The second Fine Spirits Auction of the year is open for bids. Hibiki 35 Years, 1940 Chartreuse, 1948 Domaine de Courcelles, and 1875 Delamain Grande Champagne are among the treasures in store. You’ll also find some of the biggest players in France’s malt distribution from the 1990s, including Le Clan des Grands Malts and the Scotsch Malt Whisky Society. To top it all off, there’s a selection from one collector who brings together some of the most sumptuous spirits from the seventies.
Private collection: from the 1970s to today
Around 100 different bottles have been put up for auction by a collector with eclectic taste. Spirits from Scotland, Ireland, and the US all feature, with a particular penchant for those distributed in the seventies. Representing a whole range of importers, and nicely summing up the spirit market’s evolution over time, the signatures waiting for your bids include GMC, Marie-Brizard, Cusenier, SNPA, Sovema, Auxil, Remy, P.B.G., GECO, Mahler-Besse, Taittinger, Deutz, Mumm-Corima, Simon Frères, Sovedi, France Champagne, Gouin, Corade, Barton & Guestier, De Salignac, De Venoge, Dugas, and Besserat de Bellefon.
Of all the spirits in this collection, there’s no doubt that these three will attract a certain amount of attention:
. Laphroaig 10 years Of. GECO Import: one of the Italian Cinzano versions from the mid-80s that was bottled for the French market.
. Caol Ila 1972 Jas Gordon & Co Auxil Import: under the name of Jas Gordon, you might recognise Gordon & MacPhail, who used different titles to be distributed by different actors in the same area.
. Prestonfield’s Campbeltown 20 years 1967 Sherry Wood Casks n°3131-3136 SNPA Import: the official Springbank version created for the Scottish hotel The Prestonfield.
Malt distributors in France
Le Clan des Grands Malts
Le Clan des Grands Malts was founded in 1997 by a group of seasoned spirit lovers who couldn’t get enough of their tastings and travels. Propelled by their passion, they had over twenty single casks bottled in their name. Bottler of Dun Bheagan and Chieftain’s, Ian Macleod is the trader in this case; the distributor being Dugas, importer of Springbank and Ardbeg. Note that, for this same club, a 1975 Ardbeg Cask #4701 was bottled in 2002 by the distillery.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Of all the bottles up for auction this time, one we have to mention is the Laphroaig distilled SMWS 27 year 1989, Cask n°29.234, Smoked and Salted Toffee Apples.
To give you a bit of background, this society was founded in the 80s by Phillip Hills, who wanted to bottle some exclusive whiskies for members of the club, using specially selected casks. The venture began with four casks from Glenfarclas and Bowmore, and the club went from bottling twenty casks a year to around a hundred. And they have the most evocative, ambiance-setting names you’ll find on the market. How does ‘Danish Pastries in a Carpet Shop’ sound? ‘Charcoal in a Jam Jar’ anyone?
Success didn’t take long to arrive, with European branches popping up and sources growing, particularly in Japan (Yoichi, Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Miyagikyo). With this booming trade under its belt, the society was bought up by Glenmorangie Plc., then by LVMH, before eventually ending under the wing of independent investors in 2015.
Looking for gems?
Heading to Japan, you’ll find a Hibiki 35 Year Arita & Kutani, as well as a Yamazaki 1991 Sherry Butt n°1S70427. To celebrate 400 years since the advent of porcelain in Japan, the legendary Suntory crafted two special editions of its incredible blends. 2016 thus saw the creation of these beautiful objects, one made of Arita porcelain, and the other of Kutani. These elegant bottles are decorated with peony (symbol of good fortune) and butterflies (symbol of longevity), embellishing the 35 year old blend contained inside, the distillery’s oldest whisky and the masterpiece of blender Seiichi Koshimizu.
In an alternative vein, rum aficionados will turn to a rarity, Domaine de Courcelles’ 1948 Vieux Rhum, a 70cl bottle at 50%. Distilled in 1948 in Guadeloupe’s coastal town of Sainte Anne, the rum was aged in old foudres and then moved to the island of Marie-Galante when the distillery was sold. Bottled in the 70s, this Vieux Rhum was acquired in Guadeloupe around a decade later, and until now it hadn’t moved from its Caribbean home.
France also has its best on show, with a Chartreuse 10 years 1940 Of. Vieillissement Exceptionnel – One of 800. This nectar spent 10 years in oak casks and was crafted in 1940, the year when the monks of the Isère monastery were permitted to return after their expulsion at the turn of the century. There exist a green and yellow version in 800 bottles each.