Letting Go #16: Home in time,…

After three weeks and a day on the road, I’m home in time to watch the auction play out on the big screen. It’s a very exciting time for me. I’ve never sold a bottle of whisky before, and never had much money in my life. Things are a changin’. For a reminder of what I submitted to the July/August auction, see HERE

At just past 23:00, surely the auction will be ending any minute? Surely my Karuizawa’s can’t go any higher, can they? Cask #8894 is the 24th highest lot of 6000. Appearing to have stuck at £9200, incredibly, another late bid ups the total to £9600 in the final minutes – for one bottle of whisky!! What a return on a £375 purchase. Thankyou Whisky Exchange. Is it perhaps a record for that particular bottle?

Looking through, alphabetically-ish, I’m thoroughly pleased with my 2018 Feis Ile single cask 13yo Ardbeg achieving £975. Thanks to Tex who talked me into buying a bottle for £250, which at the time, seemed insane. In hindsight, I should have talked the Foz into buying one too.

Given my vintage 1969 Balblair from G&M reached £440, less thrilling is the G&M 1966 vintage going for ‘just’ £350, especially when you consider what an official 25yo is currently going for rrp – £499!! The official 1966 38yo Balblair made £751, so a great result there, though great old whisky too. Aside from cask #1350, all the single cask Balblair’s performed exceedingly well. With thanks to The Gathering Place for those exclusives – a sorely missed club.

From a lowly bid of £225, my 1930s Bellows blended scotch [WLP86] jumped a further £500 on the last morning, making a bid of £725 unrivalled thereafter. I’m chuffed to bits given I paid £550 for 2 bottles – one to drink, one to keep – a huge and gratuitous expense at the time. No need for a reserve on that one!

The Highlander Inn single cask #5711 1987 Benriach did well to reach £360 as did a 30yo Bladnoch. Someone once offered to buy that Benriach, as it was the only whisky he could find that was distilled [or bottled, I don’t remember which], on his daughters exact birth date. Having no idea what it would be worth at the time, he offered any bottle in his collection as a swap, including a Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix. I really like the Snow Phoenix, but had a hunch that this Benriach was also something special. I may never know now. Money-wise, in December 2020, Snow Phoenix’s were going for £360-70, so no love [money] lost there.

In general, I thought my Bunnahabhain’s did well. Not stellar, but ok. One could argue the official 1963 Bunnahabhain did well to reach £550, given WF:86. Still, given the price of young Bimber/Daftmill/Chichibu/Chita,…. a 1963 Bunna!!

Staggeringly, an official 12yo Chita reached £276, and there I was thinking I might have overpaid at £71, in July 2015.

And what of my lovely Carsebridge’s, pfft, and my 1972 43yo single cask Invergordon? £170, bah! I wish I’d kept that one back. Furthermore, if a 1974 41yo Garnheath or a 1965 45yo Girvan can’t make a fair/decent price in this whisky-crazed environment, perhaps these old grains [some from closed distilleries] will never achieve as high a return as retailers are now asking? The take-away there is, look out for old grain bargains at auction, not retailers [for now].

I was happy with £550 for the 5x20cl Classic Islay Collection, which included the 7th release Port Ellen [WLP91]. An incredible £625 was realised for my 1984 SMWS Clynelish [WF93] – fabulous! A year earlier, a bottle went for ‘just’ £395. In more breathtaking news, Compass Box’s ‘The General’ reached a wowing £1251. I’d paid just £180! Dumbfounding stuff. Lovely lovely whisky that.

I saw my money back [minus fees] on a Glenesk/Hillside, and only pocket money for the 11yo/26yo Cadenhead Cooley [WLP89] and a 2008 Daftmill. Perhaps the price [or interest] in Daftmill has peaked/plateaued? I lost a little on a 1920s Chateau Lafitte Cognac [correct spelling, yep]. Perhaps I should have opened it, or not bought it in the first place. That was an unknown gamble for me.

The 1975 Rare Malts Glen Albyn and a low-level 1936 Glen Grant from G&M exceeded expectations at £601 and £1056 respectively. I remember thinking I’d paid the top-of-the-market price for the Glen Albyn at £260. I was happy to drink it if so, falling for it after an unforgettable day at Drummuir Castle [WLP].

I also made a healthy return on both Glen M[h]or’s, proving this distillery is well revered by those in the know.

All three single cask Glendronach’s [1992, 1993 & 1994 vintages], effortlessly found healthy prices, especially in comparison to their perceived yet still buoyant value/rrp in 2013/14.

An official Highland Park 30yo for £576, you’re welcome, and the 13-14yo Hanyu [WLP88] I paid £200 for at TWE? – a whopping £1700. My buddha!

Imperial’s remain a closed distillery bargain for buyers at auction, but didn’t the 35yo 1975 Inchgower do well, achieving £430. Bespoke stuff.

To say I’m more than happy with the result of the Karuizawa Golden Samurai would be an understatement. Thanks to those who persuaded me to part with an initial investment of £2000 in December 2015. They were anxious years however [unlike the Karuizawa cask #8897 Karuizawa, previously mentioned]. As for the SMWS 132.2 Karuizawa, I remember seeing one appear at HTFW for £2500 in 2015. Having paid £280 for one at SWA in the same year, it’s taken the auction houses more than five years to reach HTFW’s ‘rrp’, and here we are. As for both Karuizawa Asama’s reaching around £1000 each is unbelievable given their original rrp’s and the modest juice inside.

£200 for a SMWS 129.6 Kilchoman more than justified spending a whole midge-ridden morning trying to get through to the SMWS whilst on a hill between Bunna and Ardnahoe [see pic below].

Whilst fans help promote the value of Kilchoman, it would seem Lagavulin’s do not generate much of a return on the secondary market. Indeed, they appear flipper-immune, despite a 92 point-score from Serge [WF] for the 15th release which I see is still available for thereabouts standard rrp in shops. As for my two Laphroaig’s, Cask Strength Batch 2 performed great [£315], Batch 6, just ok [£111].

I never expected the Rare Malt 1972 22yo Linkwood to do so well [£410]. The other Linkwood’s such as the 24yo from Adelphi – so so. My only submitted Littlemill did just fine and I’m certainly happy with £625 for the 1965 Lochside. Still, that’s one ‘ell of an old-old single blend.

£352 for a 1995 18yo Macallan? Be my guest. I doubled my money on a 1982 SMWS 72.27 Miltonduff, but £205 is still a great price for a super whisky. There IS value to be found amongst the old & rare’s.

The performance of my personally-valued North of Scotland’s was so so. The secondary market isn’t going to see my 1964 Caledonian from Scott’s, that’s for sure.

The 36yo Oishii [WB] made £1090 in 2017, so a closing bid of £440 was far less than hoped. Still, considering an initial purchase price of £150,… I wonder how many people thought it was japanese whisky when first released? The Ootori also fell short of my expectations, given it frequently achieves around the £400 mark and contains Karuizawa and Kawasaki. Still, Serge [and others] gave it 79 points [or thereabouts], so perhaps £270 for a whisky of moderate calibre,…..

All my [highly-prized] Port Ellen’s performed buoyantly. Going for £520, my return on the single cask #1516 Port Ellen from Dun Bheagan was a nice surprise, as was the Wilson & Morgan at £1251 [exactly the same amount as CB’s The General] – great whisky that [WF93]. Thanks, I think, to Whisky Antique who deliberately sent me a bottle from this cask instead of the one I’d asked & paid for.

I saw a little loss on the Karuizawa Club, a Whiskybroker Speyside Distillery 15yo and a 27yo Strathclyde, also from Whiskybroker – all as expected. The 2004 14yo Springbank festival bottling, also as expected, did come up trumps.

St Magdalene saw a nominal profit of £30. I thought that would have been a better investment. I was however, pleased with £1050 for a 1965 Strathisla – fair enough. It was a good call deciding to forgo a half-hearted idea of a spring break to buy it in the first place.

My 1980 25yo Talisker performed well, the Teaninch’s and a First Cask #7351 1976 Tomintoul, ok. On the other side of the pond, my Thomas H Handy [WLP#1] saw a fabulous return of £480 as did the 10yo Old Rip Van Winkle that followed suit at £440. Great young whiskeys, but again, be my guest. Both Waterford’s – my first ever flip! – saw minimal returns. Waterford’s whisky has not enjoyed the secondary market frenzy as juice from other new distillery’s have.

And finally, the Yamazaki Sherry Cask I bought from Drinksfinder in December 2013 for £93 after trying it at a gig one night, was the large cherry on a big fat cake, going for a ridiculous £4300.

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Given the ‘winding down’ period started at 19:30, exhaustingly, the auction eventually finishes at 23:36. Before fees, my lots have achieved a ‘kerching’ of £58,714. That’s some reward for letting go!

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You may imagine that I grabbed one very large and special celebratory dram after that, but since that bottle of red in Harris [WLP#15], I stayed completely ‘dry’ for the next five weeks, enjoying whisky and some wine just three times in seven weeks. I’m not expecting my sobriety last – I miss that amber nectar – but until then, I feel great. I sleep better, my energy levels are buoyant, my skin and hair is vibrant, my eye-sight is sharper, I’m not experiencing wild emotional ups & downs, sciatic aches & pains have vanished,…. You don’t give up alcohol, you gain well-being in abundance.

WHAT NOW?

In light of my inability/reluctance to tolerate/persist with the new WordPress Block Editor since returning home, as well as the time and effort it costs, I’m strongly considering hanging up/letting go of this blog. I’ll probably change my mind once I get my head around the new WordPress changes, but pondering this option is all part of the letting go programme I’m now very much committed to. Looking back on this now on the 2nd January 2021, I cannot say I’m any more enamoured with the Block Editor as I was six months ago – still enduring lost content and corrupted scripts [no, the revisions option still doesn’t work, pictures won’t align] – but I’ve still plenty of whisky journeying to share, however. Furthermore, I’ve still over 120 full bottles of whisky and 1500 miniatures, so a second auction consignment is planned for 2021. For now, watch this space. Letting Go, part #17 will be along shortly.

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END

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