Whisky Advocate

$54,000 for a 60 year old Macallan?

December 10th, 2007

Well, it’s pretty obvious that there are people out there with far too much money to spend.

On Saturday, Christie’s hosted the first spirits auction in New York since Prohibition. This is great news! It’s about time!

The highlight of the auction was a 1926 Macallan, bottled in 1986. (That would make it 60 years old, not 81 years old like the New York Post reported.) It was expected to go for $20,000-30,000, but went for a whopping $54,000!

Granted, Macallan is a whisky that ages very well. I have been fortunate enough to taste some wonderful 50+ year old Macallan whiskies, like the Macallan 1946 Vintage and the Macallan Millennium 50 year old. But I have also tasted Macallan that I feel was a little past its prime, like the new Macallan 55 year old in a Lalique decanter. At these ages and prices (several thousand dollars), I definitely put these whiskies in the “try before you buy” category.

It’s pretty likely that the new owner of the 1926 Vintage Macallan did not taste this whisky before purchasing it, so that’s a big risk to take–especially after you have driven the price up to $54,000. I realize that some people are so wealthy that $54,000 to them is like $540 to the rest of us. But, I think about all the great whiskies that this person could have purchased with that amount of money, and I just shake my head.

For example, Lots #178-213 at this same auction consisted of Macallan vintages spanning from 1937-1972, excluding a handful of vintages (e.g., during WW II). I’m looking at the strike prices for these whiskies and I think you could have purchased most, if not all, of these whiskies for the same price of the 1926 Vintage. I am willing to bet that there are at least a few of these whiskies that taste as good or better than the 1926. (I have not tasted the 1926 Vintage either, so I am making this judgement based on my own personal experiences of having tasted hundreds of Macallan whiskies during my lifetime.)

I respect people who work hard and earn their money. And if you can make a lot of money working hard (while still keeping the rest of your life in balance), then good for you. But I don’t see how anyone who is wise, hardworking, and frugal enough to amass enough money to buy this whisky would have gotten where they are if they kept spending their money on purchases like this.

8 Responses to “$54,000 for a 60 year old Macallan?”

  1. CK says:

    Is there any story of the person who bought this bottle? I read that he(she?) is a wealthy New Yorker. I would love to know something about him. And what he plans on doing with a $54K bottle of hooch.

  2. John Hansell says:

    The person is only described as a “New York private collector.” I’m glad they didn’t desribe him as a “New York private investor” because, at what he paid, I don’t see the price appreciating above that anytime in the near future.

  3. Sam Komlenic says:

    Very well put, John! As my mother was fond of saying, “More money than brains!”

  4. B says:

    I am sure they bought the bottle as a collector and would not and will not taste it – I found it much more interesting that this purchase as reported in the Globe and Mail:

    “One anonymous buyer paid $102,000 for what Mr. Brierley described as “an instant Scotch library,” containing 729 bottles from blended Scotches to single malts from distilleries, some of them now mothballed or destroyed, in the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands. “

  5. John Hansell says:

    Some of the whiskies in the 729 bottle “library” were rare (i.e. Glen Flagler, Kinklaith), but I don’t recall there being a log of “cult” whiskies, like Black Bowmore, older Longrows and Springbanks and the like. There were a lot of blends too.

  6. Broken says:

    I think with something like this, it is purely a collectable at this point. And it probably will turn out to be a wise investment. I am looking at this like I do the wine auctions. Plenty of bottles are sold that are completely undrinkable simply because they have become collectable instead. And the people that buy these and sit on them for a couple years usually turn around and resell them at a good % higher. This purchase has nothing to do with how the bottle will taste, but rather how rare it is.

  7. John Hansell says:

    My friend, but that’s just it: $54k for a whisky that was estimated to go for $20-30k? Maybe I will be proved wrong, but that’s a pretty big premium.

    I’ll be that people who bought real estate two years ago thought it was a great investment too, even though the price had appreciated so much already. Time will tell.

  8. Roger Woo says:

    Where to buy it? Can you tell me? I’m from China

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