A collection of Scotch whisky described as the most valuable to be offered at auction is expected to sell for around £4 million.
Sotheby’s is selling The Ultimate Whisky Collection, the auction house’s first offering of spirits from a single owner, comprising 394 lots, 467 bottles and nine casks.
The company claims it is the most comprehensive collection of Scotch whisky to come to the market from a private seller – a wine collector who turned to Scotland’s national drink.
The man spent his youth in the UK but now lives in America and built his collection with the help of US-based whisky specialist Jonathan Read.
Whiskies from Bowmore, Highland Park and The Macallan distilleries became his focus and among the bottles up for auction is the one said to be considered the holy grail of whisky – an original label 60-year-old The Macallan 1926 from cask number 263.
The cask produced only 40 bottles and this one is estimated to sell for between £350,000 and £450,000.
The man behind the collection, who has not been named, said: “Collecting whisky over these past 20 years has been a real passion of mine, though it was not something I set out to do.
“I have always loved drinking whisky – as family and friends will attest, to this day I can be found most evenings with a cigar in one hand and a glass in the other – but I was a wine collector first.
“I then found myself looking at unique bottles of Scotch, initially attracted by the beauty of the labels.”
He added: “So I started this collection and realised that if I really spent time on it and was selective in my choices, I might be able to put together something significant and unique.
“Two decades on, I think the collection is at that point where it is indeed unique.
“Having cherished these bottles, I am now ready to share them with collectors around the world.
“I hope they find good homes in the hands of whisky lovers who will enjoy the experience as much as I did, both the drinking of them and the sense of history that each of these bottles brings.”
Online bidding on the collection will open on September 27, culminating in a live auction on October 24 at the Olympia in West Kensington, London, alongside RM Sotheby’s sale of collectable motor cars.
Jamie Ritchie, chairman of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “It is an honour to launch spirits as a new category for Sotheby’s Wine and to present the world’s largest and most important single-owner spirits sale.
“These bottles and casks come from an American connoisseur who built an incredible collection of rare scotch whisky over the last 20 years.
“This groundbreaking sale reminds me of the first wine sales that Sotheby’s held in New York in 1994 and Hong Kong in 2009, and we believe it will come to be viewed as a similarly historic moment in the spirits market.”