The Distillers’ Charity: One of One Scotch Whisky Auction 2023

by Matt Chambers
at Whisky for Everyone

Every two years, the great and the good of the Scotch whisky industry come together to raise money for charity. Each company donates an old, rare, or prestigious whisky (or all three in most cases) that gets auctioned off with the help of Sotherby’s, the famous auction house.

The list often reads like a highlights reel for rare Scotch whisky. All proceeds go to The Distillers’ Charity, which helps young people across Scotland in several different ways.

The inaugural event in 2021 raised £2.4 million. This year’s auction takes place at Hopetoun House in Edinburgh on 5 October. Here are five of the best bottles available:

1. Bowmore – STAC

This bottling from the iconic Islay distillery is the oldest ever Bowmore release by owners Beam Suntory. The Bowmore STAC is expected to be one of the highlight whiskies at the auction this year with an estimated selling price of between £300,000 and £500,000.

It was distilled and filled to a single re-fill American oak ex-bourbon hogshead in 1962 and has been maturing in Bowmore’s legendary No.1 Vaults for over five decades.

Bowmore STAC is bottled at 55 years of age and is housed in an extraordinary and striking vessel. This angular structure is inspired by ancient sea stacks located close to Bowmore’s Islay home. The bottom is made of black glass with the top clear crystal.

The whisky is said to ‘showcase over half a century of skilled maturation techniques’ and will be one of the biggest single lots on show.

2. Brora – Iris

This oldest ever expression of Brora has been donated by Diageo, the owners of the legendary distillery which has recently been reawakened after 40 years of inactivity. Brora Iris is also the first ever 50-year-old to be released and is taken from dwindling stock that remains from before production ceased in 1983.

The rare spirit was distilled and filled to cask in 1972 and selected by Dr. Craig Wilson, the Diageo Master Blender.

For the Distillers’ Charity auction, the whisky is presented in a bespoke decanter and sculpture. The 1.5 litre decanter suspended within the limestone sculpture was created by Scottish based artist Michelle de Bruin. It is designed to represent the eye of a Scottish wildcat – the area around Brora is one of their last strongholds and the cat forms the distillery’s logo.

The decanter also features a bronze wildcat stopper created by leading wildlife sculptor Jonathan Knight.

The Brora Iris is expected to sell for between £250,000 and £500,000.

3. Glenglassaugh – Coalescence of the Coast

This one-off bottle from the coastal Highland distillery of Glenglassaugh has been donated by owners Brown-Forman. It is the oldest ever bottling to be released and has been crafted by Dr. Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender for Glenglassaugh. It represents how decades of maturation next to the sea can influence a whisky.

The Coalescence of the Coast is bottled at 55 years of age and is one of the oldest whiskies at this year’s auction.

Barrie has selected whisky from three casks – these were filled in 1963, 1965, and 1967. They represent some of the oldest stock left maturing at Glenglassaugh. These were then skillfully married together before being filled to a handblown crystal bottle.

This is housed in a hand carved and finished wooden box adorned with serpentine marble from the same North Sea coast where the distillery is located.

The Glenglassaugh Coalescence of the Coast is expected to sell for around £50,000.

4. Glen Grant – The Visionary

This is the oldest bottle at The Distillers’ Charity One of One auction. The Visionary has been created by Dennis Malcolm, the legendary Master Distiller of Glen Grant who boasts over six decades of working at the Speyside distillery. It is bottled at 68 years old.

The release celebrates the legacy of distillery forefather James ‘The Major’ Grant and his commitment to innovation and exploration. It has been donated by owners Gruppo Campari.

The whisky has been maturing within Glen Grant’s warehouses in its hometown of Rothes since 1955. It has been housed in a single ex-sherry cask ever since.

The Visionary is presented in a handblown magnum decanter inspired by vessels that James Grant used to house plant and fruit tree cuttings when on his travels around the world.

The whisky is expected to sell for between £70,000 and £90,000.

5. Old Pulteney – Bow Wave

Inverhouse Distillers have donated this gem from their Old Pulteney distillery in the far north of the Highlands. The Bow Wave is a 45-year-old single malt that has spent four decades maturing in American oak ex-bourbon casks before a final five-year secondary maturation in a single re-fill Spanish oak ex-sherry butt.

The name is inspired by the wave that forms as the bow of a ship moves through the sea and is a hat tip to the distillery’s coastal location.

The packaging was conceptualised and produced in Scotland. A deep blue handblown crystal decanter holds the liquid, which is sealed by a hidden anchor-shaped stopper. Silverware surrounds the bottle to represent crashing waves. Everything is set in a slate plinth sourced from Old Pulteney’s home in Caithness. The purchaser will also receive a 10ml tasting sample of the whisky.

Old Pulteney Bow Wave is expected to fetch around £30,000.

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