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A signed bottle of The Macallan is now the most expensive whisky ever sold.

Mike Pomranz
May 21, 2018

How much would you be willing to pay for a shot of whisky? If the answer is any less than $65,000, then this bottle of Scotch isn’t for you. On Friday, a single 750-milliliter bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-Year-Old sold at auction for HK$ 8,636,250—or just over $1.1 million American—smashing the record not only for the most expensive standard-size bottle of whisky ever sold, but also the most expense lot of whisky of any size ever sold at auction.

Bonhams, the Hong Kong auction house behind the sale, knew they had a valuable Scotch on its hands. Last month, two other bottles from this same collection of The Macallan 1926 sold to a single buyer at a high-end spirits shop in the Dubai Airport for $1.2 million. As a result, experts estimated that Bonhams’ auction—which also had two bottles, but were put under the hammer separately—would likely see its bottles sell for upwards of $575,000. Needless to say, those estimates were obliterated. The first offering, a Macallan Peter Blake 1926 60-Year-Old, became the first-ever single bottle of whisky to sell for over $1 million when it was auctioned off for about $1,014,000. However, a mere three hours later, that first achievement was quickly overshadowed by the Valerio Adami bottle which was bid up to its all-time record high price.

Beyond the liquid inside, this series of Scotch from The Macallan is especially coveted because of its extremely limited production and handcrafted bottles. Only 24 bottles were ever produced, and all of them were given away as gifts from the distillery. To add to their allure, the bottles were divided up into two groups of 12, with one group going to British artist Sir Peter Blake, known for co-creating the cover to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the other going to the Italian artist Valerio Adami. As a result, the signed labels make these bottles works of art as much as vessels of pricey booze.

“These two bottles are the most significant whiskies ever produced in the 20th century and truly presented a once-in-a-generation opportunity for collectors to acquire the Holy Grail of Macallan,” Daniel Lam, Head of Fine Wine and Whisky, Bonhams Asia, said from the auction floor, according to The Drinks Business. “Active bidding came in from around the world but we saw new bidders from Southeast Asia including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia reflecting the growing appetite and appreciation for whisky among Asian collectors.”

Speaking of growing appetite, before this flurry of four bottles sold in the past two months, the last known sale of a bottle from this Macallan 1926 artists series took place in 2007 when a bottle was sold by Christie’s auction house for a mere $75,000. What a difference a decade makes: At that price, the owner might as well have just drank it.

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