Rare whiskies going to auction at French spirits sale

Bidding is now open on Sotheby’s inaugural spirits auction in France.

This will be the first of a regular series of spirits sales in Continental Europe, following the successful launch of wine auctions in France in 2021.

Leading the sale is a bottle of The Yamazaki 50 Year Old, offered at auction for the first time in over two years, alongside a curated assortment of The Macallan, including The Fine & Rare series, arguably the most sought-after and collectible Scotch whisky series ever bottled.

Comprising 11 lots with a combined pre-sale estimate in excess of £417,250.58 (€500,000), Fine & Rare Whisky – The Inaugural Spirit Sale in France will close for bidding at noon GMT/1pm CET on January 21.

Amayès Aouli, head of auction sales for continental Europe, Sotheby’s Wine, said: ‘We are continuing to see strong growth in the Spirits market, as demonstrated by our global sales of $21 million in 2021. Our expansion to hosting regular spirits sales in Continental Europe will add France as an important centre for collectors around the world.

‘This opening will also provide European collectors of spirits in general, and whisky in particular, with the greatest access to the global market. Using the same vision as our inaugural wine sale, this auction is composed of the rarest bottles from two of the most prestigious distilleries in the world: Yamazaki and Macallan.’

The Yamazaki 50 Year Old was the oldest Japanese whisky ever bottled upon its release. This edition, the third, is one of only 150 bottles released in 2011, making it one of the rarest of Japanese whiskies (est. €200,000-300,000 – £166,913.53-250,370.29).

The Yamazaki Distillery was established in 1923, becoming Japan’s first malt whisky distillery. Since its humble beginnings, the distillery has gone on to be one of the most popular and sought-after across the world and due to its rich history and careful management, it now has the ability to bring out exceptionally long-aged releases.

Having spent over half a century in the finest Japanese Mizunara oak casks, the spirit is deep and rich, with a luxurious spice imparted from the wood. The bottle itself is etched with exquisite detail on the front, and comes housed in a handmade dark wooden box, separating it from the first two releases.

Complementing the Japanese component of the sale, a rare The Yamazaki 25 Year Old is being offered (est. €5,500-8,000 – £4,590.24-£6,676.71).

From Scotland, the sale is made up with highly coveted bottles from The Macallan, ranging in age from 21 years to over 78 years old. The Macallan 50 Year Old in Lalique is the first edition of the Six Pillars Collection, originally released in 2005.

The Macallan The Red Collection 78 Year Old

The first and most highly coveted release from the series, only 470 decanters were produced. With not one, but two of these extraordinarily rare whiskies included in this auction, the sale offers an opportunity to complete the Lalique Collection in the form of the most difficult to obtain release of them all (each estimated at €65,000-95,000 – £54,246.67-79,283.60).

In addition, is a more recent release which also happens to be the oldest bottle of The Macallan ever brought to market, The Macallan The Red Collection 78 Year Old, released in 2020. Part of the Red Collection, a six-bottle series, this whisky is housed in a wooden presentation case constructed using the same wood to make The Macallan casks, with each bottle hand numbered (est. €80,000-120,000 – £66,756.87-100,135).

Completing the sale is no less than six bottles from The Macallan Fine & Rare series, dating back to 1937 (est. €26,000-35,000 – £21,695.98-29,206.13) and as old as 49 years (est. €26,000-38,000 – £21,694.32-31,707.08). The series is considered amongst the most desirable of all Scotch whiskies and very few collectors own the complete set.

Sotheby’s set the world record price for a bottle of whisky when a bottle of The Macallan Fine & Rare 60 Year Old 1926 was sold for $1.9 million in 2019 (£1.39 million).