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Sotheby’s offers oldest whisky ever to come to auction

Bidding for The Macallan The Reach 81 Years Old single malt, a one-of-a-kind special edition and the oldest whisky ever to come to auction, opened on Monday at Sotheby’s in London.

Sotheby's offers oldest whisky ever to come to auction from The Macallan
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The decanter — estimated at £110,000-200,000 — is being presented in a special single-lot sale, which will close to prospective bidders on 5 October.

This release from the distillery was unveiled in February 2022, aged in a single Sherry-seasoned oak cask. The Macallan The Reach is housed in a mouth-blown glass decanter and stands in a sculpture of three hands which were designed to represent three characters in the whisky maker’s history.

The cabinet encasing the decanter was crafted using wood from an elm tree thought to have been on The Macallan Estate in 1940, the year the spirit was distilled.

The rate of alcohol evaporation means that few barrels in Scottish bonded warehouses survive beyond 50 years, making this release a particular rarity, and the oldest whisky ever to come to auction.

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s head of whisky and spirits, North America and EMEA, said: “Age, rarity and provenance combine to spectacular effect in this one of one version of the oldest single malt whisky ever to be released by The Macallan. This is Sotheby’s third auction partnership with The Macallan in three years, and it is always a special event when we collaborate to launch a unique and exclusive bottle. It is particularly special when that bottle happens to contain the oldest whisky in the world.”

Proceeds from the auction will raise funds for The Macallan’s Artisan Collective forum, to benefit The Macallan Artisan Apprenticeship Fund, enabling recipient businesses to recruit new apprentices.

Elizabeth McMillan, head of insight and sustainability at The Macallan, added: “Through The Macallan Artisan Collective, our aim is to support and celebrate artisans. Future-proofing generational skills is of great importance, and The Macallan holds a deep affinity with artisans and master makers. As contemporary creators, designers, and craftspeople, what unites us all is the value that we place on provenance and our infinite passion for finding innovative ways to keep traditional crafts and generational skills alive.

“Through our work, we are fortunate to collaborate with an incredible network of artisans who support us each year in realising our vision of creating beautifully distinctive products and experiences and compelling, creative storytelling. The Reach is testament to the incomparable craftsmanship and creativity that has driven The Macallan since it was founded in 1824, and that is why it’s so fitting that this extraordinary whisky will fund today’s generation of artisans.”

The Macallan’s latest releases include a James Bond 60th Anniversary Release to mark the six decades of James Bond films and a collaboration with Bentley Motors to introduce a limited edition single malt whisky named The Macallan Horizon.

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