This Whisky Just Broke the World Auction Record

A bottle of The Macallan 1926 fetched over $2.7 million at Sotheby's

A man (neck down) standing over a bottle of The Macallan Adami 1926, which just broke a spirits auction record
This bottle of The Macallan? Worth nearly $3 million.

Investors and whisky fans really like The Macallan. A bottle of The Macallan 1926, featuring the Valerio Adami label, sold late last week at Sotheby’s in London for $2,714,250 during a “Weekend of Whisky” event. That amount was almost three times the pre-sale low estimate and a new world auction record for spirits.

That sale eclipsed the previous record of $1.9 million for another 1926 bottle (Fine & Rare version), which happened at Sotheby’s in 2019.

The Macallan 1926 was aged in Sherry casks for six decades, with 40 bottled in 1986, representing the oldest Macallan whisky ever produced at that time. In 1993, 12 of those 40 bottles had their labels designed by Italian artist Valerio Adami; only 10 remain (one was destroyed during an earthquake and one was consumed).

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“This record-breaking result for The Macallan 1926 is nothing short of momentous for the whisky industry as a whole,” said Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Global Head of Spirits, in a statement. “When we first set the record for the Fine & Rare back in 2019 it was a defining moment not just for Sotheby’s, but for me personally. This new record result for The Macallan Adami feels all the more emotional for me, having worked directly with the consignor and distillery to recondition, nose and authenticate this bottle, then finish this journey on the rostrum fielding bids in the room and on the phone. Bringing down the hammer for a new whisky world record is a feeling I’ll never forget.”

Interestingly, Sotheby’s worked with The Macallan to recondition and authenticate this bottle, which is the first time this has ever been done for a 1926 bottle. The reconditioning involved replacing the capsule and the cork, applying new glue to the corners of the bottle labels and taking a 1ml liquid sample to test against another 1926 bottle at the Edrington offices in Glasgow. As an additional part of the process, The Macallan Master Whisky Maker Kirsteen Campbell was able to do a nosing of the whisky.

As she noted: “The whisky had an incredible depth of character — rich dark fruits, black cherry compote alongside sticky dates, followed by intense sweet antique oak, which is for me a recognizable note of such aged Macallan. Dark chocolate, treacle, ginger… the notes go on and on.”


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