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‘Forgotten’ whisky cask bought for £5,000 sells for £1m at auction

A whisky cask that was purchased 34 years ago for £5,000 and lay forgotten in a Macallan warehouse was sold for a record £1m at auction after the distillery reminded the original owner of its existence. 

A Macallan cask for illustrative purposes only

The Macallan 1988 cask had 34 years in which to mature after its owner apparently forgot that they had bought it. Filled on 5 May 1988, 374-litre refill butt attracted interest from around the world, with a private buyer from the United States securing the lot for a hammer price of £915,500. The total rose to £1,007,050 when the buyers premium was included.

“When this cask was listed in our auction, we knew it had the potential to make history,” said Daniel Milne, managing director at auctioneer Whisky Hammer.

“To come across a cask of this age, quality and size is extraordinary in itself, enhanced by the fact the liquid was distilled at The Macallan, which is reflected in the global attention the cask has attracted.

“It’s been incredibly exciting for everyone at Whisky Hammer to have represented what has become the most expensive cask ever to be sold at auction.”

If bottled, the cask would produce 534 70cl bottles.

The Macallan has notably produced some of the most expensive whiskies ever sold. Earlier this year, the distiller released its oldest ever single malt whisky – an 81-year-old single malt distilled in 1940, which survived the Second World War. Housed in an arresting three-handed sculpture, the rare whisky costs £92,000.

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