NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rare spirits went for record high prices at Christie’s New York auction house on Saturday with one bottle of 1926 Macallan Scotch selling for $54,000.
It became the most expensive bottle of Scotch whiskey ever sold by the auction house, said Christie’s, which has been holding similar sales in Europe for a decade.
Bought by a private New York investor, the Macallan was bottled in 1986 after spending 60 years in a wooden barrel. It had originally been expected to sell from between $20,000 and
Richard Brierley, head of wine and spirits sales for Christie’s America, was asked at an earlier press briefing if anyone would actually drink such a Scotch.
“Absolutely. Something like this is bullet-proof,” he said. “Unlike fine wines, which really after being opened are really something that should be consumed that night.”
“These whiskeys can be enjoyed for years. You can open it up, have some, close the bottle and enjoy it again at your leisure. It’s not going to spoil,” he said.
One anonymous buyer paid $102,000 for what Brierley described as “an instant Scotch library” containing 729 bottles from blended Scotches to single malts from distilleries, some of them now mothballed or destroyed, in the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands.
The auction brought in a total of $304,800, exceeding expectations. Prices did not include the buyer’s premium and sales tax.
The auction also included rare cognac, Armagnac, whiskeys, Calvados and Chartreuse. A bottle of Cognac Grande Fine Champagne named for Napoleon’s wife, the Empress Josephine, and distilled in 1811, sold for $3,600, Christie’s said.
This was the first auction of whiskeys and spirits to be held in New York since Prohibition. The United States outlawed the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages during Prohibition, which ran from 1920 through 1933.
But New York state did not pass laws authorizing wine auctions until 1994, and spirit auctions until August of this year, said Frank Coleman, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council.
Reporting by Leslie Gevirtz, editing by Todd Eastham