Monday 20 June 2016

Dragon 8 Auctions Fine & Rare "Gamma" Wine / Whisky Auction wrap-up (June 2016)

Dragon 8 Auctions held their second ("Gamma") auction for 2016 last weekend, following their February whisky auction which we covered here. Held again at Grand Hyatt's Pool House, the auction this time included both fine and rare wine and whisky, with each making up around half of the lots.

There are several whisky auctions in Hong Kong and we can't get around to all of them, but Dragon 8's are ones we're always happy to cover. Sure the catering is fantastic (this time around there were Magnums of Champagne, a beautiful old Rioja and a selection of whiskies including The Macallan Rare Cask Black and Highland Park Sigurd, last time there was this 1938 Macallan), but it's more than the catering - Dragon 8's auctions are actually very enjoyable to watch, whether you're buying, selling, or considering either.

Again led by jovial founder Gil Lempert-Schwarz, the auction kicked off with the wine lots (which included some incredible wines, most of which we missed sadly) before moving onto the whisky - with Gil encouraging us to go and grab ourselves a dram and pair it with whatever we wanted from the buffet - "sushi, tomato, dessert, whatever!"

There are no "ordinary" lots at Dragon 8 Auctions, and this one was no exception, with several whiskies over 50 years old, two over 60 years old, several pages of vintage Macallan 18s and a whole section dedicated to The Macallan "Fine & Rare" series. Not to mention Silver Seal indies, a Bowmore Bicentenary 1964, a smattering of Hanyus and Karuizawas and the incredible new Macallan 65yo in Lalique, which we tasted recently.

To save you the suspense on that Macallan 65yo, despite only being released last month and retailing at $280,000HKD / $35,000USD, it sold for a whopping $480,000HKD (almost $62k USD)! One to watch, clearly.

Bidding in general was strong, with all but a few lots selling. Interestingly the Silver Seal indies didn't seem too popular, with a few being passed in, but other indies seemed to fair well, with a 62yo Glenlivet (1952 G&M "Private Collection") selling for $65,000HKD, and a 55yo Macallan (1950 G&M "Speymalt") selling for $26,000HKD (both prices pre-buyer's premium).

Other results included (all prices pre-buyer's premium):

  • 1964 Bowmore Bicentenary - $24,000HKD
  • 1954 Macallan 18yo (OB "Gold Label) - $40,000HKD
  • 1971 Macallan 18yo (OB "Gold Label) - $18,000HKD (sold to Gil himself!)
  • 1937 Macallan Fine & Rare 32yo - $190,000HKD
  • 1948 Macallan Fine & Rare 53yo - $170,000HKD
  • Hanyu Ichiro's Malt "The Joker" (colour) - $14,000HKD
  • Karuizawa 1975 Vintage Single Cask - $32,000HKD
  • Karuizawa 1971 Vintage Single Cask - $42,000HKD

There was clearly a trend for the older (by vintage) whiskies to be more popular, with strong bidding on the older Macallan 18s and Karuizawas (often between two bidders), but not as strong bidding on the younger vintages, with a few of the late-1980s and early 1990s Macallan 18s being passed-in. Still, every Hanyu and Karuizawa sold, either at or (in some cases) well above their estimate, indicating that whilst we might not be seeing the crazy prices of mid 2015, these are still highly sought-after whiskies. 

The auction also served as a prelude to an upcoming collaboration between Dragon 8 Auctions and famous Hong Kong actor Michael Wong - in the forum of a 35yo single cask The Glenlivet. We'll keep you posted about this one (hopefully along with some tasting notes) shortly.

Dragon 8 are firmly establishing themselves in the Hong Kong whisky auction market as the auction house to watch in our opinion, for both the variety and rarity of lots they present, and entertaining way in which they do so. We can't wait to see what future auctions bring.


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