Fine Spirits Auction Report | Which whisky came out on top?

Nikka whisky spirit auction

From the 29th January to the 12th February, we held our second Fine Spirits Auction from our partner platform with La Maison du Whisky. Whilst calvados, armagnac and cognac have seen a surge in interest of late, Japanese whisky has continued its soaring trajectory.

Calvados, Armagnacs and Cognacs, French spirit en vogue

It’s a fact we can happily confirm, calvados, cognacs and armagnacs – sometimes referred to as under the acronym CAC – have the wind in their sails! Around fifty of these lots were up for auction, and together they found themselves topping our sales results. The most notable performances were by the Petites Champagnes of Guy Lhéraud (Louis XV and Louis XVI), as well as the iconic 1888 Cuvée by Frapin, which went under the hammer for €5,428. Known and recognised for its vintage Calvados, Maison Drouhin stood out with a 1970 bottle, whilst a 2.5 litre 1929 Labarthe armagnac bottled by Darroze was close to reaching €1,300.

Aged bottles and rarity from Japan

Japanese whisky is sought for its quintessential style, and has been represented in our auctions via the presence of emblematic distilleries like Karuizawa and Yamazaki. The Nikka group also made a strong appearance this time around with its Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries, bringing in bid after bid and surpassing their price estimates. This was thanks to the inclusion of some truly rare and exceptional vintages: 1987, 1988 and 1989. Note that the oldest single malt bottled at Miyagikyo dates from 1986, and Yoichi’s first was in 1982. Bottles from this decade will present strategic opportunities for connoisseurs in upcoming auctions.

Karuizawa distillery closed its doors in 2012, and saw a great success with its 1981 vintage (Karuizawa Cask #136) as well as a 1979 bottle (Karuizawa Cask #8187). Finally, we should also note that the 21-Year-Old Hibiki blend performed especially well.

Peaty Islay

The Scottish distilleries of the Isle of Islay have unquestionably seen their audacity rewarded, and this much is clear to see in the results of out most recent auction. At the beginning of the 2000s, many of these producers evolved the profile of their spirits, increasing the alcohol levels, using younger malt, and a higher amount of peat. The result was the creation of powerful nectars in limited editions that really took off thanks to their accessibility. This goes some way to explaining the success hoend by Lagavulin, Ardberg and Octomore at the end of this auction.

Of course, we can’t mention the Isle of Islay without evoking the iconic Laphroaig and the bidding wars it set off. The 27 Year 1980 Laphroaig Oloroso Sherry Cask went under the hammer for €5,310, a limited edition produced in the environs of 972 bottles. Released in 2007, this is the fruit of blending from former sherry casks.

What about Port Ellen? Since 2015, this distillery’s range has been running out of steam, meaning that the Diageo Release bottles have found very few buyers. Eternally optimistic as we are, this looks like an investment opportunity! Indeed, facing a palpable lack of interest in the bottles, Diageo stopped making new Releases in 2018…a future rarity, then?

Increasing interest in rum

We had already spotted that rum was piquing interest, especially signatures like Caroni and Hampden. This second spirits auction confirmed out observations with a marked pull towards traditional French drinks by Depaz, JM & Clement and La Favorite. Foursquare and Diplomatico haven’t been quite so popular, but they are still promising names. In fact, bids for this category have been making regular positive progress.

The ones to watch

Aside from the extraordinary sales, we have to admit that auctions are also a chance to pick out bottles on varying budgets. Whilst some buyers will seek prestige, others are intrigued by the age of the bottle or its investment potential. Out of the sixty-odd lots with a lower estimate limit of €35 or less, only one bottle was left on the shelf. Among these successes were three notable names: a Scotch single malt (1985 18 Year Highland Park), a Canadian blend (Old Canada) and another Scotch (The Antiquary De Luxe).

Do you have some spirits that you’d like to sell on? Request a free estimate here for your bottles to be included in the next auction, which will be taking place from Friday 26th March to Friday 9th April. We will be receiving bottles for this sale until Friday 19th March.