Saturday, May 26, 2012


The Bowmore Trilogy, 1964 (lot 271). Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

LONDON.- Christie’s announced the extraordinary opportunity to purchase a bottle of the rarest Glenfiddich ever released. Bottle no’42 of 61 from the Glenfiddich Rare Collection, distilled in 1937 and bottled in 2001 is offered from the collection of an Anonymous Private Collector (estimate: £50,000-70,000). The bottle leads Christie’s auction of Fine and Rare Wines Including Rare Spirits, which will be held in London on 7 June 2012 at 10.30am. Chris Munro, Head of Wine, Christie’s London commented, “We are very excited to be able to offer our clients the opportunity to bid for such a rare whisky in our June auction. The already global collecting base within the whisky market continues to grow, with a great deal of crossover from our established wine buyers, and I’ve no doubt this bottle will invite a flurry of interest from collectors both old and new.”

Bowmore, Main Street 

    In 1937, cask 843 was filled with spirit from the stills at The Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown and laid down in a dark, damp dunnage warehouse to mature and develop. It was discovered to be an unusually slow-maturing whisky and over its life ten consecutive warehouse masters patiently watched over cask 843 and frequently nosed and tasted the whisky, noting its development. After 64 years, the longest time a single malt whisky had remained in cask at that time, in October 2001, Glenfiddich's Malt Master David Stewart declared that cask 843 was finally ready to be bottled. Just sixty-one bottles were left in the cask, of which the present example is bottle forty-two. *The world record price for a bottle of whisky sold at auction was achieved when a bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve was sold at a charity sale in New York for 94,000 US dollars (£59,335). 

    A unique Lalique crystal decanter, made to celebrate the anniversary of René Lalique’s birth and filled with 64-year-old Macallan, holds the highest price for whisky sold at auction, fetching $460,000 for charity in November 2010. Also on offer is The Bowmore Trilogy, 1964 (estimate: £12,000-15,000) which comprises a Black, White and Gold bottle, each aged in oak cask, in pristine condition and within a presentation gift box. In 1964, the Bowmore distillery began utilizing steampowered stills rather than the original coal-fired units, which enabled more precise temperature control, and resulted in much smoother and more consistent spirits. It is from those stills that this particular trilogy was born, with each of the three colours, Black Bowmore, White Bowmore, and now Gold Bowmore, coming from the same year. 

Bowmore Round Church 

   In 2007, just 827 bottles were produced of Black Bowmore which had been matured purely in Oloroso casks for an ebony colour that was matched by aromas of exotic fruits, ginger, and cinnamon. White Bowmore followed in 2008 with only 732 bottles produced, and was characterized by maturation in Bourbon casks, and scents of melon, mango, and papaya. In 2009, Gold Bowmore joined the group, with only 701 bottles available worldwide. Gold Bowmore was placed in three Bourbon casks and one Oloroso sherry cask before being meticulously blended together. This precious expression quietly matured below sea level for 44 years in the Number 1 vault, allowing the namesake rich, gold colour to develop, along with a balance of complex aromas and flavours including those of exotic fruits, creamy vanilla, and gentle peat smoke. Further whisky highlights on offer within the auction include Glenfiddich Private Reserve 1955 (estimate: £8,000-12,000) and The Macallan Select Reserve 52 year old (estimate: £5,000-6,000).

NOTE:  As much as I enjoy Scotch whisky (both single malts and fine blends) and dislike raining on anyone's parade, there is something disturbing about the commerce described here and the preciousness of the aesthetics on display.  Both seem out of synch with the energetic, salty greatness of the whisky-makers' art and craft and the rough but fine Scottish spirit.

Ialso find the vague diffidence of auctioneer Chris Munroe’s remarks curious -- almost funereal.  

It's as though he, like everyone else, is simply counting down the Eurozone crisis and proposing that, if the world can survive until at least June 7,  there would be worse (far worse) ways to spend time than attending his whisky auction in London to witness the purchase of some pretty bottles with an interesting story that will never ever be opened, but instead sensibly laid away as a financial hedge until the next crisis. 

An after-excursion north to Bowmore in Islay would be Divine -- just look at the skies there!

How on earth did Europe allow this to happen? – do it to themselves? – and the rest of us?


Bowmore Distillery

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