The private Scotch sale was at least eight-times pricier than the existing auction record.
CREDIT: COURTESY OF ARDBERG
But today, Ardbeg has announced a sale that appears to blow these previous cask records out of the water: The Islay-based Scotch brand has sold a cask, known as Cask No. 3, for £16 million — or about $19 million — at least eight times higher than any previous claim.
Now, Ardbeg’s sale comes with some important caveats. The brand says it was a private sale to an anonymous collector brokered through the Moet Hennessy Private Client and prestige sales teams. Private sales don’t have to be disclosed — or have their price scrutinized on the open market like auctions — which makes claiming this record trickier. Still, $19 million is a massive number in Scotch sales.
“Based on publicly available figures for sales at auction, we believe this is a record for the sale of an individual cask of single malt,” a spokesperson for Ardbeg told me. “It’s certainly the most expensive we have ever sold and — while we don’t have access to information on private sales by competitors all — the publicly available information suggests it is a category record.”
So what makes this Ardbeg cask worth 14 times more than the Macallan cask sold back in April? As is often the case, scarcity is important, and this 1975 cask survived a very turbulent time in Ardbeg’s history. Established in 1815, Ardbeg was one of many distilleries that struggled to stay afloat during Scotch’s lean years in the 1970s and ’80s. The brand sold most of its stock for blending in the ’70s and then closed for the first time in 1981. It reopened later that decade before shuttering again in 1996. Finally, in 1997, Glenmorangie purchased the distillery and nursed it back to its current health.