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Private whisky collections worth £75m identified

The cumulative value of whisky held in private hands the world over is estimated to be £75 million, according to research carried out by Rare Whisky 101 (RW101) in partnership with Whisky Auctioneer, with demand for fine whiskies at auction continuing to grow.

Iain McClune, founder and owner of Whisky Auctioneer, with the collection of 296 Karuizawa whisky bottles which sold for £770,000 earlier this year. Credit: Fraser Band

As well as uncovering the estimated values of individual collections which totalled some £74.5m and 326,000 bottles, a survey of 1,542 rare whisky connoisseurs, collectors and investors from across the world revealed that whisky lovers are each spending, on average, more than £10,000 every year on rare whisky. A small proportion (1%) are spending more than £100,000 per annum on their treasure hunting.

On average, each collection is worth a total of £50,000, made up of more than 200 bottles with an average bottle value of £228, while one in ten of those surveyed admitted to being in possession of collections valued at over £100,000. The Macallan comes out on top as the most popular brand for acquisition, closely followed by Ardbeg, Highland Park and Springbank.

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 (H1 2016 £5.771m) this year, while the number of bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold at auction in the UK increased by 47.25% to 39,061 (H1 2016 26,527).

Whisky Auctioneer, Perth.
Image 026: Bottle of Karuzaiwa 1960 which sold for £100,100 earlier this year. Credit: Fraser Band

“Since Whisky Auctioneer was founded back in 2013 we have seen a trend of record breaking values, and this is being reflected in the valuations which people are placing on their collections,” said Sean McGlone, director of Whisky Auctioneer. “I suspect that this may just be the tip of the iceberg as I’m sure there are plenty of amazing malts hiding in people’s collections around the world. The upwards trend of the average bottle price is very encouraging to see as it shows effectiveness of whisky collecting for financial return. We have built and grown Whisky Auctioneer out of our love of whisky and we take great pleasure in seeing the continued growth of our most loved passion.”

The value of rare Scotch whisky sales in the UK’s secondary market is set to top £20m for the first time this year, with full year results out in January.

“We’ve known for many years that the secondary market for rare whisky has been growing at an exceptional rate,” said David Robertson, co-founder of Rare Whisky 101. “However, we don’t know a great deal about the worldwide community of connoisseurs, collector and investors.

“This research is a real eye opener for us. It’s very clear that whisky enthusiasts are prepared to invest serious sums in growing their rare whisky portfolios and many are looking to make a financial return on their investment. We anticipate that brand owners and distillers and retailers will need to develop intelligent strategies to ensure they can release and market new products to excite this dynamic new buyer.”

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