Matured for 78 years, it was offered at Sotheby’s (21% buyer’s premium) on October 31 as part of The Red Collection, a “new classic aged collection of single malt from The Macallan” comprising six whiskies in total. The other five were examples of The Macallan at 40, 50, 60, 71 and 74 years old (the only set of its kind to be made available for sale).
Estimated at £200,000-800,000, the lot was bought by an Asian private collector. The set had been gifted by The Macallan to City Harvest London to raise funds for the charity which redistributes surplus from the food industry to vulnerable people across the capital.
A Sotheby’s statement said: “The extremely rare set differs from the standard release and is distinguished by its exclusive labels, which are illustrated and signed by Spanish artist Javi Aznarez. Only two sets feature these labels: Set #1 will remain in The Macallan’s archives and Set #2 was presented in the Sotheby’s auction.”
The auction continued with the second part of the Ultimate Whisky Collection which realised £1,057,364, bringing the combined total for parts I and II to £8.7m. Sotheby’s sale of Part I in October 2019 set the record for the most valuable whisky collection ever sold at auction at £7.6m, an auction record any bottle of wine or spirit with The Macallan Fine & Rare 60-Year-Old 1926, sold for £1.5m, and distillery records for Bowmore, Brora and Glenfiddich and Springbank.
The second part of this collection included whiskies aged in excess of 50 years from The Macallan, Bowmore, Glenfiddich and The Dalmore, and independent bottles from Silvano Samaroli.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist, said: “This exceptional result for The Red Collection is testament not only to the strength of the whisky market but also to the esteem with which The Macallan is held. Equally, the result of The Ultimate Whisky Collection Part II cements its position as the most valuable whisky collection ever sold at auction.
“The overall total for The Ultimate Whisky Collection speaks volumes of the diversity in today’s premium whisky market and the importance of provenance to collectors.”
According to Macallan: “The colour red has deep and long-standing significance for The Macallan, beginning with Alexander Reid, the farmer and teacher who founded The Macallan in 1824, whose surname means ‘the red one’ in Scots and was originally associated with red hair.
“In 1903, owner Roderick Kemp launched The Macallan Choice Old range, which was reportedly shipped in cases labelled with distinctive red print to distinguish it from The Macallan’s existing whiskies, which featured black labelling.
“Almost eight decades later, in 1980, red was to feature strongly in the release of The Macallan’s then oldest vintages, dated 1938, 1940 and 1950. Allan Shiach, chairman of The Macallan at that time, tied a red ribbon around the sought-after bottlings to denote their age and value.”