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The World’s Rarest Whiskies Head to Auction

The Distillers' One of One auction will take place on October 5 in Edinburgh.

By Alex Martin

The Distillers’ One of One auction will take place this week (October 5) and is shaping up to be one of the most spectacular spirits auctions of all time.

The charitable event was first launched in 2021 with a remarkable auction totaling $4.1m, over two-and-a-half times higher than the combined low estimates.

This year’s event looks set to push that total with spectacular expressions from Bowmore and Brora potentially generating $1m between them if their high estimates are realized.

Brora was the first to reveal its donation with a 50-year-old whisky named Iris. The liquid has been taken from Brora’s fabled 1972 stocks, renowned for producing some of its greatest whisky and highly prized by collectors as a result.

[See also: The Most Expensive Whisky Ever Sold at Auction]

Brora iris
The Brora Iris decanter is suspended in a limestone sculpture / ©Brora

The one-off whisky is presented in a magnum-sized 1.5l decanter suspended in a handcrafted sculpture carved from the same limestone that was used to build the distillery. Brora reopened in 2021 following a multi-million-dollar renovation.

In the 38 years between closing and reopening, its whiskies have become increasingly sought-after due to their high quality and rarity. That is why the whisky is expected to sell for anywhere between £200k-£400k ($243k-$486k) when it goes under the hammer on October 5, 2023.

The winning bidder will also be invited to explore the reawakened distillery with five guests and be guided by distillery host Andrew Flatt through an exquisite tasting experience.

Bowmore followed suit by releasing its oldest expression called STAC. The 55-year-old whisky is also the oldest whisky ever to come out of the distillery and is presented in a striking magnum-sized decanter. Unsurprisingly, it has a significant top-end estimate as well.

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Bowmore STAC
The Bowmore STAC represents the sea stacks of Islay / ©Bowmore

The decanter has been designed to represent the sea stacks of Islay, the island home of Bowmore and eight other operational distilleries. It’s not immediately clear how the liquid would be poured, but the eventual buyer is more likely to treasure this as a work of art, rather than a casual digestif.

The STAC follows on from Bowmore’s original donation to Distillers’ One of One, the Onyx, which sold for an impressive £400k (circa $500k) in the 2021 auction.

While not as revered as Bowmore or Brora, Old Pulteney has caused a splash with its striking Bow Wave, a 45-year-old, one-off whisky (estimate £20k – £30k / $26k – $39k). The whisky is presented in a decanter inspired by the way the bow of a ship cuts through the water.

The cork is hidden within the glass sculpture and can only be accessed with an anchor key. The winner also receives a 10ml sample, so they can taste what’s inside while still keeping the decanter as a collectible.

Speaking to organizers, the Bow Wave has repeatedly been touted as the one to watch with experts saying it is most likely to beat its high estimate.

Old Pulteney Bow Wave
The Bow Wave from Old Pulteney / ©Rich Maciver
whisky advent calendar
Christmas at Hazelwood, an advent calendar with a full bottle on Christmas Day / ©House of Hazelwood

Not all lots are single bottles, however. The House of Hazelwood has donated a novel Christmas advent calendar containing 24 miniature samples of every whisky it has released to date. For Christmas Day, the winning bidder will find a full bottle of a one-off 51 Year Old matured in a sherry cask.

For those with a penchant for personalization, the Last Drop Distillers is offering the chance to make your own hyper-aged single malt whisky with the help of an industry legend. The winner will join master blender Colin Scott and draw whisky from Last Drop’s stocks to create a whisky attuned to their tastes. The winner receives 12 engraved bottles with a personal label design.

Glenturret, a distillery we visited earlier this year, will present a four-bottle collection for auction. The Enduring Spirit collection highlights significant moments in the distillery’s 260-year history. The four bottles will contain their own unique whisky created by the legendary Bob Dalgarno.

Glen Grant whisky
The Glen Grant, The Visonary 68 Year Old / ©Glent Grant

Other whiskies released to date include a one-off edition of Royal Salute’s The Coronation of King Charles III Edition release, a 55 Year Old from Glenglassaugh and a 68 Year Old from Glen Grant.

The auction will be held with the help of Sotheby’s on October 5, 2023 at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh. Online bidding is live here for more information

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