Forgotten Macallan Whisky Cask Could Break Auction Records

The owner purchased it over 30 years ago on a whim.

By Rachel Cormack 22/04/2022

It pays to keep tabs on your whisky. Just ask one gent who had all but forgotten a cask of Macallan he bought more than 34 years ago only to learn that it’s now estimated to be worth more than half a million dollars.

The rare 374-litre refill butt, which is currently up for auction on the Whisky Hammer, was originally filled on May 5, 1988, and has been held in bond at the Macallan Distillery in Moray ever since.

The seller, who bought the cask on a whim, had completely forgotten about the Scotch until the Macallan reminded him that it was still maturing in the warehouse.  Originally purchased for a comparatively modest $8800 (£5,000), the cask is expected to reach in excess of approx. $678,000. In fact, the auction house says it’s likely to shatter a record set by a 1991 Macallan that hammered for around $778,000 at Bonhams in 2021.

James Bond travel experience

The Macallan Distillery in Aberlour, Scotland. Courtesy Macallan

The record, in this case, pertains to the per-bottle price. The 30-year-old Macallan cask currently in the top spot achieved a per-bottle price of $3821, according to Bonhams. The cask in this sale, which could yield 534 700 ml bottles, could best that.

“Casks of this age and size are extremely rare, especially from The Macallan,” Daniel Milne, co-founder and managing director of Whisky Hammer, said in a statement. “This is, without doubt, one of the most exciting casks we’ve seen come to auction in recent years, and we expect it to set a new world record by the time the auction closes on Sunday.”

As per the unofficial tasting notes, the single malt in cask number 4180 has notes of salted caramel and orange marmalade on the nose. On the palate, you can expect waves of mature oak and rich spices, while the long finish promises hints of honeycomb and sweet orchard fruits.

The Whisky Hammer’s April auction, which comprises more than 2,000 other lots, will wrap up this Sunday at 7 pm. With four days left on the sale, bids for the coveted 1988 Macallan cask are sitting at $229,000 (£130,000) at the time of this writing.

May this serve as a reminder to check your whisky stock, folks.

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