Value of single malt Scotch sold at auction rises by 94%

The price of single malt Scotch whisky sold at auction has soared by nearly 100% in the first six months of the year, according to Rare Whisky 101, continuing an upward trend for the category.

David Robertson and Andy Simpson

Whisky analysts and brokers Rare Whisky 101’s 2017 Half Year Report shows that both the volume and value of rare Scotch whisky sold at auction has increased by record amounts over the past six months, with the growth described as “unprecedented”.

The value of collectable bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold at auction in the UK rose by 93.66% to an all-time half-year high of £11.176m, compared with £5.771m the previous year. The number of bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold at auction in the UK increased by 47.25% to 39,061, compared with 26,527 bottles in the first half of 2016.

This growth was also reflected in the rising average selling price per bottle, which rose to a new record of £286.13, up from £217.56 for the first half of 2016.

The positive growth means that the secondary whisky market has “never been stronger”, according to whisky investment analyst and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, Andy Simpson, who predicts that the value of Scotch sold at auction in the UK would break £20 million this year for the first time ever.

“At a brand level, individual producers are continually pushing the prices of their premium aged stock. Couple this primary market price inflation with increased global demand and declining stocks of discontinued bottles, and we still look to be in the ‘perfect storm’ for the right bottles to continue to appreciating in value.”

“Of course, as with any investment asset experiencing such a run, it all could come to an end. But right now, the right bottles of Scotch seem to be in ever increasing demand. With so little significantly aged stock still maturing in the cask, it’s unlikely we’ll see prices easing for rarities in the short to medium term.”

The most expensive bottle of Scotch sold during the first half of this year was 50-year-old Macallan in Lalique, which was sold for £65,210 (up from its previous best of £17,000 in 2015).

Currently, bottles of The Macallan dominate the secondary whisky market, accounting for almost £300 out of every £1,000 spent at auction in the UK. The brand now has a 12.71% volume share of all bottles sold and a 28.90% share of the value, up from 10.26% and 21.85% respectively at the end of 2016.

Meanwhile a bottle of Japanese Karuizawa 1960 whisky sold for £100,100 in April 2017, setting a new UK and European record price for a bottle of whisky. The bottle was sold as part of a collection of 296 bottles, which sold for £770,000 (US$985,000), smashing its pre-sale estimate of £500,000 (US$610,000).

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