First-half results 2021 | Top spirits

Let’s take a look at the top spirits that have gone under the hammer so far this year. These results come from Fine Spirits Auction, a site we created in collaboration with La Maison du Whisky at the end of 2020. A good time to take stock, then; since the start of the year, 1,320 bottles have been auctioned on the website for a total of €584,268. The top 20 ranking is listed below, as well as our analysis of the best bottles.

Whisky wins outright

Since the creation of Fine Spirits Auction in November 2020, the site has hosted four auctions, each building on the success of the last. With enthusiasts eager and often bidding over estimated value, the first half of 2021 has confirmed that there is a real appetite for this side of the drinks business. Fine whisky is especially coveted, appearing in 15 places out of our top 20. All sought for their rarity, the bottle to beat so far this year is a 1938 Macallan which went under the hammer for €14,160. Just over half of the whiskies in this top table are from Scotland, although Japan is giving the home of Scotch a run for its money, attracting bidders with its delicate spirits. Second and third places are taken by Japanese whisky, with a 2000 Five of Spade’s Malt by Ichiro selling for €11,918, and a 1993 Single Sherry by Yamazaki close behind at €11,800.

Also known for its excellent whisky is the US, represented further down in the ranking by a traditional bourbon, this being a whisky made from at least 51% corn and matured in new oak barrels. In 12th place we find the 23-Year-Old Old Rip Family Reserve from Pappy van Winkle, a bottle that sold for €3,540. This whisky was pipped to the post by a surprise result: a 1981 21-Year-Old spirit from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that went under the hammer for €3,658, despite an estimate of €800. Curiously, this is a Japanese-distilled whisky that was then bottled in Scotland, bestowing it with the strengths of two excellent whisky nations. Other superb names that feature in the top table include Laphroaig, Karuizawa, and Glenury.

Rum and cognac going strong

Aside from a clear penchant for whisky, other kinds of spirits have also found favour with bidders, demonstrating the richness of what is on offer and the quality it represents for enthusiasts. Rum makes an appearance in the top 20, with a limited edition bottle of 1985 27 Years UF30 E Velier Small Batch auctioned for €4,366 (#8), a 1932 24 Years Velier Full Proof by Caroni going for €2,596 (#16), and Diamond’s 1981 31 Years Velier Barrels getting a top bid of €2,124 (#19). The attraction of cognac lies, at least partly, in its impressive longevity. A magnificent 1888 1er Grand Cru from Frapin comes in 7th place for its hammer price of €5,428, joined by Charente’s Rémy Martin, whose Louis XIII cognac went under the hammer for an impressive €2,832.

Position Spirit Country Region Name Hammer price
1 Whisky Scotland Highlands Macallan (The) 1938 Of. Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky Atkinson Baldwin & Co Macallan Glenlivet Ltd. €14,160
2 Whisky Japan Honshu – Saitama Ichiro’s Malt 2000 Of. Five of Spades One of 632 bottles – Cask n°9601 – bottled 2008 Venture Whisky Card €11,918
3 Whisky Japan Honshu – Osaka Yamazaki 1993 Of. Single Sherry Butt Cask n°3T70070 – bottled 2012 LMDW The Private Cask €11,800
4 Whisky Scotland Islay Laphroaig 31 years 1974 Of. Sherry Wood Cask – One of 910 bottles €9,558
5 Whisky Japan Honshu – Nagano Karuizawa 30 years 1977 Number One Drinks Single Cask 7026 Sherry Butt – bottled 2008 LMDW Noh Label €9,086
6 Whisky Scotland Highlands Glenury Royal 50 years 1953 Of. One of 498 bottles €7,788
7 Cognac France Charente Frapin Of. Cuvee 1888 1er Grand Cru €5,428
8 Rum British Guiana Demerara-Mahaica UF30 E 27 years 1985 Velier Small Batch n°10548 10552-53 Limited Edition 814 Bottles Uitvlugt Distillery, Guyana Very Old Demerara Rum €4,366
9 Whisky Japon Honshu – Saitama Hanyu 21 years 1988 Number One Drinks Single Ex Sherry Butt n°9306 Noh Label €4,130
10 Whisky Scotland Speyside Glendronach 40 years 1972 Of. Single Oloroso Sherry Butt n°713 – bottled 2012 €4,130
11 Whisky Japan Japan The Scotch Malt Whisky Society 21 years 1981 Of. Single Cask n°120.1 – bottled 2003 Kraan & Richards €3,658
12 Whisky US Kentucky Pappy Van Winkle’s 23 years Of. Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery Family Reserve €3,540
13 Whisky Japan Hokkaido Yoichi 1987 Of. World Whiskies Awards 08 LMDW Nikka Whisky €3,540
14 Cognac France Charente Rémy Martin Of. Louis XIII €2,832
15 Whisky Scotland Islay Port Ellen 35 years 1978 Of. 14th Release 2014 Release €2,714
16 Rhum Trinité-et-Tobago Trinité-et-Tobago Caroni 24 years 1982 Velier Full Proof bottled in 2006 €2,596
17 Whisky Scotland Speyside Strathisla 45 years 1965 Gordon & MacPhail Cask n° 3473 bottled 2011 Private Edition for Chun €2,242
18 Whisky Scotland Scotland Chivas Of. 62 Gun Salute Royal Salute €2,124
19 Rum British Guiana Demerara-Mahaica Diamond 31 years 1981 Velier Barrels S W – bottled in 2012 €2,124
20 Whisky Scotland Lowlands Rosebank 30 years 1990 Of. Release 1 – bottled 2020 Un-Chillfiltered & Triple Distilled €2,065


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