A 78-year-old whisky is the longest-aged ever to hit the auction block.

By Mike Pomranz
October 16, 2020
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Imagine for a moment that you have just sold a bottle of whiskey for nearly $2 million. Your initial thought would probably be holy crap after which, you may find yourself thinking, we need more of that whiskey! Of course, part of what makes a whiskey so valuable is its rarity, and aged whiskey can’t just be produced out of thin air. That said, if you do happen to have some old barrels kicking around the distillery, now may be a good time to pop it into bottles and put it up for sale.

The Macallan

More than a hypothetical, over the past decade, The Macallan has become probably the most coveted whisky brand in an exploding collectors’ market—a fervor driven in part of the repeated record-breaking, million-dollar sales of The Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old Scotch. Only 40 bottles were ever released, but that hasn’t stopped The Macallan from digging into their cellar, bottling other old whiskies, and offering them at incredible prices.

Two years ago, The Macallan released its then-oldest ever Scotch—a 72 Year Old—packaged in a Lalique decanter and initially priced at $60,000. Now, the distillery is going even older—78 Years Old. And if scarcity is what you’re after, one way you can buy this new release is as part of an “artist’s label” six-bottle set. Only two of these specially-labeled collections are being produced, and only one will be sold. Estimated auction price: $250,000 to $1 million.

The Macallan

For the penny-pinchers among us, the six bottles—known as The Red Collection—can be purchased individually at slightly less lofty prices: The Macallan 40 Years Old for $15,000, The Macallan 50 Years Old for $50,000, The Macallan 60 Years Old for $65,000, The Macallan 71 Years Old for $78,000, The Macallan 74 Years Old for $82,000, and The Macallan 78 Years Old for $87,000. But these standard label versions certainly won’t excite collectors as much as the bottles with artist’s labels, each hand-signed by Spanish artist and illustrator Javi Aznarez. In fact, probably not coincidentally, part of the appeal of The Macallan 1926 is that many of the bottles also come with limited edition artwork.

“We are thrilled to partner with The Macallan to offer The Red Collection, alongside our second offering of The Ultimate Whisky Collection, as part of our inaugural Halloween Spirits sale,” said Jonny Fowle, spirits specialist for Sotheby’s, which will be hosting the event. “This is the only opportunity for whisky collectors to own a truly special Red Collection set.”

Importantly, the Javi Aznarez designed set isn’t a cash grab. Quite the opposite: The Macallan donated the bottles to City Harvest London—a charity that is redistributing surplus food to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic—and the proceeds will be going to that good cause.

However, if charity auctions aren’t your thing, but you do happen to have $87,000 lying around, The Macallan’s oldest bottling ever released is available as of yesterday from the distillery’s “global network of domestic and travel retail outlets.”

“Created from some of the world’s oldest and rarest casks, it is an incredible privilege to have crafted The Red Collection, the pinnacle of The Macallan’s portfolio,” Master Whisky Maker Kirsteen Campbell stated in the announcement. “It’s thanks to the foresight of previous custodians of The Macallan, who laid down and aged these extraordinary casks, that we have been able to curate such a remarkable selection of whiskies.” Or to put it another way, not only is patience a virtue, but it can also be quite lucrative.