The first bottle of the Lagavulin 1991 single cask release that brought the bicentenary celebrations to a close on 31 December 2016 was sold this week at auction for £7,300. This sought-after bottle went under the hammer online at Whisky.Auction and achieved almost five times the starting price of £1,494 (the original RRSP for the Limited Edition). Diageo donated its full proceeds from the auction of this single bottle and Whisky.Auction the buyer’s commission, raising a total of £8,395 for Islay Heritage.
Steve Mithen, Trustee of Islay Heritage and Professor of Archaeology, commented: “We are thrilled with this boost to our fundraising thanks to the generosity of Diageo, Lagavulin Distillery, Whisky.Auction and, of course, the buyer of bottle number one.
We will put the donation to good use on Islay, enabling people to experience its rich and diverse history.”
In a bespoke, leather bound notebook made to accompany bottle 1/522, Lagavulin distillery manager Georgie Crawford wrote: “Our distillery character shines in this whisky and, as distillery manager and an Ileach, I am proud and grateful that the auction of this bottle is helping Islay Heritage to tell the story of this remarkable island we call home.”
Georgie’s tasting notes were accompanied by handwritten notes from four expert whisky writers: Dave Broom, Ian Buxton, Colin Hampden-White and Charlie MacLean.
Master of the Quaich Charlie MacLean, in his characteristic green ink, opened with: “My immediate comment on first tasting was ‘Best Ever’.” He added, “A cross between a dowager duchess and a salty sea-dog!”.
Ian Buxton, author of 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die, chose to pen a letter to the buyer with his thoughts on the release: “…we have here a new planet to explore – for this may just be the tastiest Lagavulin ever… a fully-matured spirit of exceptional quality and distinction…”. He signed off with “Drink, as you must; share, as you should, with pleasure and pride in the knowledge that all our knowledge of Islay will grow as a result of your benevolence and generosity! Slàinte Mhath!”.
The successful bidder will also be able to read thoughts on their Lagavulin 1991 from Dave Broom and Whisky Quarterly editor Colin Hampden-White.
Isabel Graham-Yooll, Auction & Private Client Director for Whisky.Auction, said: “Lagavulin 1991 was one of the star lots in our February auction. The combination of this acclaimed single cask Lagavulin Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, highly collectible bottle number one, one-off tasting sample and notebook with the handwritten tasting notes of whisky luminaries drew much interest and a wonderful result for Islay Heritage.”
The auction follows the sell out of this 522 bottle Lagavulin 1991 release through a ballot run by The Whisky Exchange, sister company to Whisky.Auction, which attracted over 7,000 entries from 74 countries.
Diageo is donating its proceeds from these sales of Lagavulin 1991 (over £0.5m) to seven causes on Islay to promote the island and its communities.