The Holy Grail of Whisky, a Unique 1926 Macallan Could Fetch Record-Setting £1m

The red-hot whisky market has been growing rapidly, especially after the strong boosts by recent record-setting sales of 60-year-old Macallan whisky. Coming up soon on the market is a bottle of 1926 Macallan whisky, which is poised to set a new auction record with an estimate of £1m. This rare bottle of Macallan, dubbed ‘The Holy Grail of Whisky’, is not any bottle that we saw in previous auctions. What’s so special about it?

The present one, to be offered at Christie’s in London this November, comes from the same batch of 1926 Macallan which some of them have sold for an auction record this year. The only difference is on the label because this one is uniquely hand-painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon.

1926 Macallan with label designed by Sir Peter Blake

1926 Macallan with label designed by Michael Dillon

This prized bottle of aged single malt comes in a ‘one-of-a-kind’ presentation box with a letter from the Macallan’s whisky maker

In 1986, after six decades of maturation, The Macallan’s master distiller decided that this particular elixir had reached its zenith, and it was bottled, with appropriate reverence, into 40 bottles. Of the original 40 bottles, 12 had labels designed by Peter Blake, who is best known for designing the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album, and a further 12 individually numbered bottles were designed by the Italian painter Valerio Adami.

The bottles with labels designed by Peter Blake were released in 1989, and the Valerio Adami bottles in 1993. These bottles are much better known among whisky collectors. The remaining bottles joined The Macallan’s Fine & Rare Collection.

The present bottle is illustrated with Dillon’s depiction of The Macallan’s historic home, Easter Elchies House. It was last seen at Fortnum & Mason in London in 1999. It is estimated to fetch in the region of £1m.

The present bottle is illustrated with Dillon’s depiction of The Macallan’s historic home, Easter Elchies House

Such a high estimate also reflects the rapid growth in the whisky market in recent years. Speaking of the value of 60-year-old Macallan, Christie’s International Director of Wine Tim Triptree commented, ‘These whiskies rarely come up for sale. Prior to this year, the previous auction of a Macallan 60-year-old with an Adami label was in 2007. That sold for US$75,000. In the 11 years since its value has increased 14-fold, which shows the strength of the whisky market, and how collectable these bottles have become.’

The current record for the most expensive bottle of whisky is held by Macallan Valerio Adami 1926, which was sold for £814,081. Once the one offered at Christie’s is successfully sold, it will set a new auction record. The owners of Macallan 1926 will a tough decision to make: bank on it as an investment… or drink it.

A bottle of 50-year-old Yamazaki first edition

Besides the Macallan Michael Dillon 1926, the sale also presents a bottle of 50-year-old Yamazaki first edition, estimated at £150,000-200,000. Another bottle of the 50-year-old Yamazaki first edition was sold for nearly HK$2.7m (US$343,000), a record price for a single bottle of Japanese whisky. Let’s see if this one will set another auction record in the upcoming November sale.

Auction details

Auction house: Christie’s London
Sale: Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits
Date: 29 November 2018