Whisky

The oldest aged whisky to go under hammer at Sotheby’s

A rare bottle of 78 Years Old Macallan Whisky, which is said to be the oldest bottle released from the renowned Scottish distillery and the oldest age statement whisky ever offered at auction, will go under hammer at Sotheby’s upcoming auction in London on October 31.

A rare bottle of 78 Years Old Macallan Whisky, which is said to be the oldest bottle released from the renowned Scottish distillery and the oldest age statement whisky ever offered at auction, will go under hammer at Sotheby’s upcoming auction in London on October 31.  

The whisky is part of the Red Collection, a collection of six single malt whiskies from The Macallan Distillery.

The complete set of six whiskies is anchored by The Macallan 40 Years Old, The Macallan 50 Years Old and The Macallan 60 Years Old, The Macallan 71 Years Old and 74 Years Old. The sixth and final bottle in this collection is the crown jewel, The Macallan 78 Years Old, which has been matured for 78 Years, making it not only the oldest bottle released from The Macallan Distillery, but the oldest age statement whisky ever offered at auction, according to Sotheby’s.

Estimated at £200,000-800,000, the unique lot will open Sotheby’s first annual sale of Spirits to fall on day that Halloween is celebrated around the world, The Ultimate Whisky Collection Part II + More. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to City Harvest to raise funds for the food charity which redistributes surplus from the food industry to vulnerable people across London.

This set differs from the standard release and can be identified by its exclusive labels, which are illustrated and signed by Spanish artist Javi Aznarez. Only two sets contain these labels: One set will remain in The Macallan’s archives and the second set is being presented in the Sotheby’s auction. The Sotheby’s set also uniquely includes two exclusive display cases and two bespoke tables.

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, said: “We are thrilled to partner with The Macallan to offer The Red Collection, alongside our second offering of The Ultimate Whisky Collection, as part of our inaugural Halloween Spirits sale. This is the only opportunity for whisky collectors to own a truly special Red Collection set with labels hand-signed by Javi Aznarez.

“This unique event also marks our third charity-related partnership with The Macallan in recent years, following record-breaking prices for The Macallan M Constantine and The Macallan in Lalique Legacy Collection in Hong Kong. We look forward to continuing this success with the sale of The Red Collection, the proceeds of which will benefit City Harvest London, which has enabled quality surplus food to be redistributed for free to those unable to access food during COVID, providing support for vulnerable people across the city.”

Speaking of the collection’s name, the colour red reportedly has deep and long-standing significance for The Macallan, beginning with Alexander Reid, the farmer and teacher who founded The Macallan in 1824, whose surname means ‘the red one’ in Scots and was originally associated with red hair. 

The Red Collection

In 1903, owner Roderick Kemp launched The Macallan Choice Old range, which was reportedly shipped in cases labelled with distinctive red print to distinguish it from The Macallan’s existing whiskies, which featured black labelling.  Almost eight decades later, in 1980, red was to feature strongly in the release of The Macallan’s then oldest vintages, dated 1938, 1940 and 1950. Allan Shiach, chairman of The Macallan at that time, tied a red ribbon around the sought-after bottlings to denote their age and value.

These three characters are featured in an animated film created to introduce The Red Collection in collaboration with Javi Aznarez, acclaimed for his striking graphic art which has featured in several films, including director Wes Anderson’s forthcoming feature, The French Dispatch. The animation is set to music recorded by Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, one of the most sought-after classical musicians of her generation.

Each bottle in The Red Collection is encased in a hand-crafted oak presentation box created from the same sustainable European oak used to craft The Macallan’s oak casks. These boxes are beautifully upholstered with sustainably sourced soft red leather from Scottish supplier Bridge of Weir Leather, which creates upholstery for leading luxury car brands across the globe.

Three of the bottles in the collection are also hand-signed by Kirsteen Campbell, who was appointed Master Whisky Maker at The Macallan in 2019 – the first woman to occupy the role in the history of the brand. The remaining three bottles – The Macallan 71 Years Old, The Macallan 74 Years Old and The Macallan 78 Years Old – are hand-signed by Sarah Burgess, Lead Whisky Maker for The Macallan.

The Ultimate Whisky Collection Part II on October 31 will bring together whiskies from renowned distilleries in Scotland, Ireland and Japan. 

Read more:

World’s five most expensive whiskies ever sold at auctions

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