Have you ever wondered what the whisky experts and auction curators would have their eye on at auction? Well, we asked our Head of Auction Content, Joe Wilson, to let us know! So here it is, Joe has selected five whiskies in The Perfect Collection: Part Two that he would have his eye on.
When Macallan distillery assumed the responsibility for bottling its own single malt in 1980, its intent to position itself as a prestige brand were immediately evident and it was quick to set its stall out with the “handwritten label” releases of 1938, 1940 and 1950 vintages. Then chairman, Allan Schiach, came up with the idea to tie red ribbons around the bottles in order to denote their age and quality. A 1973 vintage, this is the youngest of the bottles in this style, however it is by far the rarest. It was bottled in 1983 for the 10th anniversary of The Opimian Society, a non-profit cooperative in Canada who set out to increase the quality and diversity of wine and spirits there. They truly nailed the brief here. If the 1926 Fine & Rare is somewhat out of your budget, this might just be the holy grail bottle to take a Macallan collection to the next level instead.
This was bottled by Mayor, Sworder & Co, a fine wine merchant from London. Up until the mid-1960s, the company also had many dealings in spirits, bottling both whisky and gin. The firm contracted blends from Bulloch Lade, but also produced their own label called Red Monogram. They regularly received fillings of Glenlivet and Ardbeg for its production, and in earlier years, sought after Longmorn malt as well. These casks would occasionally be bottled as single malts for the company's more discerning customers, as was the case here. Their Glenlivet was often pre-vatted for blending purposes, so bottled as a single malt here without a vintage or age statement. This was bottled at some point in the early 1950s, prior to their move from Budge Row to Southwark Street in 1955. The early reverence for this now iconic Speyside distillery is clear in the wax dipping of these bottle tops, a practice the firm usually reserved for its high-end vintage port. Their relationship with Glenlivet was long lasting, and there are bottlings of their single malt by the English firm dating up to the 1990s.
Mis-spelled on the label at "Jamieson's," this is a single pot still Irish whiskey, the historic style of production from the Bow Street distillery of John Jameson & Sons. It was distilled in 1963, just three years before the amalgamation of Jameson with fellow Dublin firm, John Power & Son, and Cork Distillers to form the Irish Distillers group. This new company was to consolidate its operations at a new distillery in Midleton which they opened in 1975, with Bow Street closing in preparation for it in 1971. This bottle is not just from a lost distillery, but represents a lost style for Jameson’s, which Irish Distillers had rebranded as blended Irish whiskey in 1966, vatting Bow Street casks with grain from the Coffey still at Power’s John’s Lane distillery. As rare as it was historic, this is a Jameson’s that was just as unfamiliar in 1991 as it is today. Released for the 150th anniversary of Scotland oldest independent bottler, Wm. Cadenhead, there were two Bow Street whiskies in the collection alongside four from another lost Irish distillery, Daly’s Tullamore.
Velier was founded by Casimir Chaix in Genoa in 1947 as a wine and spirits importer and distributor. By the 1980s they were still a small family-company with less than ten staff, but this all changed in 1986 when it was purchased by Luca Gargano. A former brand ambassador for Saint James rum, he has since turned them into one of, if not the most influential player in the cane spirits industry. The company has always had a keen eye for single malt as well though, importing their first Velier branded bottlings in 1992. This is one of them and was selected from the legendary warehouses of Signatory Vintage. Its director, Andrew Symington, is well-rehearsed in his admiration for dark sherry-casked single malt, and this Glendronach is a prime example of one of Scotland’s finest distilleries, and one of its most significant independent bottlers doing what they do best.
Following the acquisition of a controlling stake in Bowmore distillery by Suntory in 1994, a celebration dinner was arranged the following year at its Chateau Lagrange winery in Bordeaux. This was a bringing together of two of the Japanese firm's finest assets in the wine and spirits industry, and the event was dubbed "The Auld Alliance Reception" after the historic friendship between Scotland and France which dates back to the late 13th century. Incredibly rare, this is one of just 75 bottles given to attendees of the dinner in 1995. It represents the genesis of an important relationship between the Chateau and the distillery which is as strong as ever to this day. French oak casks are regularly shipped to the No.1 Vaults in Islay, producing a string of high-profile releases over the years.