Last week, a bottle of the Macallan 60-Year-Old 1926 was sold for over $1.1 million at the Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers. This week, another bottle of the same batch is expected to sell for the same price or more. This makes it the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold in an auction. Now, what makes this so special?
For starters, this properly vintage whisky was aged for 60 years in sherry casks, then bottled in 1986. Only 24 bottles of the batch were made, and it is unknown how many of them are still in existence. One has been said to be destroyed during the 2011 Japan earthquake, and the another was believed to be — horror of horrors — opened and drunk. It’s an unwritten fact that these bottles were made to be collector’s editions and displayed for years to come, and never actually consumed.
Another reason why it’s fetched such a large sum in auctions is also thanks to its aesthetics. The Macallan commissioned artists, Valerio Adami and Peter Blake, to design 12 labels each. These two artists have been known for co-creating The Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. “It’s the Rolls Royce of malts,” said Bonhams whisky specialist Martin Green.”It’s an object of beauty in its own right — almost a museum piece.”
Presented in its own brass-bound glass display case, the triumphant buyer for this Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 bottle wasn’t even physically present during the auction — he made his bids via phone. This particular one was bottle number 5 out of 12 signed by the Italian artist. It was first purchased in 1994 at the distillery at a cool $27,000.
The next bottle up for auction this coming October 12th is one signed by British artist Peter Blake and is expected to fetch the same price or more. If you don’t have the chance to purchase one of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 bottles, fret not — we’re sure there will be more collector’s edition coming out of the Scotch brand’s new Speyside distillery in the coming years.