Bids for Pricey Scotch Whisky On Target

Glass of Whiskey
Jonnie Miles | Getty Images
Glass of Whiskey

A single bottle of Scotch whisky commanded $9,520 and the entire auction brought in $201,000 on Tuesday, reflecting a robust interest in fine spirits among private and trade collectors alike.

"We're very happy with the results," said Richard Pike, the New York whisky and wine director at the dedicated whisky sale at Bonhams and Butterfields in New York City, which organized the auction.

Adding the New York auction's take to that from Bonhams whisky auction last week in Edinburgh, Scotland, the amber-colored elixir's sales were $435,000 over a five-day period.

The priciest bottle was the Macallan 50-Year-Old Anniversary Malt, which, at $9,520, met pre-auction estimate of between $9,000 and $11,000. Among the other spirits sold was a 37-year-old Bowmore, matured in bourbon wood, for $1,428, under estimate of between $1,800 and $2,500.

Some 35 local private and trade collectors showed up at the Madison Avenue auction house, while other bidders called in from Europe, the Americas and Asia, with a significant number from Taiwan.

The vast majority the whisky sold on Tuesday was single-malt scotch, which is made by a single distiller in a still pot using only malted barley. Also for sale were blended Scotch and Irish whisky lots.

Bonhams is planning its next New York whisky auction around Thanksgiving, the second one of the year. Going forward, Bonhams in New York will stage two whisky sales each year—a first for a Big Apple auction house.

Among its competitors, Christie’s holds auctions once a year, before the holidays, which include whisky and other spirits. At November’s auction, Christie’s was the first house to offer the 1964 Bowmore Trilogy at auction. Sotheby’s rarely sells whisky.

Bonhams, before it was joined by Butterfields, opened its doors in 1793. It has long organized whisky auctions in Edinburgh and, more recently, added the sales to its Hong Kong location's schedule.