Whisky Advocate

Bonhams Whisky Auction, New York, December 17th

December 13th, 2009

Bonhams’ third, final, and largest auction of the Willard S. Folsom Collection will take place this coming Thursday in New York. There’s plenty of great whiskies in the nearly 900 lots in this auction.  I went through all of them earlier today. Here’s a link to them all.

Of course, there’s plenty of trophy whiskies, like the Dalmore 50 yr. old (pictured below), several Black Bowmores, ’73 and ’74 Longrows. But if you look through the list more carefully, you’ll find some bargains.

longmorn centenaryFor example, there’s a Longmorn Centenary 25 yr. old (lot 237) listed with a range of $130-160 (pictured on the left). I’ve tasted this whisky. It’s very nice (with even a hint of smoke). I have a bottle already, but at that price range, I’ll be happy to have another one.

 And there are a few Springbank 30 yr. old lots (25-27) valued around $300. That was the going price a decade ago, and it will be a while before Springbank comes out with another standard issue 30 year old, given that the distillery was closed for most of the ’80s.

And there’s plenty of whiskies from distilleries long gone, like Ladyburn, Killyloch, Glen Flagler, Kinclaith, etc.

In addition to old whiskies, there are young whiskies bottled decades ago, which are pretty rare.

Have a look through. Maybe you will find something that catches your eye. I was sent a press release on the auction, which I have included below.




The Willard S. Folsom Collection of Old and Rare Whiskies
To Be Offered At Bonhams New York This December

Dalmore 50Aficionados of fine, rare Whiskies will be presented with an unparalleled collecting opportunity when the renowned Willard S. Folsom Collection goes to block on December 17th at Bonhams New York.

A sports fan, football handicapper, race car driver, master of finance, scuba diver, skydiver, and salsa dancer at various times in his life – Folsom began his love affair with Whisky in 1988 while reading a list of the best bars in the United States for Single Malt. Included in the list was a restaurant ten minutes from Willard’s home in Burlingame, California. After attending his first Single Malt Scotch tasting he immediately became a devotee of the Whisky arts.

For the next 18 years Willard amassed his private collection. Starting with establishing relationships within San Francisco’s Scotch community it was not long before he began travelling the world in search of rare bottles. Having toured the Highlands, the Lowlands, Speyside, Islay, and Orkney, he purchased whisky from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK- resulting in a collection of over 3,000 bottles.

Following the successful sale of a portion of the vast collection in Edinburgh and another sampling to be offered on November 27th in Hong Kong, part three of the sale will take place at the New York galleries of Bonhams and consists of nearly 900 lots of premier Single Malt Whisky. The meticulously selected collection ranges from Single Malts distilled in the 70s and 80s to a 1924 Royal Brackla 60 year old estimated at $2,400-3,300.  The New York sale is being held in conjunction with Bedford Wine Merchants.

Undoubtedly one of the most sought after lots will be the Dalmore 50 year old (pictured, top). It is beautifully presented in a crystal decanter along with a hand crafted wooden presentation case. Carrying an estimate of $6,500-7,300 it is sure to draw serious collector attention.

Also of great interest is the Dalmore 30 year old. This 150th Anniversary issue is offered in an Edinburgh Crystal decanter with sterling silver labelling. Bottle 37 out of a limited run of 50 and never for sale on the open market, the  lot is estimated at $2,400-3,300.
The Balvenie 50 year old is also highly anticipated. Distilled in 1937 and bottled 50 years later, the bottle is designed to replicate the bottling style of the 1930s when it was originally distilled. This nostalgic lot is expected to fetch $4,900-5,700.

Another lot certain to attract bidders is a group of limited edition Springbank whiskies. Bottled for the millenium at five year intervals from 25 to 50 years maturation in the cask, the lot is comprised of Springbank 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 year old. The six bottle lot carries an estimate of $3,000-5,000.

Macallan 1946Two 1940s Macallan’s will also highlight the sale. Accompanied by a miniature for sampling purposes, the 1948 Macallan Select Reseve 51 year old is estimated at $3,500-$4,500. The 1946 Macallan Select Reserve 52 year old (pictured left) is numbered 536 and is expected to bring $2,000-2,300.

Also cause for excitement is an 18 year old Bowmore. Estimated at $3,300-4,100, this rarely seen bottle was distilled and bottled by Sherriff’s Bowmore Distillery in the 1950s. 

Other notable lots to be offered are a rare, limited edition 1963 Laphroaig 40 year old (est. $1,100-1,500); a limited edition Aultmore Centenary 16 year old only available to employees of the distillery (est. $900-1,200); and a 1963 Bowmore, bottled especially for a dinner at Chateau La Grange marking the 30th Anniversary of Morrison Bowmore’s ownership of the distillery (est. $900-1,200).

“We’re extremely excited to present this collection,” states Director of Whisky, Martin Green. “Not only is it the largest collection ever to come to auction; it is also distinguished by the fact that Folsom bought multiples whenever possible, which allowed him to take pleasure in actually drinking many of these bottles- highly unusual for a collector.”

 The sale will take place on December 17th at 4PM EST. The illustrated auction catalog for the sale will be online at in the weeks preceding the auction.  For more information about the department, please visit

6 Responses to “Bonhams Whisky Auction, New York, December 17th”

  1. […] house Bonhams is holding a big whisky auction on Thursday the 17th.  John Hansell notes that there are many, many deals to be found below $300.  If you are still shopping for Christmas […]

  2. Adam H. says:

    One important thing to remember with major auction houses like Bonham’s is the “Buyer’s Premium” that winners have to pay. In this case, it’s 19%. On top of that, sales tax (and some “mystery taxes”) get tacked on top of that if you live in a number of states.

    So after these auctions are done, it’s always the “Hammer Price” that gets publicized, sometimes making it sound like someone got a good deal. But add about 25%, and you’ll be closer to the actual price they ended up paying.

    Something to keep in mind.

  3. Mark says:

    At a Vintage Macallan tasting (20’s-70’s),
    I had the privilege of some of that 1946. Wood for the war and then rebuilding, so it’s a very rare peated Macallan, right? Subtle Highland peat, lovely.

  4. John Hansell says:

    That’s correct, Mark. I’ve tasted the 1946 and the peat smoke is evident (and lovely).

  5. David S says:

    How does Bonham’s compare with Christies and Sotheby’s in terms of Whiskey knowledge, vetting out frauds and estimates pre-auction?

    Asking because I’m not yet familiar with them, I am with C and S.

  6. John Hansell says:

    David S, honestly, I don’t know enough to compare. However, I DO know that Martin Green has been doing this for a long time and is experienced at what he does.

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