Rare whisky auction market smashes £25m mark

The value of the rare whisky auction market in the UK has exceeded the £25 million mark for the first time as value sales grew by a staggering 76% last year.

As global demand for old and rare single malt Scotch soars, both the volume and value of rare Scotch sold at auction increased by record amounts last year. Meanwhile, the number of bottles of single malt Scotch sold at auction in the UK increased by 42% to 83,713 last year.

The findings were published in analyst and broker Rare Whisky 101’s 2017 annual report. New auction records for hammer prices of rare Scotch and Japanese whisky are being broken on a regular basis now.

The most expensive bottle to sell at auction in the UK last year was a bottle of 62-year-old Dalmore The Kildermorie – one of a dozen originally released – which sold for £95,000 at Christie’s in London on 7 December.

Dalmore 62-year-old proved hot property at auction last year

Rare Scotch proved to be a more lucrative investment than oil and gold last year as Rare Whisky 101’s Apex 1000 Index, which tracks the best performing 1,000 bottles of rare whisky, outperformed both the oil and gold indexes and also the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100, closing the year up 27.51%.

December alone saw 8,848 bottles of Scotch sold at auction in the UK – nearly half the number of bottles sold throughout 2013.

“We were expecting to break £20 million for the first time. However, £25 million shows the level of demand in the market at the moment.

“Single malt is becoming ever more popular with connoisseurs, collectors and investors. Older spirit is very challenging to come by in the cask and is commanding ever higher prices,” said Andy Simpson, director and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101.

“In certain parts of the world, collecting and investing is still very much in its infancy, but wealthy status buyers are targeting high value bottles, which is pushing prices north.

“The rare whisky acquisition landscape has changed forever as the consumer, rather than the retailer, now decides what price they will pay for a bottle of rare and collectable whisky.

“We’ve talked about rare whisky being in an almost perfect storm of diminishing stocks and skyrocketing demand. That situation looks like continuing as the bulls remain in control of the market,” he added.

David Robertson, who co-founded Rare Whisky 101 with Simpson in 2014, added: “We are experiencing increasing demand from almost all parts of the globe.

“South East Asia remains a key factor for the market, whiled demand from the domestic market, central Europe is higher than we’ve ever seen.

“Approaching on the horizon are the dynamic economies and the burgeoning middle classes of mainland China and India; neither have begun to try and win the rare whisky acquisition race. When, and indeed, if they do, we’re expecting demand to hit levels unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

Having tracked every bottle sold at UK auctions over the past 12 years, Rare Whisky 101 offers the most comprehensive online single malt Scotch & Japanese whisky dataset covering 276,000 price records.

An in-depth look at the growing secondary market for old and rare Scotch and Japanese whisky will appear in the March issue of the drinks business.

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