It was an evening of glitz, glamour, polished wood panelled rooms, ermine trimmed robes and a little bit of pomp and ceremony that, as someone put it: “London does well.”
The event, the Worshipful Company of Distillers’ charity auction. A chance for the great and good of the drinks industry to come together and raise some money for some very worthy causes.
The Worshipful Company was founded in 1638 by Royal Charter of Charles I with powers to regulate the distilling trade within 21 miles of the cities of London and Westminster. Today it is a thriving company with more than 300 Liverymen (members). The vast majority are in the spirits or wine trade or in some way connected with the drinks industry.
The stars of the show, more than 70 lots on offer, were nearly all donated by members of the Company or distilling company. For the auction house regular, and the whisky collector, many of these bottling had never seen the light of day before, let alone the bright lights and big city of London. These jewels of the distilling world were almost a match for their surroundings, the beautifully stained glass windowed and oak lined rooms of the Mercers’ Hall in the city.
This was only the second auction the Company has held and it was interesting to watch the prospective bidders circle the lots, displayed in cases, during the drinks reception. The chat in the room centring around quite a few of the lots, indicating it could be a busy night once everyone was gathered into the auction room.
In their opening addresses both the Company Master, and the Lord Mayor of London, asked the gathering to dig deep and bid strongly on the liquid history collected together in the auction catalogue.
The Lord Mayor reminded people of the need for funding the charitable bodies, which had been, and need to continue doing great worth in the City to help particularly young people.
As well as the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and OnSide Youth Zones, the money raised would be going to the Distillers’ Charity, which also helps young people, and the Alcohol Education Trust.
Both speakers praised and thanked the donors of the lots, and of course wished everyone happy and fruitful bidding.
Once ushered into the auction room it was time to start. Under the careful eye of Christies’ experienced auctioneering team, the bidding was brisk on many items, raising a total of £212,000 for the charitable causes.
In the bidding audience there were several notable collectors and people with their eyes on some of the lots, the fiercest battle pushing the Bowmore 1964 up to £25,000 in a matter of moments, before the hammer finally fell on £32,000. There were several tense moments during the evening leading up to the final lot.
Bidding on the Glenfiddich 50 rocketed up to £18,00 and the other big hitter of the evening was The Balvenie Cask 191, which was eventually sold for £30,000.
The final lot had garnered a few interesting whispers pre-auction. The Dalmore, in many of its shapes and sizes, is known for being the star of the auction houses and the room fell silent at the bidding opened at a cool £10,000. A bit of cajoling from the auctioneer and another £5,000 was added swiftly, until the final hammer price was reached at £19,000.
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