In a display case at The Whisky Exchange’s London Whisky Show, one of the city’s top whisky festivals, whisky fans and collectors are ogling some of the world’s rarest and most valuable bottles of whisky available. These include a 50 year old whisky from the closed Japanese distillery of Karuizawa, a 50 year old Glenlivet from a single cask, and a rare bottle of Caroni rum from Trinidad.
However, they are not for sale, or available to try at the festival. It is a preview of a special auction that will take place in late November on auction website www.whisky.auction. It is expected to raise over £200,000.
This collection stands out not only for its rarity; the proceeds generated by the auction will be donated to non-profit Plastic Oceans to fight against global plastic pollution. The cash will be directed to its awareness initiatives, with a goal of reaching a billion people by 2020. It will develop films and other content that will target school children, policy awareness, and consumer behaviour – all with the goal of educating, inspiring, and fostering change to shift the global economy out of reliance on plastic.
Whisky.auction director Isabel Graham-Yooll is fully aware the bottles on offer represent a truly special opportunity for collectors to get ahold of unique bottles that are rarely, if ever, found. “Every now and then an auction line-up comes along that has spirits collectors and connoisseurs on the edge of their seats with excitement. This is one of those auctions. These bottles are not merely rare, some of them are entirely unique; they have never been seen before and may never be seen again.”
Here’s some of the highlights:
The Balvenie 1973 Vintage Cask. A limited edition single malt Scotch whisky, bottled from a single cask from a single vintage. There only exists one bottle of this in the entire world.
Karuizawa 50 Year Old. Bottles from the now-closed Japanese distillery of Karuizawa are highly sought after. This specific 50-year old release only has two bottles, so this is a juicy chance to own half of it.
O.F.C 1990. One of 63 bottles and the first to ever arrive in the UK. Donated by Buffalo Trace Distillery owner Sazerac.
Glenlivet 1948, 50 Year Old. An independent bottling from family operation Gordon & MacPhail.
The Dalmore, Rare 45 Year Old. Matured in a freshly-emptied, first-fill bourbon barrel. Bottled at a natural cask strength of 40.2%.
As the whisky industry has recently faced backlash over the waste generated by its packaging, the effort represents a useful step in how whiksy auction sites can use their growing market power to perhaps raise greater awareness about packaging waste.
Certainly, the auction winners can raise a glass of the rarest whisky toasting their role in helping solve a problem that goes far beyond the whisky industry.
If you feel like getting in on the action, the auction will open on 18 November and close on 27 November.