Million-Dollar Macallan Makes Online Auction History

With the click of a mouse, the first million-dollar whisky has been sold at an online whisky auction. The bottle of rare Macallan was the highlight of The Perfect Collection Part One by Whisky Auctioneer, an estate sale of nearly 4,000 bottles, split into two sales, that has the potential to become the greatest whisky auction of all time. A European buyer paid a record $1,180,703, including premiums, for the 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami 60 year old on February 17, 2020, setting a record for Scotland’s most expensive whisky ever auctioned.  It’s also the sixth standard-sized whisky bottle ever to achieve $1 million at auction, and the third-highest auction price ever achieved for a bottle of whisky. Even with the lower premiums charged by online whisky auction houses, this sale unambiguously surpassed the previous record for the Valerio Adami bottle, set in 2018.

Whisky Auctioneer’s New Record For 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami 60 year old

* Calculated using historical currency tables at

Bonhams—Oct. 3, 2018 Whisky Auctioneer—Feb. 17, 2020
Buyer’s Premium 25% 10%
Hammer Price £679,000/$882,095 £825,000/$1,073,366
Price including Premium £848,750/$1,102,619 £907,500/$1,180,703

Although online whisky auctions are a nascent industry, they’ve grown to become the main method for collectors around the world to buy and sell whisky on the secondary market. Typically, they involve simultaneous sales of thousands of whisky bottles over a 10-day period—quite different from traditional live auctions, where an auctioneer handles the sale of each lot individually over 30 seconds to bidders in the room, on the phone, and online. To be successful in their bids, collectors need to adopt different strategies to best suit each auction format.

What are the Million-Dollar Whiskies?

The first million-dollar whiskies sold in Hong Kong in May 2018. All six came from a single cask of Macallan, distilled in 1926 and matured for 60 years. Although different artistic labels were produced, the 1926 Macallan Fine & Rare 60 year old holds the current world record. To date, five auction houses in Scotland, England, and Hong Kong have auctioned million-dollar whiskies (Bonhams, Hong Kong has done it twice). But there is another bottle out there.

Million Dollar 1926 Macallan 60 year old

1926 Macallan 60 year old Price (including buyer’s premium) Auction House Date
Fine & Rare $1,873,951 Sotheby’s, London October 24, 2019
Michael Dillon $1,528,800 Christie’s, London November 29, 2018
Valerio Adami $1,180,703 Whisky Auctioneer, Perth February 17, 2020
Valerio Adami $1,102,619 Bonhams, Edinburgh October 3, 2018
Valerio Adami $1,100,196 Bonhams, Hong Kong May 18, 2018
Peter Blake $1,014,273 Bonhams, Hong Kong May 18, 2018

Whisky Auctioneer has a second bottle of 1926 Macallan Fine & Rare 60 year old which will be offered during The Perfect Collection Part Two. This is the first bottle of its kind to be sold since Sotheby’s set the world record in 2019. The fact that Whisky Auctioneer beat the existing world record for the 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami 60 year old suggests that it can challenge the Sotheby’s record in April, but let’s take nothing for granted. Whisky Auctioneer’s 1926 Macallan Fine & Rare 60 year old must attract a bid that’s 59% higher than its Valerio Adami record in order to break the world record. Depending on the currency markets, a hammer price in the region of £1.31 million will be the key figure to reach.

What else happened in The Perfect Collection Part One?

The sale raised $4,277,000 from 1,932 bottles (99.4% of lots sold) and attracted 1,642 bidders from 56 countries. The top prices for each style of whisky are shown below. One in 10 bottles sold was Macallan, which accounted for three in every five dollars spent. Fifty-five bottles sold for more than $10,000 apiece, though there was something for everyone: 126 bottles and 43 miniatures sold for a hammer price of less than $100, with a bottle of Colonel’s Special selling for under $20. Numerous other record prices were set for individual bottlings, including 1928 Macallan Anniversary Malt 50 year old, which sold for $119,700 (£92,000).

Perfect Collection Part One—Highest Prices by Whisky Style

Style Highest Hammer Price Bottling
Speyside Single Malt $1,073,366 1926 Macallan 60 year old Valerio Adami
Campbeltown Single Malt $234,189 1919 Springbank 50 year old
Islay Single Malt $37,080 1964 Bowmore 35 year old
Highland Single Malt $6,115 1965 Whyte & Whyte Clynelish 28 year old
Lowland Single Malt $1,821 George Strachan Rosebank 20 year old
Closed Distillery Scotch Whisky (also Island Single Malt) $33,827 O. O. Old Orkney Real Liqueur Whisky (circa 1930s)
Scotch Whisky Miniature $1,652 1953 Macallan Fine & Rare 49 year old
Grain Scotch Whisky $1,561 1963 Cadenhead (distilled at Caledonian Distillery) 21 year old Sherry Wood
Blended Malt Scotch $3,383 1922 Berry Bros. & Rudd Highland Malt 18 year old
Blended Grain Scotch $1,106 Compass Box Hedonism
Blended Scotch $7,286 Sandy MacDonald Special Liqueur Whisky (circa 1920–1923)
Irish Whiskey $3,644 1963 Cadenhead (distilled at Jameson’s Bow Street) 27 year old
Japanese Whisky $3,252 1984 Yoichi Single Cask 15 year old Cask #103440
American Whiskey $1,008 1948 Old Overholt Bottled in Bond 7 year old Rye
Canadian Whisky $133 Wiser’s Very Old 18 year old

The question on everyone’s mind is whether The Perfect Collection could be the greatest whisky auction of all time. An online auction outperforming a traditional live auction house, pitting two incredible single-owner $10 million collections against each other, would be a pivotal moment in whisky auction history. When The Perfect Collection at Whisky Auctioneer was announced, Whisky Advocate calculated that if the whole sale achieved an average hammer price of $2,290 per bottle, then this sale would amass a larger sum than The Ultimate Collection at Sotheby’s. After Part One, we can reveal that Whisky Auctioneer managed an average hammer price of $2,216 per bottle, slightly short of the target. In Part One, only 12 bottles failed to meet the reserve, including Macallan in Lalique 50 year old. These are likely to roll over into The Perfect Collection Part Two, meaning we can anticipate a slightly larger sale of around 1,980 bottles. If Whisky Auctioneer can sell every bottle in Part Two, it must achieve an average hammer price of at least $2,363 per bottle to beat the total sum raised in Sotheby’s Ultimate Whisky Collection. Watch this space!

In addition to the 1926 Macallan Fine & Rare 60 year old, Whisky Auctioneer will sell a 1937 Glenfiddich 64 year old, 1937 Balvenie 50 year old, 1963 Bowmore 30th Anniversary, a dozen bottles of Black Bowmore, and numerous other gems. Registration is open and bidding begins on April 10, 2020, and will run for 10 days.

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