Port Ellen 12-year-old breaks auction record

4th September, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers

A bottle of 12-year-old Port Ellen Scotch whisky, thought to be the only official bottling released when the distillery was active, has sold for a record-breaking £50,000 (US$64,137) at auction.

Port Ellen 12 Year Old Queen’s Visit 1980 has sold for £50,000

The Port Ellen 12 Year Old Queen’s Visit 1980 went under the hammer in an online auction held by Whisky Auctioneer. The auction ran from 24 August and closed yesterday (3 September).

The expression was created to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the island on 9 August 1980.

The number of bottles produced is unknown, but it is believed that the Queen and all senior staff present were given a bottle each. Around 40 bottles are estimated to have been produced.

The Port Ellen distillery in Islay was mothballed in 1983, and has since gained cult status among malts fans.

The bottle attracted interest from around the world, particularly from Europe and Asia, with over 50 bids being lodged and the eventual winner hailing from Hong Kong.

According to Rare Whisky 101, the highest previous record for the bottle was for £12,100 (US$15,520) in 2016. The expression last made an appearance at an auction in January 2017, when it sold for £11,200 (US$14,365).

During the same auction, a 50-year-old Macallan – one of only 200 – sold for a record-breaking £56,000 (US$71,828). The previous record for the bottle was in April 2018 when it sold for £32,525 (US$41,718).

Sean McGlone, director at Whisky Auctioneer, said: “Port Ellen has been a ‘lost distillery’ since 1983 and its near mythical status has grown each year since then – an opportunity to acquire a bottle from this distillery is rare, but this Port Ellen Queen’s Visit is the only known official bottling while the distillery was active.

“Only a select handful of people received this bottle in honour of the Queen visiting in 1980 so from a collectability point of view, this is essentially unsurpassed. But to also have such a highly regarded spirit in terms of taste means this is truly an iconic whisky for collectors and connoisseurs alike.”

In October last year, Diageo pledged a £35 million (US$46m) investment to restart production at closed distilleries Port Ellen and Brora by 2020.

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