World’s most expensive whisky: £2.1m bottle of Macallan Adami 1926 sold at auction

A bottle of Macallan Adami 1926, a single malt Scotch whiskey with legendary status, has set a new world auction record, sold for a staggering $2.7 million (£2.1 million) at Sotheby’s in London – making it the most expensive wine or spirit ever sold at auction.

The sale is a testament to the whisky’s rich history, unrivaled quality and appeal in the collectors’ market.

Historical context:

The Macallan Adami 1926 is part of an exceptionally rare collection of whiskeys. Only 40 bottles were produced in 1986, each aged for 60 years in dark oak sherry casks. This long maturation process, combined with exceptional craftsmanship, has contributed to the extraordinary quality and rarity of the whisky.

Bottle similar to one recently auctioned recovered £1.5 million in a 2019 sale.

Labeling and artistry:

An important feature of these bottles is their unique labeling. Twelve of the 40 bottles, including the record one, were adorned with labels designed by the famous Italian painter Valério Adami in 1993. This artistic collaboration adds a dimension of cultural and artistic value to the bottles.

Auction details:

The bottle sold at auction stood out not only for its contents but also for its condition. This was the first bottle to be repackaged by The Macallan distillery, a process which involved replacing the capsule and cork of the bottle and applying new glue to the corners of the label, ensuring that the bottle was in perfect condition for its new owner.

Flavor Profile:

Jonny Fowle, head of whiskey at Sotheby’s, told the AFP news agency: “It’s very rich, it has a lot of dried fruit as you would expect, a lot of spices, a lot of wood.”

“This is not a whiskey to be taken lightly. It’s a rich, rich, but incredible drama,” Fowle added.

Kirsteen Campbell, Macallan’s master whiskey maker, was quoted by ABC News as describing the whiskey as having a rich and complex flavor profile, with notes of dark fruits, black cherry compote, sticky dates and sweet and intense antique oak. Additional nuances of dark chocolate, molasses and ginger were noted, highlighting the depth and complexity of the whisky.

“Dark chocolate, molasses, ginger…the notes go on and on,” she says. “It was a very special moment to experience the opening of this iconic 60-year-old single malt, first bottled 37 years ago, and I hope the new custodian will enjoy the same privilege.

Market impact:

The sale of The Macallan Adami 1926 marks a momentous event in the whiskey industry, reflecting the growing interest and investment in rare and aged spirits. It sets a benchmark for future auctions and further strengthens The Macallan’s reputation in the world of fine spirits.


The record sale of the Macallan Adami 1926 is much more than just an auction; it represents the culmination of decades of craftsmanship, a testament to the enduring appeal of fine whiskey and a celebration of the rich heritage that The Macallan embodies. This sale will undoubtedly be remembered as a landmark moment in the history of whiskey collecting.

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