.
Other great treasures in this auction:
The latest edition of Fine Spirits Auction has its fair share of big-hitting bottles, many appearing for the first time.
Other giants of FSA #6
When it comes to Japan, the selection once again shows the strategic role played by French and European markets in the renaissance of the “collectable” aspect of Japanese whiskies in the international scene. This dimension emerged shortly after the 2008 crisis, with the first expressions from two now-legendary closed distilleries, Hanyu and Karuizawa, appearing at the end of 2007. Until then, the market had been dominated by two groups, Asahi (Nikka Whisky) and Suntory. The ending of this duopoly also came down to the initiative and momentum of a few Japanese entrepreneurs who decided to rebuild an industry which, for several decades, had been in the throws of a wave of closures. Some of the gems in this edition include a few cards from the Ichiro’s Malt Card Series, including Hanyu 1986 King of Hearts and the very first bottlings of Karuizawa introduced to France in 2007, including Karuizawa 1992.
Finally, Ireland and the United States made brief inroads in the early 1980s and have a few rarities to offer, including:
GLEN GRANT THROUGH ITS VINTAGES, A TEXTBOOK CASE
Glen Grant—which was the Chivas Brothers group’s flagship distillery and is now owned by Campari—was, alongside Glenlivet, famously one of the two founding pillars of Chivas whisky’s international success. But Glen Grant has always been an important player in the single malt market—a pioneer like Macallan, Laphroaig and Springbank but with a far more accessible style. It is this style which, during the 30-year post-war boom, built the distillery’s renown as an accessible, rich and silky malt offering consistent quality. Although Glen Grant has now become a leading brand, the many possibilities and opportunities it offers for building a collection make it well worth investigation.
Some will be interested in collecting vintage and non-vintage official versions from various bottlers in the period starting in the 1950s and running to the late 1970s, such as Robert Watson, Cadenhead, R.Stevenson Taylor and S&J McCarroll, or Gordon & MacPhail and Campbell Hope & King for versions with a stronger sherry influence. These are joined by the bottlings from its various different owners, including Moray Bonding for Chivas, and the Glen Grant Distillery Company. Others will concentrate on versions aged entirely in sherry casks, mostly commonly found among independent bottlers such as Gordon & MacPhail. Note that all of these bottlings used the same label, depicting two Highlanders sat at a cask, a rifle in the hand of one and a sword in the hand of the other.
Another avenue to explore—and the one we recommend for this sixth edition of Fine Spirits Auction—is the range of different Glen Grant vintages released over the years. This particular characteristic of the distillery became commonplace in the late 1960s thanks to the Italian market and one importer in particular, Armando Giovinetti, a great trend-setter in the distribution market for the Italian peninsula. Although the notion of vintage has little relation to a whisky’s quality, its use reflects the desire to anchor the malt in its history, despite the relatively young age of the expressions available, generally ranging from five to ten years. It was a way of responding to the different ways whisky was enjoyed, such as in cocktails and long drinks, while simultaneously affirming the intrinsic organoleptic qualities of the whisky when served neat. Less importantly but no less interestingly, this avenue also offers collectors the chance to observe the evolution of bottle shapes, stoppers and glass markings unique to the industrial vigour of the era.
And with that, bidding is now open!