Forgotten whisky cask sets £1m auction record

Despite being bought 34 years ago for £5,000, a rare cask of whisky has sold for a record-breaking £1m at auction.

The owner had forgotten The Macallan 1988 cask had been maturing in a warehouse until the distillery had reminded them. On Sunday, a private US buyer won the online auction, which attracted bids worldwide.

It broke the previous auction record for a cask, set at £444,000 in 2019. Held in bond at The Macallan distillery, the 374-litre refill butt was filled on 5th May 1988.

The hammer price at specialist auction site Whisky Hammer was £915,500 with the winning bidder paying £1,007,050 including buyers premium.

Daniel Milne, Whisky Hammer managing director, said: “When this cask was listed in our auction, we knew it had the potential to make history. 

“To come across a cask of this age, quality and size is extraordinary in itself, enhanced by the fact the liquid was distilled at The Macallan, which is reflected in the global attention the cask has attracted.”

The cask could provide 534 70cl bottles of the single malt. This “per bottle'” price of £1,907 from a cask also sets a new record.

The Macallan has produced some of the world’s most valuable whiskies. The previous £444,000 auction record, held by Bonhams, was also for a cask of The Macallan. It was set in November 2019 for the sale of a 30-year-old reracked sherry hogshead, which contained 261 bottles. 

Last October a 1991 cask from the distillery fetched £1.69m at auction, in a unique sale which included an NFT digital artwork by artist Trevor Jones.

In February, The Macallan released a batch of whisky dating back to World War Two. It set a price tag of £92,000 per decanter of its single malt The Reach.

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