'Rolls Royce' of whisky fetches record $1 million at auction


One of the world’s most in-demand whiskies has been auctioned off in Edinburgh, Scotland, with the buyer shelling out a record-breaking £848,750 ($1.1 million/€957,800) for the distilled spirit.

The Scotch whisky, a Macallan Valerio Adami 1926, was one of just 24 bottles produced by the Macallan distillery in 1986. Distilled in 1926, the whisky spent 60 years aging in a cask before being bottled.

“It’s the Rolls Royce of malts,” said Martin Green, the whisky specialist at Bonhams, the luxury auction house that offered up the bottle on Wednesday.

A private buyer from Asia placed the winning bid on the bottle via phone, Bonhams said.

Bonhams drink expert Richard Harvey told the Agence France-Presse that interest from Asia in whisky is booming.

About “a third to 40 percent of our sales go out to buyers in the Far East,” Harvey said.

Read more: Japan’s whisky stocks run dry as global demand soars

Label by famous artist

Macallan, one of Scotland’s most renowned single-malt distilleries, commissioned pop artists Valerio Adami and Peter Blake, best known for co-designing the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album sleeve in 1967, to create the labels for the 24 1926 whiskies.

The bottle auctioned Wednesday featured a label designed by Adami, known for his flat forms and thick black lines.

It had been bought by the vendor directly from Macallan for an undisclosed sum in 1994.

Another bottle featuring an Adami label was auctioned off in Hong Kong this past May for just over £800,000.

An auctioneer stands at a podium while bottle of whisky is showed on a screen (Reuters/R. Cheyne)

The record-breaking bottle was bought via phone

It’s unknown how many of the 24 bottles from the 1926 whisky series still exist. One is believed to have been destroyed in an earthquake in Japan in 2011, and another is thought to have been opened and drunk.

Bonhams whisky expert Green doesn’t expect the record-breaking bottle to be decanted.

“Obviously we don’t know what will happen to it, but anyone who can spend around a million pounds for a bottle of whisky could afford to drink it. But it’s an object of beauty in its own right — almost a museum piece.”

cmb/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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