Life

This bottle of whiskey could be worth $1.2 million — here's why

The Macallan 1926
The Macallan
The Macallan 1926

In May, a rare, 60-year-old Macallan whiskey sold at for $1.01 million at Bonhams Hong Kong, setting the record for the world's most expensive bottle of whiskey sold at auction. Hours later, another rare Macallan 1926 fetched $1.1 million at the same event.

Sotheby's New York is looking to break that record on Oct. 13 with the auction of The Macallan 1926 60 Year Old 750 ml. bottle of whiskey with a limited Peter Blake designed label. It's expected to fetch up to $1.2 million, the highest estimate ever placed on a bottle of wine or whiskey, according to Sotheby's.

The Macallan 1926.
The Macallan
The Macallan 1926.

The Macallan 1926 is the brand's oldest vintage. It's called "1926" because the malt whiskey was distilled in 1926, aged 60 years (in sherry casks) then released in 1986. Only 40 of the Macallan 1926 malt whiskey were made. Of those 40 bottles, 12 were labeled and signed that year with an exclusive design by British artist Peter Blake, who designed the album cover for The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Bottle No. 9 of the 12 made is being sold by Sotheby's.

Album cover designed by art director Robert Fraser for The Beatles' album 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' which was released on June 1, 1967. 
Michael Ochs Archives | Michael Ochs Archives | Getty Images
Album cover designed by art director Robert Fraser for The Beatles' album 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' which was released on June 1, 1967. 

There are just over 25 ounces in the 750 ml. bottle, and since a serving of whiskey is 1 ounce, if the whiskey sells for $1.2 million that's $48,000 a glass.

"The market for rare, limited release, high-quality whiskies has been broadening," Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby's Wine tells CNBC Make It, "and demand has significantly increased in the last three years, driven by Asian and American buyers. As the market broadens, prices have increased. Last year, the four highest prices achieved by Sotheby's Wine, both auction and retail, were whiskey."

Ritchie says The Macallan 1926 with Peter Blake label is expected to fetch between $700,000 to $1.2 million.

Before Bonhams Hong Kong, two bottles of The Macallan 1926, one with a Peter Blake label and one with a Valerio Adami label (only 12 were made with this Italian artist) sold at Dubai Airport retailer Le Clos for $60,000 each in April 2018. A bottle of The Macallan 1926 (with Valerio Adami label) went for $75,000 at a Christie's auction in 2007, according to Macallan.

Peter Blake design label on the left; Valerio Adami design label on the right. 
The Macallan
Peter Blake design label on the left; Valerio Adami design label on the right.