On 5th October, Sotheby’s hosted the Distillers One of One auction, marking a significant event in the whisky industry. This wasn’t just another auction; it set new records in the world of whisky sales.
A Historical Perspective
The Distillers’ Charity, in collaboration with The Worshipful Company of Distillers, was the driving force behind this auction. The Worshipful Company, with its roots tracing back to 1638, has been a stalwart in the distillation industry. The Distillers’ Charity, established in 1955, has a commendable mission: providing vocational training to young individuals in the UK spirits industry, with a special focus on Scotland. Their efforts have garnered support from industry giants like Glencairn Crystal and Bentley.
A Tradition of Giving
The One of One auction is not a new entrant in the auction world. Its inaugural event in December 2021 at Barnbougle Castle, Edinburgh, set the tone for what was to come. Scheduled to be held biennially, this auction is unique in its offerings, presenting one-off lots that are often the envy of collectors worldwide. In its first year, the auction successfully raised £2.4 million for the Distiller’s Charity. Fast forward to 2023, the event at Hopetoun House, Edinburgh, saw total sales amounting to £2,248,750. While Sotheby’s played the role of the perfect host, it’s worth noting that a buyer’s premium was levied on the hammer price, a standard practice in high-stakes auctions.
The Showstoppers: A Deeper Dive
The auction was a treasure trove for collectors and enthusiasts. Here’s an in-depth look at the top lots:
Gordon & MacPhail The Recollection Showcase: This collection was a testament to the rich history of distilleries, some of which no longer exist. The set’s crown jewel was the oldest Port Ellen ever released by G&M. Housed in a meticulously crafted elm and oak cabinet from Method Studio, the lot commanded a price of £93,750.
The Glenturret Enduring Spirit: Representing over four centuries of distillation, this lot comprised four vintage Glenturret decanters. The inclusion of Lalique crystal decanters added to its allure, pushing its final sale price to £125,000.
Glen Grant 1955 68 YO The Visionary: A testament to the art of aging, this 68-year-old whisky, presented in a unique hand-blown decanter, was the talk of the auction. Its final hammer price? A cool £212,500.
Brora Iris 1972 50 YO: More than just a bottle of whisky, this lot was a blend of history and art. The 1972 bottle was complemented by a handcrafted stone sculpture by renowned artist Michelle De Bruin. It fetched a staggering £400,000.
Bowmore 1962 55 YO Stac: A tribute to Bowmore’s rich heritage, this bottle, with its intricate design, was the undisputed star of the show. It found a new home for a whopping £562,500.
The Distillers One of One auction at Sotheby’s was more than just an event; it was a celebration of the rich tapestry of the whisky world. With a perfect blend of history, craftsmanship, and philanthropy, the auction has firmly established itself as a key date in the global business calendar. As the gavel came down on these prized lots, it was clear that the world of whisky is not just about spirits; it’s about heritage, art, and, most importantly, legacy.