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Ultra-Rare Single-Malt Whiskies Will Headline Sotheby’s Largest Online Spirits Auction

More than 250 exclusive lots will be up for bid from August 26 to September 1.

The Prima and Ultima Collection Set No. 1 Sotheby's

Like so many other auction houses, Covid-19 has forced Sotheby’s to rely on online bidding. But the change in procedures doesn’t appear to be affecting the company’s spirits business any, which is why it’s now preparing for its largest online sale yet at the end of the month.

On August 26, Sotheby’s will launch a giant “Distilled” sale of more than 250 rare and exclusive lots, the auction house just announced. Running through September 1, the auction will give serious, deep-pocketed enthusiasts a chance to get their hands on some truly rare bottles and casks of whisky from all over the world, including Scotland, Italy and Japan.

As is the case with most whisky-focused sales, quite a few bottles of The Macallan are scheduled to hit the block. The highlight of these is a bottle of The Macallan Fine and Rare 56 Year Old from 1945. Rationing during World War II forced the distillery to use a different local peat for this specific statement, giving this vintage a truly unique taste. This specific bottle is also just one of 152 known to exist and is expected to sell for between $46,000 and $63,000. All in all, the 94 Macallan lots may fetch anywhere between $814,000 and $1.1 million

The Macallan Fine and Rare 56 Year Old from 1945

The Macallan Fine and Rare 56 Year Old from 1945  Sotheby's

Another highlight includes the first numbered set of the Prima and Ultima Collection from Diageo. The set, numbered No. 1 of 238, consists of several vintage single malt whiskies produced by celebrated distilleries owned by the alcohol conglomerate, like Port Ellen, Singleton of Dufftown and Clynelish. The winning bidder, who is expected to shell out between $21,000 and $37,000, will also get an exclusive virtual tasting experience with Dr. Jim Beveridge OBE, one of the world’s most respected whisky makers. Proceeds of the sale will to British company’s charity partner, Water Aid.

Other lots of interest include three bottles of Laphroaig Samaroli 16 Year Old 1970 (expected to sell for between $12,000 and $17,000 each), Glen Grant Gordon & MacPhail 62 Year Old Mr. George Centenary Edition 1956 ($7,200 to $9,900) and Karuizawa Sapphire Geisha 31 Year Old Cask #3558 ($11,800 and $15,800).


“We are thrilled to present our second spirits auction of the month and our largest online auction, with over 250 lots,” the auction house’s Spirits Specialist Jonny Fowle said. “The quality and variety of bottles offered in this sale are a testament both to the strength of the current whisky market and of our success in developing our online auction format throughout 2020.”

The 267 lots will be up for bid from August 26 to September 1. And considering the propensity of record-setting sales at Sotheby’s spirit auctions over the last year—most expensive bottle of Japanese Whisky, most expensive bottle of Dalmore and most expensive bottle of Cognac—don’t be surprised if headlines are made.

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