A Case with No Bottle
A Case with No Bottle
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The cases for the Macallan 1926 60 Year Olds needed to be the pinnacle of luxury if Macallan were to market the 1926 as one of the world’s most sought-after bottlings. (even if they were never made publically available for sale).
The cases were designed by David Holmes of Holmes Ritchie & Knight, who held the reigns, along with Nick Salaman, of Macallan’s marketing throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Holmes commissioned the Royal School of Arts in London to create the cases.
The cases are a form of tantalus, which is a lockable stand or case traditionally used to store alcoholic beverages such as whisky. The secure nature of the tantalus mitigated the risk of the wrong person accessing the alcohol whilst also displaying the bottles in an opulent way.
The cabinets were most popular during the 19th century amongst the higher classes. The head of the household would hold the key to the tantalus and would therefore be responsible for allowing access.
During this time, the tantalus was also a status symbol, with a larger or more ornate tantalus being an emblem of wealth. It seems fitting then, that a tantalus would hold some of the most sought-after and expensive whisky in the world.
How the owner found the Case
The empty Macallan case found its way to the South Coast of England where, in 2015 or 2016, a chance visit to eBay by a Macallan enthusiast thrust the case back into the spotlight. The buyer was certain, convinced, that the case had once housed the fabled Macallan 1926 60 Year Old Valerio Adami, due to the bronze plaque on the bottom of the case. So, he bought it.
The buyer took the case to Macallan for independent verification in 2018. Margaret Gray from the Macallan distillery helped with the verification. Sure enough, the case was genuine, and was compared to the case of a Macallan 1926 60 Year Old Peter Blake. They were identical.
The buyer took the case back home and used it to hold a Macallan 1954 Fine & Rare that he had in his collection.
After a while, the buyer began to wonder what to do with the case. It just so happened that Antiques Roadshow - the long-running British TV programme - was set to film at Brodie Castle, nearby to the buyer’s home. And so, the case was taken to Brodie Castle, nestled in the north of Speyside, to be independently valued by the show’s experts.
Whilst the initial valuation was underwhelming, the owner was not deterred. He knew that the case would be worth much more to whisky enthusiasts and connoisseurs who knew about the significance of the 1926. After all, the inclusion or exclusion of the box can hugely affect the value of a bottle on the secondary market, by around 15-30% on average. Perhaps there was a chance of finding the missing bottle?
And so the owner of the case, a Mr Fraser, contacted Mark Littler Limited for a valuation on the 1926 60 Year Old case, knowing that whisky experts would have a vastly different view on the significance of the case than was held by the antiques experts on Antiques Road Show.
Correspondance with Mark Littler
“This is an incredibly difficult item to value. However, bottles of rare single malt whisky missing their box regularly sell for between 15-30% less than those with their original box. The £138,600 figure is based on 15% of the last bottle of 1926 Valerio Adami that sold (£924,000).
I understand that the valuation of the case might raise eyebrows, and it's important to highlight the distinct nature of rare whisky collecting. The £138,000 price tag, though undeniably expensive for a case, reflects the rarity and desirability of the Macallan 1926 60 year old. For the individual who possesses the corresponding Macallan bottle, missing its original case, this box is not just packaging—it's a vital piece of the whisky's legacy, rendering it priceless. In this unique market, such elements are key in preserving both the monetary and sentimental value of these rare treasures.”
It is undeniable that the sale of empty bottles and loose labels are fuelling the market for counterfeit bottles of whisky.
Indeed, we have spoken at length about this on our blog and YouTube channel.
Some might say that we are now being hypocritical by selling an empty case that was designed to hold the world’s most expensive bottle of whisky.
However, we feel that the sale of this case is completely different to selling on empty bottles and loose labels.
This is not just a case for a bottle of whisky. It is a case for THE Macallan 1926 60 Year Old - the bottle that holds the title of being the worlds most expensive at over £1.45 million.
Consequently, every bottle of 1926 60 year old Macallan that comes to market undergoes intense scrutiny.
Sotheby’s have recently upped the ante in terms of pre-sale authentication prior to the upcoming sale of a bottle of 1926 Macallan. They have collaborated with Macallan to draw a 1ml liquid sample to test against another 1926 bottle at the Edrington offices in Glasgow.
As a result Sothebys’ have set this level of authentication (i.e. authenticating the liquid and not only the bottle and label) as “the foundation for all other 1926 bottles that may undergo testing in the future.”
Going forwards, no self respecting plutocrat looking to purchase a 1926 Macallan is going to settle for any less than this newly established ‘best practice’ measure of authentication.
Buying this case in the hope that its legitimacy might ease along the sale of a counterfeit bottle of 1926 would be utterly pointless. There is no escaping the fact that the liquid will be tested by Macallan themselves.
These rigorous measures arguably make the Macallan 1926 60 year old the most secure and scrutinized bottle on the market.
Located in Scotland’s Speyside region in close proximity to the river Spey, Macallan was first licenced to Alexander Reid in 1824 as the Elchies distillery. In 1868, James Stuart
acquired the Elchies lease and rebuilt the distillery. James Stuart sold Elchies in 1892, to Roderick Kemp who recognised Elchies’ potential modernising the site and increasing malt production, alongside renaming the distillery as Macallan-Glenlivet (although the Glenlivet suffix would be dropped in 1980). Following Kemp’s death in 1909, the Roderick Kemp Trust was established to secure the family’s future ownership of Macallan, although the Trust was reformed as a private limited company in 1966.
The Kemp family’s ownership of Macallan ended after a takeover in 1996, with Edrington became Macallan’s major stakeholder in 1999, alongside minority shareholders William Grant & Sons and Suntory.
Since 1984, Macallan has opted to focus on the growing single malt market, when the first official Macallan single malt bottling, an 18-Year-Old expression matured in ex-sherry casks was launched. Edrington has continued to promote Macallan’s growth as a single malt
brand, establishing the distillery’s commitment to using ex-sherry casks for maturation as Macallan’s unique selling point. Alongside the core single malt range, Macallan regularly releases a variety of vintage expressions, luxury bottlings and limited editions including the
Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old Vintage attracting attention from whisky enthusiasts, collectors
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