As the largest private collection of whisky to ever go under the hammer goes online, Rosalind Erskine speaks to the owner of Whisky Auctioneer, the Perthshire company behind the auction The Perfect Collection of Whisky

It's one of the largest collections of whisky to go under the hammer, and is exciting whisky enthusiasts and collectors from all over the world.

Lot one of the huge collection, created by the former president of ­Pepsi Bottling Co. and Colorado resident Richard Gooding, was put up for sale at the start of February.

Mr Richard Gooding

Mr Gooding's passion lay in Scotland, where he would often take trips to distilleries and buy cases of whisky, travelling regularly to islands and the mainland with his pilot in search of special bottles.

By value and volume, his ­collection – which had its own dedicated room in his home known as ‘the pub’ – is the most significant to ever go on public sale, which is why it has been described as The Perfect ­Collection.

The extemely rare Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami.

Speaking of the extensive collection of whisky, Iain McClune, founder of the online auction site selling the collection, said: “The key thing about The Perfect Collection is that its scale in terms of the value and the volume is hugely ­significant. Every time I look at it I see a different bottle that I hadn’t noticed the last time.

“There are certain bottles like the Dallas Dhu or the Old Orkney from Stromness that are very rare items, which haven’t been auctioned in decades and they’re very exciting to see. Also this is the largest collection of The Macallan ever to go to auction, including the 1926 Valerio Adami and 1926 Fine & Rare 60 Year Old bottlings.”

Nancy Gooding, wife of the late Mr Gooding , recalls her husband’s enthusiasm for seeking out the very best drams.

"There are certain bottles like the Dallas Dhu or the Old Orkney from Stromness that are very rare items, which haven’t been auctioned in decades and they’re very exciting to see. "
Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctioneer

“It was clear to us as a family that collecting Scotch was one of Richard’s greatest passions – an endeavour that spanned more than two decades. He loved every aspect of it – from researching the many single malt distilleries to visiting them and tasting their whiskies.

Stars of The Perfect Collection

“He was always so pleased to acquire the bottles that he was searching for over the years – his mission was to collect a bottle that represented every single distillery, but his favourite was always ­Bowmore, with his preferred ­whisky being Black Bowmore.

“Richard truly loved and was proud of his collection and enjoyed sharing it with friends and fellow Scotch lovers in his ‘pub’ at home.”

Whisky experts have been keen to give their opinon on the collection, including Becky Paskin, former editor of

“It’s incredibly rare that a complete whisky collection of this size and value comes to ­auction at once, but it is the sheer diversity and comprehensiveness of Mr ­Gooding’s collection that makes it so intriguing," she says.

“He was a perfectly eclectic and passionate collector, often flying around the world to source ­elusive whiskies, and while there are a number of high profile bottles like the 1926 Macallans and Black Bowmores, he also amassed a treasure of enchanting gems from such a wide range of distilleries, including many that are long lost.

“As a whole, the collection provides a fascinating insight into one man’s ambition and dedication to one of his great loves.”

Macallan artwork The rare Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami and today's Archival Series.

The sheer diversity of the bottles is what caught the attention of most whisky experts, as well as the value.

Whisky writer and consultant Angus MacRaild, who was brought in to consult on the project of selling the collection added: “What I love about Mr Gooding’s collection, beyond its immediately impressive value, is its sheer breadth and diversity of bottles.

“You can tell it was put together by someone who loved whisky and loved to drink it. So many of the ­bottles in this collection are special because they represent such ­outstanding quality – from ­wonderful independent rarities, to ancient bottlings of ­legendary ­single malts from before the Second World War, to some classic official bottlings.”

Sold! Introducing Whisky Auctioneer

Consisting of more than 3,900 bottles of primarily single malt Scotch, the Perfect Collection will be sold by Perthshire online whisky ­auction specialists Whisky Auctioneer from Friday 7 February.

Experts predict that some ­bottles – such as the Macallan 1926 Fine & Rare 60 Year Old – will break records thanks to their coveted and rare status. Distilleries in the ­collection range from The Macallan to Bowmore and Springbank, and some bottles are individually valued at more than £1million.

Speaking of his company, founder of Whisky Auctioneer Iain McClune says: “The Whisky Auctioneer was really founded out of my desire to be involved in an era of whisky making that was becoming harder and harder to be a part of - my love of whisky was making me move in the direction of liquid history,”

"We wanted to focus on the collection as a whole as a legacy that exists around Mr Gooding."
Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctionerr

"I wanted to be a part of whisky that was, at the time, becoming harder and harder to to find - and it was from that that the opportunity for the auction company emerged, so we set up business in 2013. We went for it and since then The Whisky Auctioneer has really taken off and has become the largest leading specialist auctioneers in the country, in the world really.

"We wanted to position ourselves very much at the front of online whisky auctions, by promoting our auctions, making them accessible and user friendly, and trying to reach as many people. And I think that's why auctions in general, and specifically online specialist auctions like ours, have grown so much and become global business, which wasn't there before."

Iain McClune with some of the rare bottles in the Perfect Collection.

So how did a Perthshire based company end up selling what's thought to be the most extensive private collection of whisky - the life's work of a man from Colorado?

"We were asked to meet the client by a contact of ours, Johnny - who was valuing the collection - and we went through a process of meetings and talking to the client and they really liked what we do," says Iain.

"They liked our focus and attention, especially the fact that we wanted to focus on the collection as a whole as a legacy that exists around Mr Gooding, and not just on the big names such as the Macallan 1926 - although these are important."

The impact of online selling

"The growth of whisky auctions over the last seven years as we've existed has been driven by online businesses. We're a leading online auctioneer and there are many bottles that go through online auctions - we've sold over 250,000 lots,” Iain explains.

Balvenie then and now How the Balvenie has changed from the 1937 50 year old to today's 12 year old doublewood.

"The significant of online selling really is that that's now where the industry is. Historically there was a marketplace for collectable bottles through traditional bricks and mortar auction houses but the industry has really moved on from that now.

"Bottles are being brought to online auctions because the prices are better, commissions tend to be more competitive and the opportunity is greater."

The rise of the secondary whisky market

This surge in online auctions wouldn't be possible without the growth and interest in the secondary market, which has seen rapid expansion in the last few years.

"I think the growth in the secondary market has taken place for a few reasons," says Iain. "The demand from whiskies has grown across the industry, not just on the secondary market - the global reach of whisky has changed.

"Secondly, specialist auctions like ours are key to growth because we provide a service that nobody did beforehand. This service is truly global because we ship to over 65 countries worldwide.

"The nature of online auctions means that they're not just for exclusive clientele, we produce whiskies for drinking, collecting and investing - from £15 to millions of pounds. So auctions are really available for anybody to take part in. And they've just been growing in the last decade alongside the growth in the whisky industry."

The Macallan Distillery The Macallan then and now How the Macallan distillery has changed from fairly normal looking to multimillion pound 'cathedral of light'.

One of the whiskies that always seems to grab the secondary market’s attention are Macallans. As Iain explains: "Macallan is a big part of selling, investing and the secondary whisky market. But there is now scope for people to look further afield.

"One of the things we are dealing with more often, and with The Perfect Collection, are closed and lost distilleries where bottlings from there are irreplaceable. That has its own fanbase, for want of a better word.

“Vintages have changed now, where whiskies are no longer aged from the bottle, they tend to be harder to find as they're not as durable as modern day bottlings. Vintage bottlings are more sought after and valuable, so there are lots of different angles. The secondary market isn't just Macallan, there are lots of distilleries in Scotland with sought-after whiskies, although Macallan does have its place.

"One of the things we are dealing with more often, and with The Perfect Collection, are closed and lost distilleries where bottlings from there are irreplaceable. "
Iain McClune, founder of Whisky Auctioneer

"In the case of the Perfect Collection, the value is significantly in favour of Macallan because of those two bottles (the Macallan 1926 Fine & Rare 60 Year Old)."

For anyone who thinks they have an old or rare bottle, Iain's advice is simple: "Ask an auctioneer how much it is worth, depending on what you have it for. If you're ever curious about what a bottle is worth then just contact us, it's quite normal for us to do valuations and provide advice."

The Perfect Collection, which consists of more than 3,900 bottles of primarily single malt Scotch, is going to auction in two lots via the Whisky Auctioneer site from 7-17 February and 10-20 April.

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