If you thought record inflation and the threat of global recession was going to slow down the ultra-premium whisky market, we’ve got some news for you. Earlier this October, Sotheby’s in London listed a single bottle of Macallan 81-Year-Old Single Malt for auction. When the hammer dropped, it was nabbed by a UK private collector for a jaw-dropping $325,740.
This wasn’t an ordinary bottle of Scotch, mind you. The Reach is an 81-year-old offering from the revered Speyside distillery, making it the oldest single malt ever released. The liquid was crafted before the U.S. entered World War II, resting patiently in a single sherry-seasoned oak cask since 1940.
The Macallan initially released 288 decanters of the liquid back in February of this year. It pours from a squatty vessel, which comes cradled in a sculpture of three bronze hands recalling the creepy scene in Labyrinth that gave us all night terrors as children. But even the most disturbing of adolescent callbacks couldn’t adversely affect the value of malt this rare and of this exceptional a pedigree. To wit, if you were lucky enough to find The Reach at retail (you should probably spend more time in Vegas) it would have set you back just $125,000. Barely nine months later, it’s nearly tripled in value.
And you should have seen that sort of appreciation coming, according to Jonny Fowle, who heads up Sotheby’s rapidly expanding whisky and spirits division.
“This extraordinary result for the oldest whisky ever to come to auction is thoroughly deserved,” he said in a written statement after the auction closed on October 5. “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.”
A portion of proceeds from the sale were donated to The Macallan’s Artisan Collective forum, benefiting aspiring creators. The lucky winner also gets to enjoy an all-expenses-paid distillery experience at the brand’s sprawling estate in Craigellachie. So they’ve got that going for them.
But did they actually score a bottle of whisky that tastes good? We can’t tell you because virtually no one in the world of whisky has confessed to trying it. If you’ve got $326,000 to spend, we’d be more than happy to share some tasting notes with you.
As for the folks at Sotheby’s, they’re already gearing up for the next lot of inconceivably expensive single malt. On November 16, the premiere edition of The Dalmore’s Luminary Series will go under the hammer. The 48-year-old single malt is expected to fetch well over $100,000. Take that, consumer price index!