Macallan Bottle Sells for Nearly $2 Million—Even Without the Fancy Artwork

Previous eye-popping auctions sold bottles of 1926 60-Year-Old with limited-edition labels. The latest record suggests the Scotch itself matters just as much.


On May 18, 2018, the Dow Jones Industrial average was at 24,715. Today, it's currently at 26,770. That's not a terrible return on your investment, but you could have done much better buying a single bottle of whisky. On May 18 of last year, a bottle of The Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old Scotch became the first single bottle of whisky to sell for $1 million. Today, a similar bottle from that same extremely limited release was sold at auction by Sotheby's in London for £1,452,000 or nearly $1.9 million at the current exchange rate (a price that includes the buyer's premium on top of the final bid price). Needless to say, Sotheby's "The Ultimate Whisky Collection"—as this auction event was called—has certainly lived up to its name.

If you are not familiar with The Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old, then you may be a fan of Scotch, but you are clearly not a fan of Scotch auctions. Referred to as the "holy grail" of whisky, The Macallan's now legendary "Cask 263" resulted in just 40 bottles of Scotch. The best known of those are a dozen featuring labels by artist Peter Blake; another dozen featuring labels by artist Valerio Adami; and two private-label bottles, one of which was hand-painted by artist Michael Dillon. These bottles have continued to break their own auction sales records, in part because of the big name artists behind the labels.

But amazingly, this newest record—the one that comes dangerously close to $2 million—isn't one of those bottles; it's one of the remaining 14 bottles containing The Macallan's straightforward "Fine and Rare" label. Yes, the liquid inside is identical, but in general, the bottles without the aforementioned artwork weren't seen as being as valuable. In fact, when Sotheby's announced this auction, they estimated that this "Fine and Rare" bottle would only sell for $430,000 to $555,000.

All this would seem to imply that, if an artwork-free bottle just sold for a record-breaking $1.9 million, one of the bottles with artwork could easily break the $2 million mark. So in the end, no, a bottle of Scotch has never sold for $2 million, but if you happen to have one of the 25 artist bottles in your collection, I wouldn't fault you for eyeing a payday very soon.

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