When The Macallan 1926 is auctioned at Bonhams on March 6, it could conceivably push the paddles beyond £700,000. The 1926 has earned mythical status since it first emerged in 1986, even then 40 bottles of the 60-year-old commanded a £20,000 price tag.
Over ensuing years these bottles were lost, found, stored and sheltered, and as the dust settled and was subsequently blown away, they’ve crept out of cupboards to hysterical fanfare.
Indeed, when a 1926 featuring a hand-painted design from Irish artist Michael Dillon fetched US$1.5m at Christies last November, it confirmed the significance of not only the spirit, but also the whisky auction.
The Macallan story is not news for whisky fans, but it has undoubtedly bolstered rare whisky sales, and even putting its unique story aside, the current demand for sacred single malts leaves the auction house in rude health.
To add to The Macallan, the March auction at Bonhams will include a Bowmore 40-year-old 1955, two bottles of The Dalmore 50-year-old 1926, and a Springbank 1952 amongst others, all highly sought after, and with Bonhams boasting an average selling rate of 85% plus, it should be a roaring success.
Bonhams’ Martin Green, whisky specialist in Edinburgh, puts part of the enthusiasm for rare whisky down to a yearning for status, especially among buyers in South East Asia and admits some buyers consider whisky an investment. But one of the key drivers he enjoys is whisky’s emotional pull, and what he describes as the ‘mystical allure’ of the taste of quality, crafted individual malts.