Diageo and Sotheby’s have recently partnered to put two of the world’s rarest whisky casks up for sale.
Whisky from two of the world’s rarest whisky casks comes directly from the dwindling original “ghost” stocks of the iconic Brora and Port Ellen distilleries, valued at between £700,000 and £1,200,000.
Each of the rarest whisky casks offers the opportunity to collaborate on a commission with an internationally renowned artist, creating unique pieces that reflect the distilleries and their whisky.
The auction, which ran until June 14, is part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations with relevance to British craft and heritage with Sotheby’s. The casks were hand-selected from Diageo’s VIP Casks of Distinction program.
Jonny Fowle, head of whisky at Sotheby’s, said, “This partnership between Sotheby’s and Diageo presents an unrivaled offering of rare whisky casks at auction. In tasting the 1982 Brora, I was struck by its quality, the rich cooked fruit flavors elevating its distinctive slightly peated character. The Port Ellen is a masterclass in 1970s Islay smoke with a significant cask influence, which, especially when it comes from a closed distillery, is precisely the style sought after by the world’s best whisky collectors.”
Located on the western tip of the island of Islay, Port Ellen stands out as a jewel in Diageo’s crown with thousands of miles of ocean and sunlight stretching out in front of it.
A company release states that Port Ellen’s whisky becomes increasingly classy during its closing years, and this cask is one of the most prized casks in existence from Port Ellen’s dwindling stock of ghost casks. After closing its doors in 1983, the current plan is for the distillery to resume making whiskey in 2023.
The 1979 Port Ellen will be auctioned with a unique artifact, crafted after the sale, in collaboration with designer and artist Ini Archibong.
Archibong will create a unique work of art that captures the Port Ellen’s light and spirit in stained glass. The one-of-a-kind sculpture will be a physical expression of “Dram and the Water,” representing both the precious nature of the liquid inside the cask and the distillery’s most precious resource.
Crafted in Murano glass and finished in Islay colors, the sculptural piece will be presented to the cask’s owner at Port Ellen once the distillery has reopened. Archibong will also develop and create a bespoke color gradient that will be used to design a set of labels for the bottles taken from the cask.
Archibong said this artwork will represent the precious nature of the liquid inside the cask from two of the rarest whisky casks in the world.
Located in the Highlands on the northeast coast of Scotland, Brora became famous for the quality and character of the whisky maturing in its closed cellars. The Brora distillery, now 202 years old, reawakened in May 2021 after a three-year restoration.
Although the distillery has reopened, there is a finite amount of whiskey remaining from before its closure, with this cask being the oldest existing Brora cask for sale.
The 1982 Brora cask will be offered along with a print by New Zealand photographer Trey Ratcliff. Known for what is described as his mesmerizing photography that captures the beauty of far-flung landscapes, the master photographer will travel to Scotland for the first time, accompanied by the cask’s new owner.
Together they will capture images that bring to life the landscape that helped shape this whisky contained in two of the world’s rarest whisky casks in the world. The photograph selected by the cask owner will be made into a large-format edition print, as well as used to create a set of bespoke labels for the bottles removed from the cask.
The successful bidder of the auction of these rare casks will have the option to work with Diageo’s experts to further age their whisky for up to five years.
The casks were auctioned in collaboration with Sotheby’s as part of its “Jubilee Season” on June 14 in London, sold for £875,000. Diageo will donate five percent of the hammer price of both casks to Care International to support its work in Ukraine.
World’s rarest whisky casks characteristics
Port Ellen 1979 Cask of Distinction:
Distillery: Port Ellen
Cask No: 1145
Filled on: February 15th, 1979
Est. ABV: 52.9%
Est Bottles: 102
Estimated Value: £700,000 to £1,200,000
Brora 1982 Cask of Distinction:
Cask No: 480
Filled on: March 25th, 1982
Est. ABV: 52.8%
Est. Bottles: 145
Estimated Value: £700,000 to £1,200,000
Further information on the sale of the world’s rarest whisky casks can be found at www.sothebys.com/PortEllenBroraCasks
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