Sotheby’s to auction Brora and Port Ellen casksBy Nicola Carruthers
Auctioneer Sotheby’s will offer two ‘ultra-rare’ whisky casks from the Brora and Port Ellen distilleries in a London sale on 14 June.
The casks are among some of the rarest and most valuable casks in existence from the two silent distilleries, and are part of Diageo’s Casks of Distinction programme.
Both sites were mothballed in 1983, however in October 2017, Johnnie Walker owner Diageo pledged a £35 million (US$46m) investment to restart production at Port Ellen and Brora.
Sutherland-based Brora restarted production in May 2021 after a three-year restoration project.
The two casks will be the opening bid during Sotheby’s sale of Scotch whisky in London next month. Advance bidding will open today (31 May).
Diageo will donate 5% of the final hammer price from both casks to Care International to support the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s head of whisky, North America and EMEA, 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.”
Each cask will come with ‘unique artwork’ printed on each of the bottles the cask yields.
All distilleries from Diageo’s Scotch portfolio are eligible for the Casks of Distinction programme. However, on very rare occasions, a cask taken from the diminishing stock of casks of Brora and Port Ellen is also included.
The successful bidders will have the option to further age their casks for up to five years before they are bottled. Furthermore, the casks’ new owners will be able to invite up to three guests to join them for a Diageo Rare and Exceptional experience.
The sale of the casks is part of Sotheby’s month-long programme of exhibitions and events to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee from 18 May to 15 June.