How did Sotheby’s sell a whisky collection for $1.9m?

Sotheby’s New York location has just sold the highest-value whisky collection in a standalone auction in the US, achieving just shy of $2 million. 

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The collection

Named “The Timeless Whisky Collection”, there were over a staggering 497 bottles available. The Timeless Whisky Collection also contained a selection of some of the rarest bottles available on the market. In fact, it included the Lalique Six Pillars Collection by Macallan, which contains 6 single malts over 50 years old and boasts a market value of £360,000-£520,000.

In addition to the Lalique Six Pillars Collection, there were also 53 whisky magnums. For those unfamiliar with this terminology, a magnum bottle is a 1.5litre bottle and is produced only on rare occasions.

Other whiskies in the sale included Bowmore, Glenfarclas, Glenglassaugh Highland Park, Glen Grant, Tamdhu, Fettercairn, Glen Mhor, Loch Lomond, Linkwood, and The Glenlivet.

Read more on rare whisky auctions here: Is this Taliskers oldest single malt whisky?

Why is the collection so expensive?

There are a variety of factors that contributed to the cost of this collection. One reason the price tag was set so high was the numerous bottles that were 50 years or older. In total, thirty exceeded 50 Years of age. 

Since whisky evaporates slowly in its barrel while it ages, “aged” whisky is far more expensive because it has lost volume through evaporation and because it usually develops a more intense flavour and smoother mouth feel.

Additionally, the price was inflated due to the brands on offer. Many of these distilleries, such as Glenfarclas, The Glenlivet and Fettercairn have been producing whisky since the 1800s. Therefore when bottles come from these labels, many are also buying for the rich history intertwined with the spirit.

Read more: Ultra-Rare Whisky To Go To Auction In October 2023: Estimates Range From £5,000 to £500,000

Where did the collection come from?

The Timeless Whisky Collection came from an unnamed dedicated collector in California. 

The collector has wished to remain anonymous however he did allow Sotheby’s whisky team to come to his house in Los Angeles to perform an inspection. 

When the whisky team arrived he was happy to make a few comments about the collection he had built. “Whisky has been a passion of mine for many years. While I collect many things, cars, watches and art included, whisky has always been something that has held my attention. I will be sad to part with this collection, but it felt like the time was right for it to find a new home. I have still held back some of my favourite bottles to enjoy over the next few years.”

Read more about whisky collections: British collector sells whisky collection for £30,000

What Sotheby’s have to say

Sotheby’s were ecstatic to be part of the process and their head of Whisky and Spirits also took some time to make some comments on the auction. He would state that The Timeless Whisky Collection is “everything that collectors look for in whisky, from high-value, highly aged bottles, to limited outturn and large-format independent bottlings” and marked “another benchmark in the whisky auction market”.

So far this year, Sotheby has been treated to some of the rarest expressions available on the market. This year they had two ghost whisky casks go on auction from Port Ellen and Brora both selling for £875,000. Therefore, we know that it is unlikely to be the last big auction that Sotheby’s will showcase the world of whisky this year. 

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