Charitable Whisky Auction Raises £3.1 million

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Over 40 exceptional whiskies and experiences found new owners from all over the world on December 3rd, when the first in a series of auctions under the banner The Distillers One of One took place at Barnbougle Castle near Edinburgh, organised by The Distillers’ Charity, the philanthropic arm of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, in collaboration with Sotheby’s.

The auction was staged in the Banqueting Hall, during a lively lunch where the bidders regularly erupted into applause as records tumbled, new benchmarks were set, and funds were raised for the charitable causes. Collectors in the room, on the telephones and online competed for the 42 lots on offer, and by the time the sale drew to a close, the auction had reached a total of £3.1 million / $4.1 million, two and a half times the pre-sale low estimate. Participants from around the world were out in force with registrants from 24 countries.

Over £2 million will be divided between four charity partners of The Youth Action Fund, which has been created by The Distillers’ Charity to transform the life chances of 16 to 25-year-old people in Scotland, empowering them to create positive change in their lives and communities.

Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “Our global wine and spirits team were delighted to partner with The Worshipful Company of Distillers and their philanthropic arm, The Distillers’ Charity, to create a new series of charity auctions that showcase the best of the Scotch Whisky industry and provide important funds to benefit disadvantaged young people in Scotland. The phenomenal outcome of this auction follows the significant success of the recent Hospices de Beaune wine sale and we look forward to our first auction with the Napa Valley Vintners early in the year. We are committed to working together with these charitable organisations to unite collectors with special opportunities to acquire rare bottles, while benefiting the communities of each region.”

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, said: “Working with The Worshipful Company of Distillers to present the biggest charity auction project in the history of Scotch Whisky has been one of the most rewarding projects of my career. This was a truly unique collection of whiskies, for which we can thank the creativity and generosity of the distilleries who willingly came on board. Equally generous were the collectors who participated, driving the overall total beyond expectations. Record prices were achieved for Bowmore, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Ladyburn, and Talisker.”

Leading the sale was the spectacular four bottle set of Glenfiddich from the 1950s (1955, 1957, 1958 and 1959) as shown above. An extended 30-minute bidding battle broke out as eight collectors competed against each other, driving the final sale price to £1,037,500 / $1,380,760 (est. £220,000-350,000). Provided by William Grant & Sons, this ultra-rare collector’s piece established a new auction record for Glenfiddich.

The second most valuable lot of the sale was the Talisker 1978 Cask of Distinction, which was competed for by several collectors in the room, online and on the telephones, selling to a private collector for a record price of £625,000 / $831,780 (est. £350,000-500,000). This 43 Year Old cask of still-maturing Talisker single malt Scotch whisky was offered with a cask-end that has been turned into an original work of art by acclaimed Scottish painter Callum Innes.

A new auction record was achieved when the Bowmore Onyx 51 Year Old 1970 – presented in a striking, hand-blown, 1.4l black glass vessel taking its inspiration from the terroir of its island home – surpassed its estimate, selling for £400,000 / $532,340 (est. £100,000-180,000).

A further auction record was achieved for ‘lost’ distillery, Ladyburn, when a bottle of 54-year-old whisky distilled in 1966, uniquely labelled with a highly sought-after, hand-signed photograph by David Bailey of John Lennon, made £81,250 / $108,132 (est. £15,000-30,000).

Other significant purchases on the day, from those looking to secure themselves a piece of liquid history, included The Glen Garioch Twin Casks in Cradle 1990 and 2021, which realised £112,500 / $149,720 (est. £100,000-150,000), and The Balvenie 56 Year Old 1964, which exceeded its estimate of £50,000-80,000 to sell for £175,000 / $232,900.

Several once-in-a-lifetime whisky experiences were included in the auction, including the Gordon & MacPhail One of One Selection Experience from the 1940s or 1950s – an unforgettable, immersive visit to Speyside with the opportunity for the lucky recipient to work alongside the team to create their very own whisky – which sold for £87,500 / $116,450 (est. £80,000-160,000).

As well as the incredible support that the auction received through lot donations, the Distillers One of One auction was delighted to have the involvement of five sponsors that made the event possible. Blyth & Blyth, engineering design consultants, Simpson’s Malt, makers of high quality malt, Glencairn Crystal Studio, inventors of the industry’s favourite glass, The Glencairn Glass, J.C. Ribeiro, makers of high-quality cork stoppers and McLaren Packaging, designers and manufacturers of premium packaging.

Full auction results:

Ardbeg Personalised 1975 Single Cask One of One Bottle + Experience £37,500

That Boutique-y Whisky Company 24 Year Old One of One Distilled at Ardbeg Distillery £5,250

Ardnahoe Madeira Cask of New Make Spirit 2021 £10,000

Bowmore Onyx 51 Year Old 1970 £400,000

A.D. Rattray ‘The Queen's Visit’ 1980 Distilled at Bowmore Distillery £6,000

Bruichladdich Cask of Organic Single Malt 2011 £22,500

Kilchoman American Oak Cask of New Make 2021 £13,750

Douglas Laing’s XOP Port Ellen 39 Year Old 1982 £8,750

Aberfeldy 45 Year Old Crystallerie Royal de Saint Louis Single Cask Edition 1975 £18,750

Arbikie Cask of Highland Rye 2017 £8,750

Ardnamurchan Cask of Peated Single Malt 2018 £10,625

Balblair 43 and 23 Year Old Twin Decanters, Hand Bottling + Experience £6,250

Glen Garioch Twin Casks in Cradle 1990 and 2021 £112,500

The GlenDronach 50 Year Old 1971 Bottle No.1 + Experience £40,000

Glenfarclas Single Cask One of One 1965 £21,250

The Glenturret Uaine 1987 + Experience £37,500

Old Pulteney 32 and 30 Year Old Twin Decanters £7,500

Tomatin 50 Year Old Cask No. 40 1971 £22,500

Isle of Raasay Ex-Marsala Cask of Unpeated New Make Spirit 2021 £10,000

Lagg Sherry Hogshead Cask 2019 £11,250

Talisker Cask of Distinction 1978 + Artwork by Callum Innes £625,000

Aberargie Cask No. 1, Bottle No. 1 2017 £23,750

Bladnoch Rare Private Amontillado Sherry Cask Experience £21,250

Borders Distillery American Oak Cask of New Make Spirit 2021 £7,500

Holyrood Distillery The Four Centuries Oloroso Hogshead Cask of New Make Spirit 2021


Ladyburn David Bailey's John Lennon 54 Year Old 1966 £81,250

Lindores Abbey Cask of Organic Single Malt New Make Spirit 2021 £9,375

Littlemill Testament Special Edition 1976 £16,250

North British 60 Year Old One of One £8,750

Ballindalloch Cask Fill Experience £11,875

The Balvenie 56 Year Old 1964 £175,000

Craigellachie 41 Year Old Crystallerie Royal de Saint Louis Single Cask Edition 1980 £10,625

The Glen Grant 60 Year Old Bottle No. 1 + Experience £23,750

Glen Moray 32 Year Old Port Cask Finish Decanter 1988 + Experience £11,250

GlenAllachie Single Cask No. 1379 One of One 42 Year Old 1978 £11,875

Glenfiddich The 1950s Collection £1,037,500

Gordon & MacPhail One of One Selection Experience From The 1940s or 1950s £87,500

Tamnavulin 50 Year Old One of One + Experience £22,500

Berry Bros. & Rudd Special Bottling, Tour & Dining Experience for 8 + Bottle of Ronnie's

Reserve 1969 £10,625

Last Drop One of One Blending Experience £37,500

Royal Salute 50 Year Old Time Series + Experience £25,000

The Glencairn Ruby Tribute Blended Scotch Whisky £15,000

Jonathan Driver, Master of The Worshipful Company of Distillers, said: “We are truly overwhelmed by the amount that has been raised and are so grateful to all of the sponsors, brands and bidders who got involved, donated spectacular lots and showed us incredible support, for making this happen. To know that over £2.5 million will now be distributed to help young people across Scotland through our charity partners is really special. The success of our first auction is so exciting and we are thrilled that we can continue to support more people for at least the next six years, thanks to our ongoing partnership with Sotheby’s. This whole event wouldn’t have been possible had companies of all sizes from across the Scotch Whisky industry not come together in this amazing collective endeavour. It showcases just how extraordinary the people who work in the world of Scotch Whisky are and we are privileged to have been the catalyst for this landmark sale. We want to extend a huge thanks to everyone involved.”

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