World's 'Most Coveted' Scotch Whisky To Fetch $1.4M At Auction

A renowned distillery only made 40 bottles of the exquisite whisky, aging it in sherry casks for six decades before bottling it in 1986.

Quite a few rare and valuable bottles of alcohol are up for auction. First there’s the coveted wine collection of Taiwanese billionaire Pierre Chen, which is expected to fetch a total  of $50 million. Then there’s the world’s oldest Scotch whiskies, which people uncovered in Blair Castle, which will also be up for auction this November to December. Recently, Sotheby’s announced that a Macallan 1926, one of the world’s most sought-after Scotch whiskies, will be going under the hammer in November. The auction house expects the single bottle to fetch roughly $1.2 million.

The Macallan 1926
The Macallan 1926/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

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“The Macallan 1926 is the one whisky that every auctioneer wants to sell and every collector wants to own,” shared Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s global head of spirits, according to AP News

Back view of the Macallan 1926
Back view of the Macallan 1926/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

But what exactly makes it such a priceless spirit? Read on to learn more: 

Aged to Perfection

Macallan distilled the whisky in 1926 then aged it in sherry casks for sixty years before bottling it in 1986, as per BBC. According to ABC News, that makes the Macallan 1926 the distillery’s oldest vintage to date. 

What’s more, the precious spirits were quite exclusive. According to Sotheby’s official lot description, Macallan didn’t make the particular whisky available for purchase. Instead, the distillery offered them to its top clients. 

Close-up of the Macallan 1926’s cork and neck
Close-up of the Macallan 1926’s cork and neck/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

As such, these bottles have managed to fetch incredibly high prices in the few times they’ve been on auction. For instance, the last bottle Sotheby’s sold fetched a record-breaking  £1.5 million in 2019 (around $1.8 million today), explained the BBC

One-of-a-Kind Artistry 

The whisky’s exorbitant price also has much to do with its rarity, as with many valuable auction lots. The 40 bottles of the Macallan 1926 exist, and at least one is open while another disappeared during a Japan earthquake in 2011, as per Sotheby’s.The bottle that will be going under the hammer is only one of only 12 bottles with a label designed by Italian artist Valerio Adami.

The Macallan 1926, with a rare label by Italian artist Valerio Adami
The Macallan 1926, with a rare label by Italian artist Valerio Adami/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

Sotheby’s added that another 14 of the bottles sport the priceless “Fine and Rare” labels (including Sotheby’s record-breaking one in 2019). Two bottles remained unlabeled, though Irish artist Michael Dillon eventually hand painted one of them (another bottle that broke records in 2018 for surpassing £1 million). Lastly, another 12 bottles sported labels designed by English pop artist, Sir Peter Blake. 

A close-up of the whisky bottle’s base
A close-up of the whisky bottle’s base/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

Restored With Care

Finally, what makes the Macallan 1926 in question particularly special is that it’s also the first of its kind to undergo careful reconditioning by the Macallan Distillery before its auction. 

This restoration process involves “replacing both the capsule and the cork, applying new glue to the corners of the bottle labels, and taking a [one milliliter] liquid sample to test against another 1926 bottle at the Edrington offices in Glasgow,” wrote Sotheby’s

Another close-up of the Macallan 1926
Another close-up of the Macallan 1926/Photo from the Sotheby’s website

The auction house added: “In order to recondition the capsule, a sample swatch of the old capsule was used as a material match by a producer in Austria to recreate an identical replacement matching the original.”

“I am extremely excited to bring a bottle to a Sotheby’s auction for the first time since we set the record for this vintage four years ago,” continued Fowle during his statement. Based on what we know, this valuable spirit will certainly be setting a high auction record when it finally goes under the hammer next month. 

Banner photos from the Sotheby’s website.

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