Andy Simpson

Weekly Auction Watch by Andy Simpson – October 9, 2014

Bloodbath at Bonhams as Bears Take Control.

bloodbath at bonhams

Bonhams recent whisky auction on the 1st of October marked the start of a months lead up to Halloween. Some of the sales results were indeed the preserve of nightmares as the festival of Samhain got well underway in Edinburgh.

The leading bottles of the sale in the publicity material focussed on two veritable heavyweights – The Macallan 62 year old Lalique and the 70 year old Mortlach. If your publicity is directed at two big bottles like this, it’s always a good thing to see them hit the reserve and fly out of the door…. Neither of these did.

The horrors persisted as even the hardiest of bears moved aside to let the ghouls and demons take control of murdering the market –

A bottle of Ardbeg 1976 (cask 2390) sold for £920. Its previous sale was £1,750 yielding a 47% drop in value.

A 1954 Glenfarclas Family Casks bottle (cask 1260) achieved just £700 at Bonhams while later in the day one sold for £1,850 at Whisky-Online Auctions. I guess that’s good from a Bonhams buyers perspective, not so good if you’re the seller.

The gavel, or rusted blood stained axe in this case, hit just £950 for a bottle of 40 year old Glenlivet Atlantic. Its previous sale was £1,750 in August of this year – A 46% step-down in value with one slash of the axe…

On the flip side of this bed of nails, it wasn’t all gore and misery. There were some good results for certain bottles. Some of the bundled lots went for sky-high prices, in many cases far exceeding the value of the constituent bottles. A brace of Bruichladdich Valinches were good examples – A bottle each of the 2009 and 2010 Feis Ile releases sold for an exceptional £420. The most recent single sale values of these are £71 and £65 respectively.

A stunning example of an old 75 proof, lever cap Lagavulin made a heady £2,500, exceeding its previous best of £1,900 in 2011. As I was told just the other night ‘There ain’t no foolin’ with the Lagavoolin’.

Cask number 26.1 by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society sold for £1,800. Distillery number 26 is Clynelish, so why so much for a Clynelish? Because it’s ‘old’ Clynelish distilled in 1965 before the current distillery had been established…. That makes it Brora as we now know and love. The previous record for this bottle was £1,550.

The vast majority of Macallan values were either around current market values or slightly lower (lower mainly for the 18 year olds). That said, a bottle of 1974 Speymalt by Gordon & MacPhail showed impressive growth when it sold for £390. The low point for this bottle was £123 in 2011.

Older Laphroaig continued to see huge demand as a bottle of the 1980 27 year old Oloroso matured (972 bottles) sold for £850, more than doubling its 2009 hammer price of £400.

So like the gore soaked blade of Jason’s Machete there were many up’s and down’s…. some blood was spilled but there were some hero’s too. Interesting times for whisky values….

Until next week.