For collectors of rare whisky, the mention of The Macallan in the same breath as the name Sir Peter Blake has for many decades proved an irresistible combination. Next month, Sotheby’s is set to offer a one-of-a-kind original bottle of 1967 whisky from The Macallan’s newly launched Anecdotes of Ages Collection, a limited-release whisky and art collection created in collaboration with the renowned pop artist.
Estimated at $125,000-750,000, the extraordinary multi-component lot, including a print donated by Sir Peter as well as a bespoke VIP experience with The Macallan, will lead Sotheby’s first dedicated spirits sale in New York on 13 March. All of The Macallan’s proceeds from the sale will benefit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Support from The Macallan will advance efforts underway at the Guggenheim to increase free access and develop engagement with a variety of audiences, in alignment with the museum’s diversity, equity, access, and inclusion initiatives.
The March auction offers collectors the first and only opportunity to acquire this original bottle from the highly anticipated release. Celebrating the legacy and history of Sir Peter Blake and The Macallan, the Anecdotes of Ages Collection comprises 13 unique bottles of exceptional 1967 whisky, selected for its classic yet distinctly colorful character as well as the year’s significance within Blake’s oeuvre. Of this group, the A New Era of Advertising bottle will be auctioned by Sotheby’s, while the 13th original bottle will be kept in The Macallan archive, leaving just 11 original bottles available for purchase. Each bottle in the collection features its own distinctly original collage art on the label inspired by the brand’s legacy and the unique stories detailing its history and community, and the natural landscape of The Macallan Estate.
“In recent years, we have seen significant growth in the enjoyment and collecting of rare whisky around the world, most notably from a new group of younger collectors. So, it is very special that we launch our 2021 season with Sotheby’s first dedicated live spirits sale in New York highlighted by this unique release from The Macallan that will appeal to whisky enthusiasts, art lovers, and philanthropists. We are also delighted that this unique bottle has been donated to The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum with proceeds supporting diverse audience engagement and free access at the Guggenheim Museum. As the spirits market continues to grow, we look forward to engaging an expanding pool of collectors with distinguished offerings, such as standalone bottles direct from The Macallan or private collections, which illustrates the breadth and diversity of the spirits market.”Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, commented: “We are delighted to launch our spring auction season with another partnership between Sotheby’s Wine and The Macallan Distillery. This exclusive bottle from The Macallan’s Anecdotes of Ages series, designed by Sir Peter Blake, represents the age, quality, and creative flare that the world’s leading spirits collectors look for in ultra-rare whiskies. We are also very excited to offer the Bo Johnston collection of over 500 whiskies comprising an unparalleled selection of old Cadenhead dumpy bottlings alongside an array of Scotch whiskies imported into the US in the 1970s and 80s, many of which have never appeared at auction.”
“I am deeply inspired by the incredible legacy of The Macallan, and its emphasis on family, tradition, and the natural world,” said Sir Peter Blake. “Each collage is inspired by The Macallan history and heritage, one that respects time and craft, two essential components of my own creative process. I meticulously worked on each collage, pulling from The Macallan Estate’s rich legacy to complete a collection that is a celebration of art and whisky.”
“This exceptional 1967 whisky was chosen for its classic yet distinctively colorful character, which is reminiscent of Sir Peter Blake’s work of the same year,” said Sarah Burgess, The Macallan Lead Whisky Maker. “With notes of oak and fig leading to a burst of hazelnut and strawberry, this is a truly special whisky that finishes with complex flavors of chocolate and lightly spiced peach. It is in many ways, its own work of art.”
Sir Peter’s design for the A New Era of Advertising bottle (pictured above) celebrates the people in The Macallan’s history who were instrumental in broadening the distilleries reach beyond the local borders on Speyside onto a global stage. In the 1930s, a small stamp began appearing on letters sent by the distillery, bearing the slogan: “Whisky! Open a bottle of MACALLAN to-night”. Many years later, in 1978, the appointment of The Macallan’s first Marketing Director, Hugh Mitcalfe, ushered in a new era of advertising – one that would change the way The Macallan communicated with its consumers.
Through a collection of memorable advertising campaigns, Mitcalfe and his team began building a brand with personality and purpose, generating much interest and excitement. The Macallan’s obsession with quality led to many creative partnerships. This included the introduction of bottle artwork, which featured art director David Holmes’ watercolor of Easter Elchies House – the spiritual home of the brand – and the surrounding countryside, also incorporated into the specially designed label.
Marking the third collaboration between Sir Peter Blake and the celebrated whisky brand, each of the 13 original Anecdotes of Ages bottles are hand-blown with an oak stopper and feature a label signed by Sir Peter, accompanied by a leather-bound book showcasing all 13 label artworks and corresponding stories as well as a certificate of authenticity. For this collection, each bottle of whisky was carefully selected and the labels that Sir Peter created were designed to resonate with Macallan collectors and art enthusiasts alike.
In addition to the special bottle, the successful bidder will also experience a two-day one-night exclusive hosted experience at the Macallan Estate for two people and a 3D collage donated by Sir Peter Blake.
The Anecdotes of Ages Collection also marks the first collaboration between The Macallan and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, prompted by The Macallan’s wish to join forces with the museum as their charity partner. Opening on 17 February, The Macallan Anecdotes of Ages Virtual Art Exhibit will allow lovers of art and whisky from around the world to digitally explore the Anecdotes of Ages Collection.
The exhibit consists of three galleries and provides a 360 virtual environment in which attendees will journey through Sir Peter Blake’s studio and learn about his pioneering, signature pop art and collage style. Visitors will also explore the Anecdotes of Ages gallery, showcasing the inspiration behind each of the artworks created by Sir Peter to tell the story of the 13 bottles, before the world reveal of the bottles with Sir Peter Blake’s handcrafted and original label artwork.
The appearance of the A New Era of Advertising bottle arrives on the heels of Sotheby’s Wine’s tremendous results for spirits in 2020. Spirits totaled $18 million last year, accounting for 20% of Sotheby’s wine and spirits annual auction sales, compared to less than 2% just five years prior. This marked increase in demand was underscored by two top prices in 2020: The Macallan Red Collection, which sold for $977,496 in October, and The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection which achieved $507,819 last March.
In addition, Sotheby’s Wine set the world record for any wine or spirit sold at auction, as well as any private whisky collection, when The Macallan Fine & Rare 60 Year Old achieved $1.9 million during The Ultimate Whisky Collection sale in October 2019.
ADDITIONAL SALE HIGHLIGHTS
The March sale also features The Bo Johnston Collection, a vast ensemble of Single Malt Scotch Whisky accrued in the 1980s by the late South Carolina collector. Many of the US import bottles from Johnston’s collection have never before appeared at auction, presenting collectors with a special opportunity to acquire these seldom seen whiskies. Johnston’s voracious appetite for whisky led him to visit numerous distilleries in Scotland during the 1980s, and the wide range of bottles on offer encapsulates his breadth of knowledge of Scotch Whisky.
Featuring 550 bottles with a combined low estimate of $450,000, the collection is characterized by its extensive selection from Scotland’s most prolific independent bottlers, including 184 Cadenhead’s dumpy bottlings distilled in the 1950s and 1960s, and 197 Gordon & MacPhail bottles largely comprised of 1950s and 1960s vintages from their Connoisseur’s Choice range.
In addition, US import Laphroaigs distinguishes some of the most iconic bottles within this group, with 11 bottles of Laphroaig 10 Julius Wile import, bottled in the late 1970s, 12 bottles of Laphroaig 12 Prime Malt #1, and 2 bottles of the markedly rare Laphroaig 21 Prime Malt #21.
A bottle of The Macallan 50 Year Old Anniversary Malt 1928 rounds out the collection. Originally released at just £50 in 1983, it is one of only 500 bottles produced by the famed distillery. There will be a window for online advance bidding ahead of the live auction on 13 March