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Here Are The Whiskies To Watch At Sotheby's First Singapore Whisky Auction: 1st December 2023

Sotheby's inaugural whisky auction in Singapore comprises of rare Japanese whiskies and a variety of equally coveted old Scotch releases, and would be closing at SGT 2pm on 1st December 2023.


Just as it commemorates its 50th Anniversary in Asia and launched its new Shanghai and Seoul premises, Sotheby’s is set to host one of its most significant online auctions in Singapore this Friday, 1st December 2023 – namely its inaugural Singapore auction for fine and rare whiskies.

We recently had the opportunity to attend the physical showroom in Singapore and meet with Sotheby's team led by auction specialist Freeman Ho, Sotheby's Asia's Deputy Director of Spirits. Freeman shared with us some interesting insights into the world of collectible whiskies, and interesting details about each of the unique bottlings that would be going under the hammer.



The highlight of the preview was, of course, getting a firsthand look at the bottlings on auction. The auction lineup is like a whisky collector’s dream penned into reality, comprising of some of the most iconic rare Japanese whiskies alongside a large variety of equally famous old Scotch releases.



Now, let's take a peek at what's on the block, shall we?

Full Set of The Legendary Karuizawa

(All auction images are courtesy of Sotheby's.)


The most talked-about part of the show is none other than the complete set of 36 Views of Mount Fuji setfrom the legendary Karuizawa Distillery.

Karuizawa was a Japanese distillery located at the foot of Mount Asama in Karuizawa, and although the distillery was shut down over twenty years ago, its whiskies subsequently gained legendary status amongst enthusiasts and collectors, rivalling the fame of even Scotland’s most iconic ghost distilleries.


(Source: Dekanta)


The "36 Views of Mount Fuji" set is inspired by the famous series of woodblock prints by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. Each of the 36 bottles in the Karuizawa set features a different label with one of these iconic images, making the collection not only valuable for its rare liquid but also as a collector’s item. The set was bottled by Taiwan Hwa-Wei Liquor Import and was released over different periods of time. Having them presented together also makes this lot that much more impressive.

There’s also the equally alluring Karuizawa Geisha sets bottled by the leading UK whisky retailer, The Whisky Exchange. These bottles are adorned with striking illustrations of geishas, each label a canvas displaying vibrant, colourful costumes. The series is renowned not only for its aesthetic appeal but the rarity of the whisky - often fetching high prices at auctions and among collectors.

Yamazaki' Exclusive Owners Cask and Single Cask Bottlings


We can’t not mention Yamazaki and Suntory on the topic of Japanese whisky. The auction also comprises of several beautiful single cask Yamazaki bottlings in the 1980s and 1990s that represent the pinnacle of Yamazaki Distillery’s craftsmanship.

In contrast to the standard Yamazaki releases which are consistent blends from multiple casks, these 'Owners Cask' and ‘The Cask of’ Yamazaki expressions offer unique flavour profiles a singular tasting journeys. They may also showcase a focus on cask types, such as American oak, sherry oak or Mizunara (Japanese oak), allowing for a broad spectrum of distinct flavours that are much more distinct from the more consistent profiles of standard Yamazaki releases.

Of course, these bottlings are also incredibly limited in quantity by now, making each a highly coveted collector’s item.

Full Vertical Vintages of Macallan


No whisky auction would be complete without a look at some old and rare Scotch bottlings. We turn to the full vertical vintages of Macallan’s whiskies from 1946 to 1986 on showcase.

While the modern core range of Macallan whiskies may bear age statements, they are no longer labelled with a specific vintage year (i.e. the year of distillation). In contrast, these old Macallan bottlings are labelled with their vintage years, and offer an interesting glimpse back into the 40s’ when whiskies aged above 15 to 20 were less popular, and Macallan’s oldest releases were only 15 years old.


Classics from Bowmore, Laphroaig and Springbank


Continuing with rare classics from Scotland, the auction showcases a legendary Bowmore Black from the 1960s’, particularly renowned for its rich, deep character, often exhibiting a beautiful balance of smokiness with elegant notes of dark fruit, chocolate, and a hint of coastal brine. Then there’s the Bowmore Bicentenary 1964, released to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bowmore Distillery in 1979 – a bottling celebrated for its complexity, citrus, honey and touch of Islay peat.


You can’t go wrong with old Laphroaigs either. Amongst a series of old Scotches we also have an original bottling Laphroaig 1974, 31 Years Old Sherry Cask that has been praised for its freshness and extraordinary balance of light peatiness with the rich, sweet influences of sherry cask aging.


Another highlight of the auction is the Springbank 50 Year Old ‘Pear Shaped’ bottles . Distilled way back in the 1920s and bottled in the 1970s, these are some of the oldest and most revered Springbank whiskies. The discontinued 'Pear Shaped' bottling is a distinctive feature that adds to its collectible appeal.

Independent Bottlers: Samaroli, Corti Brothers, and More

Rounding off the lineup are gems from independent bottlers. We've got old Samaroli bottlings of Ardbeg, Bowmore, Springbank and Laphroaig. There’s also a range from the Corti Brothers with the standout being the Clynelish 1965, 21 Year Old, that has garnered an unprecedented 98-point score from whisky critic Whiskyfun.

As Sotheby's Singapore Whisky Auction unfolds this Friday, 1 st December 2023, it promises to be a celebration of Sotheby's longstanding presence in Asia and a testament to the soaring interest in whisky in Singapore and Southeast Asia. If you’re a collector or an enthusiast, this event is a rare opportunity to witness and own a part of the legacy of great names in Japanese and Scotch whisky history.



George Lacey, Sotheby's Asia's Head of Wine shared, “We are excited to bring our very first whisky auction in Southeast Asia to Singapore. This remarkable sale, much anticipated by whisky enthusiasts in the region, will feature a variety of the finest and rarest bottles from Scotland and Japan, from big name distilleries to highly regarded independent bottlers. We hope to provide a platform that bridges the vibrant Southeast Asia collecting communities with this exceptional offering.” 

Visit official auction page on Sotheby's here.


88 Bamboo Editorial Team