Last night (Tuesday December 3), I attended a tasting of Balblair vintages. We tasted five whiskies, 2003, 1997, 1990, 1983 and 1969, prefaced by a glass of Balblair’s base spirit.
London auctioneers Bonhams sold the rare bottle on September 13, against a pre-sale estimate of £5,000 – £7,000
The bottle had been on a cruise liner for many years until a South African bar manager spotted it and bought it. On a cruise in the Mediterranean, he sent it from Grreec to South Afirca for safe keeping.
The Cognac, a ‘Louis XIII de Remy Martin’, is made using a blend of 1,200 eaux de vie, between 40 and 100 years old and is aged in old oak barrels. While all Louis XIII Cognac is bottled in Baccarat crystal decanters, only 800 bottles of Black Pearl have been released and few come onto the open market.
Other rare bottles of Cognac in the sale included two bottles more than 200 years old, which both sold above their pre-sale estimates. A bottle of Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Réserve Marie Domain, from 1806 sold for £3,910 against a pre-sale estimate of £1,800-2,200 and a bottle of 1811 Napoléon Grande Fine Champagne Cognac sold for £2,530 against a pre-sale estimate of £1,000-1,500. Another special bottle, a J & F Martell 260th Anniversary Cognac, sold for £1,840, over three times the pre-sale estimate of £500 – 600.
Another highlight of the selection was a special decanter of Frapin François Rabelais 1er Grand Cru Cognac, which sold for £3,910. The decanter is cased in gilt, to appear like a giant pocket watch, and includes a working time-piece at the centre.