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Rare Macallan whisky sells for record £1.5 million

A rare bottle of The Macallan 60 year old from 1926 has sold at auction for a record-breaking £1.5 million.

The bottle was offered for sale by an American private collector, and had been estimated to sell for £350,000-450,000, less than a third of the final auction price achieved. The identity of the buyer was not disclosed.

The Macallan was the star of the sale of more than 460 bottles of whisky offered by the same American collector who spent 20 years building up his collection.

The record sale was part of a 178 bottle-strong collection spanning seven decades from 1926 through to 1991 which sold for a total of £5.1m – the most extensive collection of Macallan Fine and Rare ever to be seen at auction.

A bottle of Springbank 50 year old distilled in 1919, bottled in 1970, was one of the rarest whiskies ever to be released, with only 24 bottles produced and once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold. 

The appearance on the market of one of these bottles caused a great deal of excitement, driving the final sale price to £266,200, almost double the pre-sale high estimate.

Distilled a year after the end of the First World War, at a time when distilleries throughout Scotland had ceased operations, the bottle contains a snapshot of history.

Bottle number 1 of Bowmore’s “Crashing Waves”, the oldest whisky to be released from the legendary distiller after 54 years of maturation, sold for £363,000. One of only 12 released in a hand-blown sculpted bottle depicting the crashing waves of the Atlantic against Islay’s shores, it is claimed to be the finest bottle of Islay whisky ever produced.

A rare bottle of single malt from the closed distillery of Brora was sold for £54,450 – the highest price ever paid for a single bottle from the distillery. Brora was closed in 1983 but is set to reopen next year.

The previous auction record for a single bottle was £1.2m. This was set by another bottle of ‘The Macallan 60 Year Old 1926’ drawn from the same cask (but presented in a unique bottle painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon) at a London auction in November 2018.

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist, said: “This fantastic result is testament to the quality of the collection.

“It was remarkable to see so many iconic bottles break records – homage to the importance of distilleries such as Bowmore, Brora, Springbank and, of course, The Macallan.

“The electricity in the auction room was palpable. There were cheers when the hammer fell on the Macallan Fine and Rare 1926, in one has to be one of the most exciting moments in the history of whisky sales.”

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