Two upcoming whisky auctions—one in Chicago and the other in Hong Kong—are putting up some rare and rarely seen collectible whiskies. From Pappy Van Winkle’s Japanese editions to a full 54-bottle set of the Hanyu Card Series, here are the lots to watch at Hart Davis Hart (Aug. 15-16) and Bonhams, Hong Kong (Aug. 16).
Hart Davis Hart: August 15-16, 2019
If you love Pappy Van Winkle but can never find a bottle to buy, now’s your chance. More than 300 bottles of Van Winkle bourbon and rye whiskey are set to go under the hammer in Chicago this month. The second Hart Davis Hart mobile-only auction of Finest and Rarest Spirits takes place on August 15-16, and includes an abundance of fine whiskey (and whisky) among the 1,887 lots, with bidding starting at less than $100.
Pappy drinkers will have multiple opportunities to stock up on the 15, 20, and 23 year olds, but my advice is not to overbid with so many Van Winkle bottles throughout the sale, as later lots might go for lower sums once the most eager bidders have secured an early buy. For the completists, however, there are some genuine Van Winkle rarities in this sale, including Japanese releases (Lots 675, 676, 1253, 1254, and 1255) and the Old Rip Van Winkle 25 year old decanter (Lots 336, 1256, 1257, 1258, and 1633, est. $8,000–$12,000).
Beyond Pappy, whatever your preferred bourbon, you’ll likely find it here, where it seems that flipping is in full force, with recent releases from the likes of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, Four Roses Small Batch, and Parker’s Heritage Collection all on the block. Yet look carefully, and there are some outstanding star bottles of American whiskey—for example, Buffalo Trace O.F.C. Vintage 1980 (Lots 428 and 1029, est. $6,500–$9,500), Vintage 1982 (Lot 1030, est. $6,500–$9,500), and the more recent Vintage 1993 release (Lots 332 and 1594, est. $6,000–$9,000).
Hart Davis Hart has given good condition indications where labels or capsules are soiled or damaged, and has provided bottle and packaging photographs for most of the bottles in this lengthy auction. There are multiple detailed photographs for more valuable lots such as the Double Eagle Very Rare 20 year old (Lots 353 and 1597). This limited edition of only 299 bottles was released earlier this year for $1,999, but now the auction estimate is $11,000–$17,000.
Scotch is represented with around 400 lots, including large amounts of Macallan, a smattering of closed distillery single malts from Brora, Port Ellen, and Convalmore, and some fabulously mature single grains from Dumbarton, Garnheath, Girvan, Invergordon, and North British. A bottle of Bunnahabhain Auld Acquaintance distilled 1968 (Lot 1421) looks significantly undervalued with an estimate of $550–$850 as it can fetch up to three times that amount in online auctions in Scotland. Other picks that offer good value include a 1979 Glenfarclas Family Casks (Lot 42, est. $550–$850), a Duncan Taylor Peerless 1969 Longmorn 33 year old single cask (Lot 94, est. $200–$300), and the Isle of Skye 50 year old blend from Ian Macleod (Lot 1214, est. $350–$550). There are 26 bottles from the Macallan Exceptional Cask range up for sale. The Macallan Lalique 65 year old (Lot 330, est. $50,000–$75,000) could be the top bottle of the sale, though Bonhams, Hong Kong is also selling one on August 16 with a lower estimate of $38,00 –$51,000.
Bonhams, Hong Kong: August 16, 2019
The Bonhams sale is the preserve of top collectors and investors rather than drinkers, with most lots estimated to sell for thousands of dollars, though some could make tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The main attraction in the Hong Kong sale is a remarkable complete 54-bottle set of the Hanyu Card Series (Lot 323, est. $570,000–$770,000) with multiple additional lots of Karuizawa and Hanyu throughout the sale. Bonhams will be the first auction to sell both the new Highland Park 50 year old (Lot 153) and the original release of Highland Park 50 year old (Lot 425) in a single sale and, intriguingly, they’ve both been given identical estimates of $26,000–$33,000—though the first release is likely to edge it over the newcomer. There are some enticing collectible single malts such as 1964 Glenfiddich 44 year old (Lot 156, est. $2,800–$3,600) and 1977 Glenfiddich Turnberry Centenary (Lot 426, est. $1,100–$1,700), both the large and small presentations of Gordon & MacPhail Generations Glenlivet 70 year old (Lot 248, est. $19,000–$23,000, and Lot 121, est. $4,500–$6,400), a tempting selection of Samaroli bottlings, and some rarely seen independent bottlings of Talisker (lots 360, 361, and 362). Bonhams, Hong Kong continues to set the standard and this sale truly offers the very best that Japanese and scotch whisky have to offer.