Sotheby’s worked directly with The Macallan to recondition and authenticate this bottle, the first time this has ever been done for a 1926. As part of the process The Macallan Master Whisky Maker, undertook a nosing of the whisky.
Kirsteen Campbell commented: “Being involved in the sensory analysis of this incomparable whisky was an incredible privilege.
“The whisky had an incredible depth of character – rich dark fruits, black cherry compote alongside sticky dates, followed by intense sweet antique oak, which is for me a recognisable note of such aged Macallan. Dark chocolate, treacle, ginger… the notes go on and on. It was a very special moment to experience the opening of this iconic 60 Years Old single malt, first bottled 37 years ago, and I hope the new custodian will enjoy the same privilege.”
The reconditioning process involved replacing both the capsule and the cork, applying new glue to the corners of the bottle labels and taking a 1ml liquid sample to test against another 1926 bottle at the Edrington offices in Glasgow. The bottle sold today is now the foundation for all other 1926 bottles that may undergo testing in the future.
Of the 40 bottles drawn in 1986, 14 were decorated with the iconic Fine and Rare labels. Two bottles were released with no labels at all. Of these two, one was hand painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon – when sold in 2018, it became the first bottle of whisky to surpass £1 million.
Of the remaining bottles, in 1986 twelve were labelled by Pop Artist Sir Peter Blake, whose work saw the most notable events from this year in the roaring 20s depicted in black and white sketches and photography. In 1993, a further 12 bottles had their labels designed by Valerio Adami. The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 is now the first bottle in history to exceed £2 million.
The rarity factor contributing to this particular bottle appearing on the market was amplified further in the knowledge that one of the Adami-labelled bottles is thought to have been destroyed during a Japanese earthquake in 2011. It is also believed that at least one of the has been opened and consumed, verified by images taken in Japan. Therefore one can assume that of the 12 Valerio Adami bottles originally created, only 10 remain in existence.
The Italian artist Valerio Adami (born in 1935) was recommended to The Macallan by their Italian agent, Armando Giovinetti. Limiting his palette to black and white for the label, Adami produced a design that has since become iconic in the world of whisky.