In 1947, brothers Frank and Gino Corti opened a grocery store in Sacramento. Three decades later, with Frank’s son, Darrell, at the helm, Corti Brothers spearheaded what the L.A. Times dubbed a “gourmet food revolution,” importing items such as fresh white truffles, balsamic vinegar, and San Marzano canned tomatoes—all considered exotic foodstuffs in 1970s California.
Darrell Corti is also fond of old-world whisky, and during a downturn in the market in the 1980s, he started buying up casks full of Scotch from iconic distilleries like Clynelish and the Macallan. He contracted Aberdeen-based R.W. Duthie Co. to bottle the whisky before importing and selling it under the family name. Over the years, these highly sought-after whiskies came to be known as Duthie for Corti bottlings.
Earlier this month, a Scottish-based online auctioneer liquidated the world’s largest known private collection of rare Corti Brothers whiskies. Twenty-six bottles, which previously belonged to a whisky enthusiast in the U.K., were auctioned off individually, fetching a total of £52,865 ($73,524) from nine winning bidders.
Highlights from the auction include a 21 Year Old Clynelish that sold for £8,000 ($11,126). The whisky went into barrel in 1965, 2 years before the original Clynelish distillery was shut down (it later reopened for a short time as Brora, producing whiskies that are also considered classics). A 22 Year Old Bowmore bottled in 1964 drew a winning bid of £3,500 ($4,867), just slightly more than a Springbank (£3,189 or $4,435) from 1958 bottled in ’83. The Imperial Distillery in Speyside had a checkered 100-year history marked by numerous closures and reopenings. The scarcity of inventory accounted for two bottles of Imperial 1963 fetching £3,000 ($4,172) apiece.
The one-off Duthie for Corti auction was another successful stroke for Perthshire firm Whisky Auctioneer, which formed in 2013 and recently made waves with the sale of a 30-year-old bottle of 1964 second-edition Black Bowmore single malt for a record £11,900 ($16,673).