Whisky Advocate

Bonhams New York City whisky auction slated for December 8th

December 1st, 2011

One week from today, Bonhams will once again host a whisky auction here in New York. Those of you who are looking for that special whisky might have a chance to procure it in time for the holidays.

Looking at the catalog (which you can peruse here), I see some great whiskies being auctioned again, like this 1979 vintage release of The Macallan Gran Reserva (pictured on right).

This time, in addition to single malt scotch, there’s a greater emphasis on whiskies from other countries, including bourbon, Irish, Japanese, and Canadian whisky. For example, bourbon enthusiasts will drool at the 9-bottle case of Very Old Fitzgerald 8 year old bourbon distilled in 1948 at the defunct Stitzel-Weller distillery (pictured below).

I realize that many of you don’t have the means to buy some of these rare whiskies. For those of you who do, this is a great opportunity to perhaps procure that special whisky you’ve been looking for. And, to be honest, there are many lots of grouped “regular priced” whiskies that, depending on the bidding, might proved to be a bargain–even with the fees that are tacked on.

Regardless, it’s worth a look at the catalog, even if it’s only a stroll down memory lane for you.

17 Responses to “Bonhams New York City whisky auction slated for December 8th”

  1. sam k says:

    Well, I don’t necessarily have the means, but that won’t stop me from perusing the goodies that others will soon be the proud owners of! I’m also curious about the hammer prices, and will be looking those over after the sale.

  2. Vince says:

    I would love to have a bottle of that Very Old Fitzgerald 8 YR Old, but I am afraid it is going to sell for well beyond my means. I will peruse the catalog though!

  3. Louis says:

    After perusing the catalog, I noticed that many of the single malt scotch bottles were generally available at some point in time (for me, that goes back to the late 1990’s). Also, some of them are downright ordinary. So the lesson here is to pick up interesting bottles, even if they are a bit expensive. That Macallan 1979 Gran Reserva originally cost around $150. Of course, everything that I buy is for eventual consumption, and older bottles taste a little bit better when they are ‘worth’ a whole lot more than I paid for them. Then again, if years down the road someone wants to pay me a lot of money for a bottle that I didn’t pay very much for, I might not want to deprive them of the opportunity 🙂



  4. mongo says:

    some of the listings really are head-scratchers.

    i will wait with interest to see if someone will actually pay $300-350 plus all the fees for a 700ml bottle of highland park 25, when the 750ml bottle is easily available in the u.s in the low $200s.

    • John Hansell says:

      It depends on which bottling of HP 25 it is. The older bottlings are at a higher ABV and considered to be (by some people I talk to) a superior product. That might answer your question.

  5. mongo says:

    nope. this is the 48.1% version (lot 164). still available in the u.s, and even cheaper to have shipped from the u.k.

  6. mark says:

    Prices are coming down based on the pre-sale estimates.

  7. Jake Parrott says:

    How come Bonhams can sell 700mL and 500mL liquor bottles at auction but we cannot sell them in the normal liquor trade? Neither 700mL nor 500mL liquor bottles can get US TTB label approval.

    My view is that the regulation should be changed, of course. The more fine spirits available to US drinkers, the better. Also, allowing 700s and 500s would mean not needing to work out (and pay in advance for) special US-only bottlings of spirits. But in the absence of a change in the law, it should be a level playing field for everyone.

    • Chris says:

      They are allowed to re-sell spirits bottled elsewhere (or bottled before sizes were restricted). The TTB only restricts what may be bottled or commercially imported, not what may be sold on the secondary market. As far as I know, the reason for using 750 mL bottles is that it is (nearly) a fifth of a gallon, and the US government in its wisdom has decided to base its rules on imperial rather than metric.
      If you don’t have to buy from a licensed distributor, then as far as I know there is nothing to stop you from tracking down whatever 700/500 mL bottlings your heart desires.

  8. IowaJeff says:

    Unfortunately I can’t participate here in Iowa. We can’t have liquor shipped directly to us. I called the ABD and asked if I could have it shipped to them or to a liquor store or other distributor (and pay any taxes or fees) and they said even that’s not possible under Iowa’s antiquated, lidicrous alcohol laws (ok, they didn’t say antiquated and ludicrous). Short of going to NY, I would have to have it shipped to someone in a neighboring state and then go pick it up.

    There were some bottles I had my eye on as well, particularly a couple from meaningful years that would make amazing gifts.

  9. Bastian says:

    I once got a bottle of 1981 Gran Reserva, which I figured was a special gift, but I had no idea it may be worth a lot of money. Is it comparable to that 1979 that is up in this auction?

  10. Tom D says:

    I went to the auction last night. If you have not been able to attend one in person, I would suggest going. It was a lot of fun and there was a great group of people trying to get bottles at a fairly “reasonable” price. There were also some heavy hitters dropping incredible sums on some exclusive bottles. All in all, it made for a great night, and together with some friends, we walked away with 19 bottles we have not tried before.

  11. Tom D says:

    Just an add on to the note above. The most entertaining bidding was on the Black Bowmore. Although not the most expensive bottle sold in the night, the competition for each bottle was intense and there were a large number of bidders. It was well out of my range but fun to see.

    As for the 3 lots we bought, after the 20% buyer’s premium, we felt we over paid for one lot by about $150, got another lot below market value (by more than enough to cover our overpayment) and one other at exactly the prices we have found online. All in all, a successful evening and a good learning experience.

© Copyright 2017. Whisky Advocate. All rights reserved.