Diageo and Sotheby’s have announced the opening of a sale of two of the rarest and most valuable casks of Single Malt Scotch Whisky in existence, sourced directly from the dwindling original ‘ghost’ stocks of the iconic distilleries Brora and Port Ellen. Each cask comes with the opportunity to collaborate on a commission with an internationally acclaimed artist, creating one-off pieces that reflect the distilleries and their whisky. Offered as part of the celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee Season due to their relevance to British craft and heritage with Sotheby’s, the auction runs until the 14th June 2022.
The casks have been hand-picked from Diageo’s prestigious VIP programme Casks of Distinction. This offers exclusive access to purchase individual casks of rare and exceptional Single Malt Scotch Whisky from Diageo’s unrivalled stocks, with only a very small number of fully mature casks selected each year from the choice of millions of resting in Scotland and an even tinier number selected from the fabled Brora and Port Ellen distilleries.
Jonny Fowle, Head of Whisky at Sotheby’s said, “This partnership between Sotheby’s’ and Diageo showcases an unrivalled offering of rare whisky casks at auction. On trying the 1982 Brora I was astounded by its quality – the rich cooked fruit flavours elevating its signature lightly peated character. The Port Ellen is a masterclass in 1970s Islay smoke with significant cask influence, which, especially when from a closed distillery, is precisely the style that the world’s top whisky collectors seek out.”
Located on the western edge of the Isle of Islay, or the “Queen of the Hebrides”, Port Ellen is a priceless jewel in Diageo’s crown; glistening and glittering, with thousands of miles of ocean and sunlight stretching out in front of it every day. Gaining legendary status during its closed years, this cask is the most precious cask in existence from Port Ellen’s dwindling stocks of ghost casks. With its door shuttered in 1983, the current plan is for the distillery to start making whisky again in 2023.
The Port Ellen 1979 will be auctioned with a one-off artefact, crafted following the sale, in collaboration with the designer and artist Ini Archibong. Ini Archibong will create a unique piece of art capturing the light of Port Ellen and its spirit in coloured glass. The one-off sculpture will be a physical expression of the “Dram and the Water” – representing both the precious nature of the liquid inside the cask and the distillery’s most precious resource. Crafted from Murano Glass and finished in the colours of Islay, the unique sculptural piece will be presented to the cask owner in Port Ellen once the distillery has reopened. Ini will also develop and create a bespoke colour gradient that will be used to design a set of labels for the bottles drawn from the cask.
Nestled in the Highlands on the North East coast of Scotland, Brora became renowned for the exceptional quality and character of whisky maturing in its shuttered warehouses. Now 202 years old, Brora distillery was reawakened in May 2021 following a meticulous three-year restoration. Whilst the distillery has reopened, there is limited whisky that remains from before its closure, with this cask being the oldest in existence for sale from Brora.
The Brora 1982 cask will be offered alongside a stunning print by New Zealand based photographer Trey Ratcliff. Renowned for his mesmerising photography capturing the beauty of distant landscapes, the master photographer will travel to Scotland for the very first time, accompanied by the new cask owner. Together they will capture images that bring to life the landscape that helped shape this whisky. The cask owner’s selected photograph will become a large format edition print, as well as being used to create a set of bespoke labels for the bottles to be drawn from the cask.
James Mackay, Head of Rare and Exceptional Spirits at Diageo said “With the help of two highly accomplished contemporary artists, we are thrilled to offer these casks for sale by Sotheby’s as true works of art”
The successful bidder of the auction for these ultra-rare casks will have the option to work together with Diageo’s experts to further age their Scotch for up to five years. It’s a unique opportunity to play a role in the final part of these two unprecedented whiskies’ stories.
The casks are being auctioned in partnership with Sotheby’s as part of the ‘Jubilee Season’ due to their relevance to British craft and heritage on Tuesday 14th June 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Diageo will donate 5% of the hammer price from both casks to Care International to support their work in Ukraine.
For more information on the sale please visit: www.sothebys.com/PortEllenBroraCasks
SEE ALSO: The Lure of Lost Distilleries