On Saturday, Dec. 8, NYWinesChristie's conducted New York's first auction of fine and rare spirits, thanks to new legislation allowing the practice, passed in Albany last August. A crowd larger than what's normally seen at wine auctions attended the sale in anticipation of its outcome. All told, 100 lots of Whiskies, Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados and Chartreuse went on the block, fetching $304,800 (inclusive of the 20 percent buyer's premium)—well in excess of presale estimates.
The auction got off to a tentative start, however, with a small selection of early 19th century Cognac. Several pristine lots failed to sell, but the highlight was a 729-bottle "library" of single malts, vatted and blended whiskies from diverse distilleries that seemed a perfect fit for a restaurant or luxury resort. Instead, it went to a private New York buyer for $102,000 (near the top end of the high estimate).
The offering of an exceedingly rare bottle of 1926 The Macallan Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky whetted everyone's interest. Produced in 1926, it spent 60 years in wood and was bottled in 1986. After spirited competition from the salesroom floor, the bottle went to an anonymous telephone bidder for $54,000 (against an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000), making it the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold by Christie's anywhere.
Other highlights were a bottle of E. Piercel de Saint Jacques Cognac Napoléon Grande Fine Champagne 1802, which sold above estimate, for $2,280, and a bottle of Cognac Très Vieille Champagne Réserve #5 "Louis Philippe" A.E. Dor 1840 that soared above its $300 to $500 estimate to bring in $1,920. A selection of Armagnac from Marquis de Montdidier, Château de Cahuzac was also sold above the high estimate.
Richard Brierley, head of wine sales for Christie's Americas, said, "The selection for some of the finest spirits sourced from some of the best collections in America fetched a very satisfying total, illustrating the potential for spirits sales here in New York City."
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