Bottle of Macallan Scotch sells for record £2.2m

A bottle of Scotch whisky has been sold for almost £2.2 million ($2.7 million) — an auction record for a bottle of wine or spirits, according to the Associated Press.

The Macallan Adami 1926 sold at Sotheby’s in London.

Only 40 bottles of The Macallan 1926 were bottled in 1986 after being aged in sherry casks for 60 years.

Twelve of the bottles, including the one sold Saturday, had labels designed by Italian painter Valerio Adami.

“The Macallan 1926 is the one whisky that every auctioneer wants to sell and every collector wants to own,” said Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s global head of spirits.

He said the record-breaking sale was “nothing short of momentous for the whisky industry as a whole.”

The £2.2 million bottle is the first to have undergone reconditioning by the distillery ahead of auction.

This included replacing the cork and applying new glue to the bottle labels.

The Associated Press said the final price of £2,187,500 includes a charge known as the buyer’s premium on top of the sale price of £1.75 million. The price well exceeded the pre-sale estimate of £750,000 to £1.2 million.

Macallan’s Master Whisky Maker Kirsteen Campbell said the Macallan Adami 1926 contained notes of “rich dark fruits, black cherry compote alongside sticky dates, followed by intense sweet antique oak.”

Sotheby’s notes on the bottle sold read: “The Macallan 1926 has always been recognised as the most sought-after Scotch whisky, as illustrated by the sum of £1.5m ($1.9m) achieved by Sotheby’s in 2019, for the Fine & Rare version, which set a new auction record for any bottle of wine or spirit.

“After being aged in sherry casks for six decades, just 40 bottles of The Macallan 1926 were bottled in 1986, representing the oldest Macallan vintage ever produced.

“The 40 bottles were reportedly not made available for purchase; instead, some were offered to The Macallan’s top clients. The appearance of any of these bottles at auction over the years has resulted in extraordinary results – across 2018 and 2019, the auction record was broken three times by three of the different variations (Sir Peter Blake, Michael Dillon, Fine & Rare).

“Of the 40 bottles drawn in 1986, a maximum of 14 were decorated with the iconic Fine and Rare labels, one of which was the record-breaking bottle sold by Sotheby’s in 2019. Two bottles were released with no labels at all. Of these two, one was hand painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon, a creation that saw Macallan’s own Easter Elchies House immortalised onto the bottle. When sold in 2018, it became the first bottle of whisky to surpass £1 million.

“Of the remaining bottles, in 1986 twelve were labelled by Pop Artist Sir Peter Blake, whose work saw the most notable events from this year in the roaring 20s depicted in black and white sketches and photography. In 1993, a further 12 bottles had their labels designed by Italian painter Valerio Adami.

“The rarity factor is amplified in the knowledge that one of the Adami-labelled bottles is thought to have been destroyed during a Japanese earthquake in 2011, while the remaining unlabelled bottle is unaccounted for. It is also believed that at least one of the 40 bottles has been opened and consumed, verified by images taken in Japan.

“Distinguishing this offering even further is the fact that this is the first bottle to have undergone reconditioning by The Macallan Distillery ahead of being presented at auction. This process involved replacing both the capsule and the cork, applying new glue to the corners of the bottle labels and taking a 1ml liquid sample to test against another 1926 bottle at the Edrington offices in Glasgow.

“The Macallan 1926 Adami bottle to be offered by Sotheby’s is now the foundation for all other 1926 bottles that may undergo testing in the future. In order to recondition the capsule, a sample swatch of the old capsule was used as a material match by a producer in Austria to recreate an identical replacement matching the original.”