How does a $200,000 bottle of whiskey sound? Old? Well, the fact that a world-renowned broker of antiques and fine art is handling the sale tells us everything we need to know. Sotheby’s is preparing to auction off a 250 bottle lot of Glenlivet single malt Scotch from an oak barrel casked in 1940.
Cask 340, as the 80-year-old barrel has come to be known, has seen some history. It’s been maintained by whiskey distributor Gordon & Macphail since the onset of World War II. In fact, the company made history when it finally uncorked the early 20th-century oak cask. According to Penta, Gordon & MacPhail bottled the liquid gold in February 2020. Once a Scotch is bottled, however, it is no longer considered to be aging. But the 80-year status of Cask 340 makes it “the oldest single malt Scotch whisky ever bottled,” per a statement.
The 250 bottles are set for auction in Hong Kong on October 7th. They feature a custom design by internationally recognized architect Sir David Adjaye. The collaboration was intentional, however. Ewen Mackintosh, the managing director of Gordon & MacPhail, compared architecture to the craft of Scotch maturation.
“Maturing a single malt Scotch over eight decades is an art, similar in many ways to architecture, where you are creating something that needs to stand the test of time. Both Sir David and Gordon & MacPhail share a commitment to invest in the future. We both see the significance of creating something exceptional; leaving a legacy for future generations,” Mackintosh said in a statement.
Per MSN, the lot’s first bottle, which is referred to as Decanter #1, is expected to fetch up to $200,000 at auction.
The Proceeds from Cask 340 Sotheby’s Auction Will Go to Charity
The art of Scotch making goes back centuries. It has lasted through the turmoil of the modern world. Accordingly, the Glenlivet Scotch from 1940 benefits from being a product of its time.
Cask 340 is old. So old that it was one of the barrels made during government-enforced rationing of malt due to World War II. According to Penta, however, 1940 had only one-third of normal Scotch production. This scarcity adds even further to the lot’s value. A good thing, considering the proceeds will go to a charity called Trees of Life. The organization aims to restore the forests of the Scottish highlands.
“Joining forces with Gordon & MacPhail to auction the first 80-year-old whisky is a very special moment for us. It is an incredible feat to have matured a whisky in oak for 80 years. And appropriate that it is a Glenlivet cask from Scotland’s first licensed distillery. As such, it feels only fitting that two companies with such long histories are collaborating to present the world’s oldest whisky,” said Sotheby’s spirit specialist Johnny Fowle.