Whisky Auction Update January 27, 2023
January 27, 2023 –––––– Jonny McCormick
In this week’s auction update, we review the results of a surprise sale at Unicorn Auctions, and look ahead to the first sales of February.
Just when Unicorn Auctions concluded its January No Reserve sale it launched an unexpected Small Batch No Reserves auction. This exciting format involves the unannounced pop-up sale of 200 lots or less, all sold without reserve, in a quick four-day auction—just to keep everyone on their toes! Squeezed between two much larger auctions, the sale brought just over $80,000 nevertheless. Over 90% of the lots were American whiskey, with a bottle of William Larue Weller from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2022—$99 suggested retail price (SRP)—achieving the sale’s highest hammer price at $1,890. There was a large spread of brands on offer, with Stagg, Weller, and Willett being the highest three brands by value. Collectors had single barrels aplenty to choose from like Smoke Wagon The 1st 10 (Barrel No. 9) straight bourbon (hammer price $1,010), Willett Family Estate 8 year old bourbon This is the Way Private Barrel No. 5226 ($810), and Baker’s Exclusive Selection Single Barrel 11 year old selected for Spec’s ($335). It was also the place to go for bottles released in 2022 such as Knob Creek 18 year old ($170 SRP, hammer prices ranged from $270–$320), Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 17 year old Barrel Proof ($275 SRP, $1,410 hammer price), and Blood Oath Pact No. 8 Calvados Cask Finish ($120 SRP, sold for $230–$275).
Outside of American whiskey, the most impressive result was the hammer price of $425 for a bottle of Gold Spot 9 year old single pot still Irish whiskey ($120 SRP) bottled to mark the 135th anniversary of Mitchell & Son becoming whiskey bonders in Dublin. The new Teeling 32 year old Purple Muscat Finish was released in November at $3,500 SRP, but one lucky bidder picked up a bottle of this single malt for around half the retail price, securing a bargain hammer price of $1,820. For that sweet deal, it has earned its place as our lot of the week.
Just Whisky’s battle of the Springbank 30 year olds ended up as a bit of a flop, as the Staff Only Countdown Collection Preview bottles failed to meet their reserves, and the Springbank 30 year old 2022 release suffered the same fate, but at least the physical bottle of the former NFT Ardbeg Fon Fhòid sold for $1,669. Two more owners have decided to burn their tokens and redeem their Ardbeg bottles since last week, so it’s possible that we’ll see a few more going under the hammer.
This weekend is your last chance to bid at Whisky Hammer’s January auction, which has 2,353 lots, and the main Unicorn Auction January sale's 4,789 lots. The latest sale from Whisky Auctioneer goes live on January 27th, Sotheby’s, New York kicks off an online auction on January 30th, while Scotch Whisky Auctions go live on February 3rd.
For live auction action, Acker Distilled January Spirits Auction takes place on January 31st at 3 p.m. ET. It includes 712 lots and it’s an auction of considerable quality, with deep selections of scotch, bourbon, dozens of bottles of Japanese whisky, and some rare Irish whiskeys. It includes two unusual bottles of Jameson not released in the U.S. worthy of a closer look. Firstly, Lot 684 is Jameson Single Pot Still Five Oak Cask Release (est. $50-70); this is unusual because as the name suggests, this 2022 release was not a blend but a single pot still whiskey (€60 SRP) with an intricate recipe of different cask types. Secondly, Lot 710 is Jameson Remastered 15 year old, (est. $260-350) a limited-edition single pot still whiskey. Only 2,220 500ml bottles were created for this one-off recipe. This bottle launched the Jameson Anthology when it was sold for €300 SRP by online ballot in April 2022, master distiller Kevin O’Gorman reworking Jameson Pure Pot Still Limited Reserve 15 year old with a modern interpretation of this old classic.
Lot of the week
Teeling 32 year old Purple Muscat Finish
Sold at Auction: January 21, 2023 at Unicorn Auctions
Hammer Price: $1,820