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Oldest whisky to ever be auctioned smashes previous auction price

The oldest whisky ever offered at auction,  a one of a kind version of the Macallan The Reach 81 Year Old,  has sold for £300,000 at Sotheby’s in London – more than doubling the highest price paid at auction for very old whisky. 

The bottle, which was unveiled in February 2022, made up the special single-lot sale  as part of the third collaboration between the distinguished distillery and the auction house. The one-of-a-kind whisky almost tripled its presale estimate (£110,000-200,000) during fierce competition, the auction house said, before being snapped up by a private collector from the UK.

Sotheby’s said the previous highest price paid at auction for a bottle of the world’s oldest whisky was in October 2021 in Hong Kong, when Decanter #1 of the Gordon & Macphail Generations 80-Years-Old sold for £142,000 ($193,000).

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s head of whisky & spirits, North America and EMEA, said the “extraordinary” result was “thoroughly deserved”.

“One of one versions of special Single Malts are highly coveted, and we saw competitive bids playing out as the sale began to close, pushing the final price ever higher, to nearly three times over estimate. Age, rarity and provenance – once again, the holy trinity for collectors,” he said.

The Macallan The Reach was crafted from a single, sherry seasoned oak cask, which was laid down during a period of increasing hardship during the Second World War, shortly before the distillery was compelled to close its doors for the first time in its history.

The liquid was presented in a specially commissioned decanter that was created from mouth-blown, hot glass, which is cradled by a bronze sculpture of three hands representing characters in The Macallan’s history. The wooden cabinet holding the decanter was made from a fallen elm tree that is thought to have been on The Macallan Estate in 1940, when the spirit for the whisky was distilled. Meanwhile the red leather lining reflects The Macallan’s traditional branding, rather than the cream leather which featured on the original whisky release.

Proceeds from the sale go to benefit The Macallan Artisan Apprenticeship Fund, which funds two 3-year apprenticeship within an artisan business that will ensure that traditional crafts and generational skills are kept alive.

The winning bidder will also get to taste the extraordinarily rare 81-year-old single malt whisky during a distillery experience at The Macallan Estate.

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