A bottle of 1926 Macallan whisky, dubbed ‘The Holy Grail of Whisky’, sold for £1.2m (US$1,528,800) at Christie’s in London, a world auction record for a bottle of whisky. Some of the 1926 Macallan have sold for an auction record this year but this present one is one-of-the-kind because it has a label uniquely hand-painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon.
1926 Macallan with a label designed by Michael Dillon
Valerio Adami (left) and Peter Blake (right)
The present one offered at Christie’s in London comes from the same batch of 1926 Macallan. The coveted 60-year-old Macallan whisky has broken auction records in four occasions this year. The only difference is on the label because this one is uniquely hand-painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon.
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
Michael Dillon is best known for his mural paintings
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.
Bottles of Macallan 60-year-old whisky sold for record-setting prices in different occasions this year. In May this year, two bottles of Macallan 60-year-old whisky, a ‘Peter Blake’ bottle and a ‘Valerio Adami’, sold for HK$7.96m and HK$8.63m.
Macallan 60-year-old whisky with a Valerio Adami label (left) and a Peter Blake label (right) sold for record prices at the same sale in May
Another bottle of ‘Valerio Adami’ Macallan 60-year old previously held the record for whisky
The 1926 Macallan with label designed by Michael Dillon becomes the most valuable bottle of whisky
The record was later replaced by another ‘Valerio Adami’ bottle of Macallan whisky sold in Edinburgh in August. The bottle of whisky was sold for £848,750 (HK$8.64m), slightly surpassing the previous record. And the present one offered at Christie’s London sold for £1.2m, becoming the first bottle of whisky breaking the £1m mark.
The sale confirms the strength of the market for whisky, especially for highly-coveted bottles like the 60-year-old Macallan. The owners of Macallan 1926 will a tough decision to make: bank on it as an investment… or drink it.
World’s Most Valuable Bottle of Whisky
The Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old malt in a bottle painted by Michael Dillon
Lot no.: 312
Price realised: £1,200,000
Auction house: Christie’s London
Sale: Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits
Date: 29 November 2018
Sale total: £5,692,476