On October 3, 2018, someone from Asia paid just over $1.1 million, a record, for a 750-milliliter bottle of single malt whisky described as “the Holy Grail” of the dark alcoholic spirit.
The 60-year-old Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 is “one of the rarest and most desirable bottles ever produced,” according to a specialist at Bonhams, the auction house in Scotland that made the sale.
The whisky was bottled in 1986. Macallan commissioned two world-famous Pop Artists – Valerio Adami and Peter Blake – to design labels for a very limited edition of 24 bottles – 12 of the Adami and 12 of the Blake labels. The bottle is elegantly presented in a specially commissioned cabinet or Tantalus, based on the traditional ‘Brass and Glass’ distillery spirit safe. It was bought by the vendor direct from the Macallan distillery for an undisclosed sum in 1994.
Another bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong in May this year for a world-record breaking price of £814,081 (HK$8,636,250). This is the most ever paid for a bottle of Scotch whisky at public auction. At the same sale, Bonhams also sold a bottle of The Macallan Peter Blake 1926 60 year old for £751,703 (HK$7,962,500).
Although 12 bottles of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 were produced, it is not known how many of them still exist. One is said to have been destroyed in an earthquake in Japan in 2011, and it is believed that at least one of them has been opened and consumed.
Bonhams Whisky specialist in Edinburgh Martin Green commented:” The Macallan 1926 60 year old has been described as the Holy Grail of whisky. Its exceptional rarity and quality puts it in a league of its own, and the world’s most serious whisky collectors will wait patiently for many years for a bottle to come onto the market. It is a great honor to be offering this amazingly rare whisky at our Edinburgh sale.”
The renowned international whisky consultant Charles MacLean, who writes about The Macallan Adami 1926 in the latest edition of Bonhams Magazine, added: “Macallan single malt is the darling of whisky collectors and The Macallan Adami 1926 – with its Peter Blake stablemate – sits at the very pinnacle of the distillery’s distinguished output. All the appeal of Scotch whisky – the myth, the tradition and the romance – find its ultimate expression in this bottle.”
Valerio Adami (born 1935) is an Italian artist famous for painting bold, flat forms outlined in thick, black lines, in a style reminiscent of comic art. He is among the most highly acclaimed of 20th Century Pop Artists.