Rare Bottle of Scotch Whisky Sells for Record-Breaking $2.7 Million

Made in 1926, the whisky aged in sherry casks for 60 years before being bottled in 1986

Man wearing white gloves posing with a bottle of whisky
Jonny Fowle, global head of whisky at Sotheby's, tasted a tiny drop of the rare Scotch whisky and described it as "very rich." Sotheby's

A rare bottle of Scotch whisky sold for a record-breaking £2.2 million ($2.7 million) at auction over the weekend.

The Macallan Adami 1926 spent 60 years aging in sherry casks before being bottled in 1986. Only 40 bottles were made.

The price exceeded the pre-auction estimate of £750,000 ($937,000) to £1.2 million ($1.5 million). It also beat the previous record for the most expensive wine or spirit sold at auction, which was set in 2019 when another bottle of the Macallan 1926 sold for £1.5 million ($1.9 million). Other recent records include the world’s largest bottle of whisky, an 82-gallon bottle that sold for $1.4 million last year, according to Forbes’ Ty Roush.

The World's Most Valuable Whisky: The Macallan Adami 1926

Before the sale, the distillery’s staffers carefully reconditioned the bottle by replacing the cork and re-adhering the corners of the label. During this process, they got a whiff of the whisky inside and thought it smelled like “rich dark fruits, black cherry compote alongside sticky dates, followed by intense sweet antique oak,” Kirsteen Campbell, Macallan’s master whisky maker, tells the Associated Press.

“It was a very special moment to experience the opening [of the bottle] … and I hope the new custodian will enjoy the same privilege,” she added.

Jonny Fowle, global head of whisky at Sotheby’s, tasted a tiny drop. He tells the Agence France-Presse (AFP) it was “not a whisky to take lightly.”

“It’s very rich, it’s got a lot of dried fruit as you would expect, a lot of spice, a lot of wood,” he adds.

Bottle of Scotch whisky
The bottle is one of just 40 ever produced. Sotheby's

When the bottles were released in 1986, they were offered only to the distillery’s top clients, though they were not made available to the public for purchase.

The 40 bottles come in a “variety of custom labels,” reports Insider’s Hannah Getahun. Twelve of the bottles, including the one that sold over the weekend, feature labels created by Italian painter Valerio Adami. Another one of the bottles with the Adami labels is believed to have been destroyed during an earthquake in Japan in 2011. Two bottles were released with no labels (including one that was hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon), 14 have “Fine and Rare” labels and 12 have labels designed by British pop artist Peter Blake.

At least one of the 40 total bottles has been consumed, according to Sotheby’s.

“[The Macallan 1926] is the one whisky that every auctioneer wants to sell and every collector wants to own,” said Fowle ahead of the auction, per BBC News’ Francesca Gillett.

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