Our Christmas Art & Antiques auction on 1st December featured a large selection of fine wines, champagnes, fortified wines, and a single owner collection of 112 bottles of whisky. Demand is always strong at this time of year as people turn their attentions to Christmas festivities, and this year proved no different. The collection of whisky that cost approximately £3,500 when bought new in the 1980s and 1990s realised over £13,000. The subsequent auction on the 15th December also had high Christmas Spirit, with a bottle of Kweichow Moutai (a Chinese spirit) from the early 1990s helping a job-lot realise £1,700!
The 1st December auction featured fine wine from one of the world’s most renowned wine estates in Bordeaux - that from the Rothschild Estates. One bottle of 1982 vintage Chateau Mouton Rothschild, from Pauillac, sold for a hammer price of £600, with two further bottles from 1986 realising £1000 and four bottles from 1994 fetching £950.
The whisky collection certainly had a touch of the Christmas Past at heart. The collection was formed during the 1980s and 1990s by a Midlands-based vendor and his late father, who enjoyed a hobby of finding and buying different bottles to try together. As father and son also shared a passion for walking in Scotland and The Lake District, many of the bottles were bought on these trips where they would buy two bottles; one to open and try together and another to keep for a ‘rainy day.’
The pair inevitably found some rarities on their travels; one bottle of Longrow 14 Year Old, likely to have been bottled in the early 1980s and bought for £14, increased its value tenfold nearly 40 years on at the auction, selling for £1,400. Another rare find was a bottle of Talisker 1958 which father and son discovered sitting behind a standard bottle of Talisker for £15. They bought both bottles and the 1958 vintage sold for £900.
“It was a real pleasure to sell this collection of whisky with a family story behind it,” comments Will Gilding, Wine and Whisky specialist. “No doubt some were given as Christmas gifts, and certainly toasted Christmasses of years past. We offered the 112 bottles as 62 lots, with all of them selling, showing continued strong demand for whiskies of rare vintages, especially whiskies bottled and well preserved from the 1980s and 1990s. Also, it is interesting to note that of all the bottles in the auction, the most expensive bottle had the plainest label, proving that with whisky you should never judge a book by its cover.”
The high prices paid for the fine wine in the auction are a testament to the current strength of the market for rare and vintage wines. “Wine from world renowned French estates like Chateau Mouton Rothschild is always highly sought after by serious collectors who buy the wine as an investment,” explains Will. “However, we are also seeing great demand for wine that while still expensive, is comparatively affordable and more likely to be opened and enjoyed by buyers.”
Perhaps the most surprising result of all is the result from the 15th December - the bottle of Kweichow Moutai from China. Still all sealed and in its carton, there is no doubt the price of £1,700 paid for the lot which featured a general assortment of mostly Western spirits and wines was reserved for the rare Chinese spirit. "An innocuous bottle of Eastern spirit lying un-opened at the back of the drinks cabinet. Who hasn't got one of those? These December auctions show that alcohol that has been sat laying untouched for years can hold significant value. If you're having an early Spring clean of the cupboards in 2021, or are doing a "Dry January" - whatever you do - don't pour it away and throw it in the recycling! Get it valued first!".