World Record: a bottle of whisky sold for $2.7 million

The pinnacle of whisky collecting


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Jonny Fowle, Sotheby's Global Whisky Director, presents a bottle of The Macallan 1926, the world's most expensive whisky, on 19 October 2023 in London, England.

In a remarkable display of the burgeoning market for fine spirits, a bottle of The Macallan 1926 whisky achieved a record-breaking sale price at a Sotheby's auction in London. The bottle, which fetched over 2 million pounds (approximately 2.7 million dollars), represents a new zenith in the auction prices of liquor and wine, surpassing the initial estimates set by the auction house.

Distilled nearly a century ago, The Macallan 1926 spent 60 years maturing in sherry casks before bottling, earning the distinction of being the oldest vintage of Macallan ever produced. This rarity has elevated it to the status of the world's most coveted Scotch whisky.

Sotheby's had initially projected that the bottle would sell for between 750,000 and 1.2 million pounds (approximately 934,274 to 1.4 million dollars). However, the final sale price of 2,187,500 pounds (around 2,724,967 dollars) not only surpassed these expectations but also stirred surprise and admiration among fine liquor collectors and auction enthusiasts.

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby's Director of Whisky, shared with AFP his tasting experience of this exceptional whisky. He described The Macallan 1926 as a rich liquor, laden with dried fruits, spices, and woody notes, emphasizing its incredible quality deserving of careful and respectful sipping.

The allure of this whisky extends beyond its quality and age to its exclusivity. Of the 40 bottles filled in 1986, none were made available for public purchase. Some were offered to select clients of The Macallan, adding to its luxurious and exclusive appeal.

In 2019, Sotheby's had already set a record with the sale of another bottle of The Macallan 1926, featuring one of the 14 Fine and Rare labels, for 1.5 million pounds (about 1.9 million dollars). The recent sale, however, has eclipsed this record.

The bottle sold on Saturday is one of the 12 adorned with a label designed by Italian painter Valerio Adami. Another bottle with this label is believed to have been destroyed in the 2011 Japan earthquake. Notably, this particular bottle is the first of The Macallan 1926 bottles to have been reconditioned by the Macallan distillery in Scotland before its auction.

The Macallan 1926 collection also includes 12 bottles labeled by pop artist Sir Peter Blake and two unlabeled ones. One of the latter, hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon, was the first whisky bottle to exceed a million pounds, selling for 1.2 million pounds (about 1.5 million dollars) in 2018.

This record-breaking sale not only reflects the growing appreciation and demand for rare and fine liquors in the global market but also underscores The Macallan's esteemed position as one of the most prestigious and renowned distilleries in the high-quality whisky production realm.

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