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Distillers’ charity auction raises £250k

An auction held by The Worshipful Company of Distillers last week raised £250,000 for charity, smashing a £100k estimate.

The Worshipful Company of Distillers

Explaining the success of the auction, which was held at London’s Apothecareis’ Hall on Thursday evening (17 October), Brian Morrison, The Master of The Worshipful Company of Distillers told db the following day that the event had benefitted from a “wonderful setting and a great committee”, while stressing that the sale contained “rare and historic whiskies”.

During an interview with db, Morrison, who hosted the auction, said there was “a wonderful gasp in the room” when it was announced that the sum raised from the sale had surpassed £100,000 – the fundraising target for the auction.

Morrison also recalled “spirited bidding”, particularly for “one-off lots”, and praised the auctioneer, Christie’s international director of wine, David Elswood.

Brian Morrison

Fifty per cent of the money raised will be split between Adult and Youth Education Charities; The Alcohol Education Trust, Trelya and The Benevolent, while the other 50% will augment the Distillers Company’s Charity Fund for future giving.

Morrison explained that one of his primary aims as Master of The Distillers – a post he holds for this year – was to increase the amount of money generated for charity.

He also said that the last charitable auction held by the City livery company was six years ago, and raised £28,000, while noting that at this year’s event, Bowmore “was the star of the evening”.

The top five lots from last week’s auction can be viewed over the following pages: 

5. Bowmore 30 – £7,000

This lot comprised three bottles of Bowmore distilled in 1963 and bottled in 1993 to celebrate the purchase of Sherriffs Bowmore Distillery by Stanley P. Morrison in 1963 from the Grigor Family of Inverness.

On the inside of the wooden box there is a resumé of how the purchase of the distillery came about.

This was part of a limited edition of six hundred bottles, and the items sold were bottles no. 14, 15 and 16.

Donor: Brian Morrison

Estimate: £4,000-£6,000

4. Bowmore 1965 – £13,000

This single bottle of Bowmore significantly surpassed its estimate of £1,000 to fetch 13 times that figure.

Called Paul’s Dram, the Scotch was laid down by Tim Morrison for his godson, Paul Stewart (son of motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart, OBE, close family friend of the Morrisons, and co-host of the auction with Brian Morrison).

The Scotch was distilled in 1965, vatted with a 1991 Bowmore and bottled in 2009, with a label designed by Craigie Aitchison RA.

Donor: S.W. (Tim) Morrison, chairman, A. Dewar Rattray & Co.

Estimate: £800-£1,000

3. Johnnie Walker Director’s Blend Series – £23,000

Comprising six annual releases of Johnnie Walker’s Director’s Blend from 2008 to 2013, this collection contained the latest bottling – the first time it has appeared anywhere.

It was back in 2008 that Johnnie Walker re-introduced the company’s tradition for creating Directors’ Blends, which were special editions of around 500 bottles given as a personal gift to esteemed friends of Johnnie Walker.

Since then, Master Blender Jim Beveridge and his team have created six annual releases, with each bottle label numbered and signed by Jim Beveridge and the Johnnie Walker global brand director.

Donor: David Gates, global head of premium core brands, Diageo

Estimate: £5,000-£15,000

2. Hazelwood – £31,000

The second biggest sale of the night comprised a collection of four specially commissioned private bottlings to celebrate the 90th, 100th, 105th and 110th birthdays of the late Janet Sheed Roberts, Granddaughter of William Grant.

Donor: William Grant & Sons

Estimate: £3,000-£6,000

1 Bowmore 1964 Single Malt – £61,000

The last lot of the evening also fetched the highest price, according to Brian Morrison.

Describing the Scotch as a “pure one-off”, he said the high price came about because two well-known collectors went head to head for this final lot.

The whisky was distilled on the 5 November 1964 and filled into a first fill Oloroso Sherry Butt.

The bottle is made of hand blown glass produced by Glasstorm in Tain, and comes encased in a box made produced by Peter Toaig cabinetmakers in Cumbria using Scottish Oak.

This is a unique bottle specially selected, developed, and packaged for the Distillers’ Charity Auction.
1964 was the first full year of production after the Morrison family purchased Bowmore Distillery.

Donor: Morrison Bowmore Distillers

Estimate: £10,000-£30,000

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