Food & Drinks

The Distillers One of One inaugural auction raises £3.1m


More than £3 million ($4 million) has been raised for charity at The Distillers One of One inaugural auction, which saw 42 exceptional whiskies and experiences go under the hammer.


The sale, which took place at Barnbougle Castle near Edinburgh on 3 December, was organised by the Distillers’ Charity, the philanthropic arm of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, in collaboration with Sotheby’s.


Participants from 24 countries took part in the auction, bidding in person during a lunch in the castle’s Banqueting Hall as well as via the telephone and online. In total, £3.1 million ($4.1 million) was raised during the sale – two and a half times the pre-sale low estimate.


More than £2 million will be granted to charity partners selected by the Youth Action Fund, which was created by the Distillers’ Charity to improve the life chances of 16 to 25-year-olds in Scotland and empower them to make positive change in their communities.


This charitable sale was the first of three that will be held as part of a six-year partnership between the Distillers’ Charity and Sotheby’s.


Jonathan Driver, immediate past master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, said: “We are truly overwhelmed by the amount that has been raised and are so grateful to all of the sponsors, brands and bidders who got involved, donated spectacular lots and showed us incredible support, for making this happen. To know that over £2.5 million will now be distributed to help young people across Scotland through our charity partners is really special.


“The success of our first auction is so exciting and we are thrilled that we can continue to support more people for at least the next six years, thanks to our ongoing partnership with Sotheby’s.

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“This whole event wouldn’t have been possible had companies of all sizes from across the Scotch whisky industry not come together in this amazing collective endeavour. It showcases just how extraordinary the people who work in the world of Scotch whisky are, and we are privileged to have been the catalyst for this landmark sale. We want to extend a huge thanks to everyone involved.”


Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist, said: “Working with the Worshipful Company of Distillers to present the biggest charity auction project in the history of Scotch whisky has been one of the most rewarding projects of my career. This was a truly unique collection of whiskies, for which we can thank the creativity and generosity of the distilleries who willingly came on board. Equally generous were the collectors who participated, driving the overall total beyond expectations. Record prices were achieved for Bowmore, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Ladyburn and Talisker.”


Jamie Ritchie, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “Our global wine and spirits team were delighted to partner with the Worshipful Company of Distillers and their philanthropic arm, the Distillers’ Charity, to create a new series of charity auctions that showcase the best of the Scotch whisky industry and provide important funds to benefit disadvantaged young people in Scotland.

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“The phenomenal outcome of this auction follows the significant success of the recent Hospices de Beaune wine sale, and we look forward to our first auction with the Napa Valley Vintners early in the [new] year.”


Leading the sale was a four-bottle set of Glenfiddich from the 1950s (1955, 1957, 1958 and 1959). An 30-minute bidding battle broke out between eight collectors, driving the final sale price to £1,037,500 / $1,380,760 (est. £220,000-350,000). Provided by William Grant & Sons, this ultra-rare collector’s piece established a new auction record for Glenfiddich.


The second most valuable lot of the sale was the Talisker 1978 Cask of Distinction, which went to a private collector for a record price of £625,000 / $831,780 (est. £350,000-500,000). This 43-year-old cask of still-maturing Talisker single malt Scotch whisky was offered with a cask-end that has been turned into an original work of art by acclaimed Scottish painter Callum Innes.


Several once-in-a-lifetime whisky experiences were included in the auction, including the Gordon & MacPhail One of One Selection Experience from the 1940s or 1950s. The immersive Speyside experience, with the opportunity for the lucky bidder to work alongside the team to create their own whisky, sold for £87,500 / $116,450 (est. £80,000-160,000). 


You can watch a recording of the sale here.

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As well as the support that the auction received through donations, The Distillers One of One auction had the involvement of five sponsors that made the event possible: Blyth & Blyth, engineering design consultants; Simpson’s Malt, makers of high-quality malt; Glencairn Crystal Studio, inventors of the industry’s favourite glass, The Glencairn Glass; J.C. Ribeiro, makers of high-quality cork stoppers; and McLaren Packaging, designers and manufacturers of premium packaging.

6 December 2021 – Bethany Whymark

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