On Friday, the auction house Bonhams Hong Kong broke a major record when it sold two rare bottles of 60-year-old Macallan for over just over $1 million apiece. The bottles, up for auction as part of the house’s Fine & Rare Wine and Whiskey sale, were expected to sell for a little over half of that amount. (The Peter Blake version, above left, took home1,014,340, while the Valerio Adami bottle took $1,100,169.) The previous record for the most expensive whiskey sold at auction was $631,850—and that bottle, by volume, was eight times bigger than the ones sold on Friday.
These bottles are special not just because of their age, but also because of where they’re from. Old Macallan is one of the most coveted whiskies in the world. Earlier this year the distillery offered up a new release of 50-year-old stock from its archives with a shocking price tag.
In reality, it’s not surprising that this bottle broke one record and set a new one—a trend for the last several years has seen a near-incessant rise in the value of rare whiskies. It was reason enough for one of the largest lots of rare Japanese whisky to be offered up for auction a few months ago.
The liquid is universally prized by collectors, but it’s also a one-of-a-kind drinking experience for the few who dare to break the seal. We were lucky enough to sample a 65-year-old Macallan Lalique release a couple of years ago, which had hints of smoke. Some of the whisky in that bottle had been distilled just after World War II, when gas rations were running low and so distilleries that don’t typically use peat or coal were forced to do so to begin producing whisky again.
The Bonhams auction also featured a 52-year-old Karuizawa Japanese whisky from 1960 (the oldest Japanese whisky in the world), which went for $312,104.
In the rare circumstance that you know anyone who was at the auction and took home any of the exciting bottles on offer, we hope you’re on their good side.